high school student critiques education

Campbell Erickson

Feb 24


What is wrong with American education

I’m in high school. I just made a 72 on a pretty important test.

It sucks. I feel defeated. The reasons for my low grade are pretty simple: I didn’t study, there was a party at my house the night before that my parents were throwing. I hadn’t read the book because I had been absolutely packed for the week prior with running a TEDxYouth event and a gallery show for A Youth Mind. Now, if your first inclination is that I’m unintelligent, incapable, or unable to prioritize, I feel you. I authentically feel that right now… and that is the problem.

In the American education system, where as a whole, great teachers and progressive schools are exceptions to the rule, with the tests, quizzes, grades at every corner, you don’t learn to prioritize, to live life, to be creative, to experience and meet people. You learn to keep your head down and study your ass off. And when you don’t? You’re defeated. Like I am now. You feel incapable for no reason other than prioritizing some unique interests over school. Now, if school was actual learning, it’d be different.

But in education, we unequivocally stand behind this concept of testing. We support and praise short-term memorization. The students who are thought of as most diligent are rarely the ones who I think will make an impact in the world; rather, they are the ones who can suppress their natural curiosity in exchange for bulldozing through the memorization of 100 terms all for the purpose of pasting them down the next day. Do they actually retain anything for more than two weeks? No. So, are they learning? No. Does it make them any happier? No.

We need to consider that we — the so-called “worst generation” of America — are not that way because of our own nature and distraction with media and the internet; instead, we are the “worst generation” because we have higher rates of stress-induced mental illness than ever before in the history of American youth. Plus, honestly, I think we are the best generation, even though we’ve been completely screwed over by our schooling, because we are the most accepting, progressive generation ever. So stop calling us the worst and do something about it.

View at Medium.com

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