The American education system has long been upheld as one of the landmarks of humanity’s dedication to progress, yet it rarely is questioned holistically as to its own credibility as a means of progress. Over the centuries we have created hierarchical systems of schools, merits, and values that help define a person’s success, the measurement of one’s progress. What if we have it wrong, and there are better systems to measure success, as not everyone is primed to succeed in school systems, and there may be errors in the way schools are managed that impact students’ abilities to succeed? Classes in mathematics, for example, do not accurately measure a student’s progress in multiple parameters. These classes only judge by discipline, not intelligence or ingenuity because students are expected to learn established rules and how to plug-and-chug equations. Oftentimes, these classes cater to students who strive for the traditional definition of scholastic success, as many students who take higher level mathematics and sciences are already primed to be good at following predetermined rules. Additionally, schools that offer these classes are typically higher-education institutions or highly-funded schools that can afford the most educated lecturers, creating socioeconomic gaps across American communities and misguided judgment systems for students. School systems value the traditional definition of success, which is obedience and ability to follow the rules of the class, rather than students’ desires and motivations to learn, which can help explain the underlying flaws in the education system.
Due to the uneven distribution of resources in the academic system in good versus bad neighborhoods and schools, the process of judging students’ levels of success is inaccurate. The amount of money being put in schools in lower class neighborhoods compared to the money already in place in upper class neighborhoods is a huge difference. Effectively, by funding wealthier schools, the system banks heavily on the privileged students, giving the unprivileged students a much smaller chance to succeed with less tools and information, all the while comparing them on the same standards for education. Uneven distribution in education resources creates positive feedback over time, as wealthier communities become wealthier and are privy to higher levels of education, and poorer communities staying stagnant, widening the equity gap on multiple levels. This gives even more an incentive for students to do poorly in school, ruining their future without even knowing it.
The idea of needing to succeed in an education system in order to find overall life success is also toxic to many students, and it is a by-product of the gaps in different schools’ resources. Because of this discrepancy, the only universal unifier is a diploma, as the students learned to not focus on the education but only on the grade, contributing to the idea that the motivation for students is to succeed in the education system, not to learn truly what interests. In the article “Corruption in Education: A Major Issue”, the author states “the diploma has to mean status, knowledge and quality, rather than be an “unsecured paper” and a path to a world of the unemployed and poor”. This is a very important statement, as it shows that the students in poorer communities have something to look up to and gain from achieving a degree or diploma that propels their status, while students in wealthier communities have to attain it to not drop their statuses in their communities. In either case, the goal is tangible, and it overshadows genuine interest and curiosity with the need to attain higher status. This creates a gap in how accurately students are judged on their grades, as motivation to achieve higher grades comes from a necessity to survive rather than self-actualization.
There is a precipitating cause to this, as students don’t have incentives to learn and obtain a good grade in the class, which is a problem on the students end, not the system or the teachers end. Students are typically placed into their scenarios, rather than being at the helm of their own education, so success also measure’s a students ability to comply with authority, even if this authority is not looking out for the individual interests of students but rather their abilities to meet the bar set by the system. Students should be swayed into wanting to learn, no matter what topic it is, as it shows that the student is interested to learn about anything not just to get a letter grade or to get out of class, but sadly this isn’t the case most of the time. In the article “Teaching Those Who Don’t Want To Learn”, the author quotes, “I believe that learning and working hard to earn something worthwhile give us self-esteem. But how do you help young people who do not dare trust another grown-up who wants them to live up to their potential”? It’s a self-taught sequence, as the students has to want this change themselves because it will create more potential and an overall more rewarding outcome.
An immediate cause to why the education system is actually not working is the amount of students that end up dropping out due to failing or giving up due to lack of motivation or knowledge. This is due to the students learning information they aren’t interested in, which is true in almost all cases, as it is difficult to discipline a student in a subject they have no stake of their own in. In the article “H.S. Dropouts Say Lack of Motivation Top Reason to Quit”, the author quotes, “70 percent to 80 percent, said they wanted better teachers and more interesting classes, including the opportunity for more “real world” learning opportunities”. This statistic positively correlates to the idea that success is more likely to be achieved when students are motivated. This could be solved by putting curriculums into school that actually help students succeed in the future, instead of giving them meaningless topics and problems to write and solve to determine their intelligence. Unfortunately, because of the financial differences in schools, and because of nationwide standards that force schools to judge their students on uniform standards of passing and failing, this is not possible.
Overall, the education system has many flaws that have obvious underlying causes that make it the system it is today. These effects create educational and motivational gaps in the future of our country’s generation, creating an uneven distribution of intelligence and diminishing a lot of potential that could have been useful. Students need to start to love what they learn, no matter what they learn, and the education system doesn’t give this incentive to students, which is the biggest problem.