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18 does not equate to all-knowing

May 23, 2017

At least once a year, whoever is in charge comes up with a plan to save the American Education System and every year, nothing changes. If anything, it seems to get worse.  

High school is a live wire; it seems like that sometimes. The rest of your life is determined from ages 14 to 18 when your hormones are cranked up to the max. You are exposed to new things, and make understandable mistakes. But that does not matter because all a college sees is a file and a couple of letters. 

“They expect you guys to make these decisions at a time in your lives where there’s never a mean,” said an Etowah math teacher who shall remain anonymous.  

You are treated like a baby for 17 years, and then you turn 18, and even though you still have to ask to go to the bathroom, you can vote for the president of the United Sates. Then high school ends, and suddenly the world is no longer about raising your hand or getting caught sneaking off campus for lunch.

Students are too young to deal with the stress upon their shoulders, but they do not have a choice. One mistake can change your life, and teenagers make a lot of mistakes.

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The digital age of high school

If some people channeled their hate for technology into something more productive, the rain forest would not be dying, global warming would be an issue of the past, and the national debt would be cut inn half. Maybe that sounds drastic, but it could be true. Most baby boomers want to blame everything on an iPhone. Students have technology at their fingertips, but in school, it is not used effectively nor efficiently, so it has become more of a hurtful component than a helpful one.

Schools in the 21st century take  bullying seriously. School-wide assemblies push the same message whether in middle school or high school: do not push around the chubby boy or make fun of the girl with glasses.

Bullying is going to happen; it is a hard road to ignore. Teachers and other adults mix their messages so much; it becomes like that twisted pair of headphones at the bottom of your book bag. Either you are weak for not telling, or you are weak for telling and then you are labeled a tattletale. Some think getting bullied builds character, but how can it?  Getting called names hurts, and when you do get the courage to speak up, if nothing is done, you feel like your are being punished again–for doing what they teach us to do:  speak up!

This is the age of phones and social media. All the mean names disappear after ten seconds and the DM’s are unsent. Go to a counselor with no proof of something that did not happen on school campus, they treat it like it did not even happen. “Try ignoring them” sums up the amount of work most will do; however, a block button can only work so many places:  Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook, and as many pages as you desire. Kids may not steal your lunch money or give you a wedgie, but what they can do is give you years of psychological damage.  Kids are mean, and they are only getting meaner.

It is not just students who abuse the power of the iPhone.  Teachers do it, too. A small handheld device that is prone to dying does not mean anything more should be expected from a student. Do not rely on students’ phones for everything they do. A YouTube video will not teach students everything they need to know about a subject; sometimes they need the physical explanation, and that is okay.

“I know me having a phone gives teachers a chance to overload me with work. Just because I can look the answer up online doesn’t mean that I can do a 100 page study guide in a night,” Tabitha Wright, sophomore, said.

This does not mean phones and school cannot coexist successfully. College students spend more than 1000 dollars a month on books; music is a proven method to help concentration according to a John Hopkins study at education.jhu.edu. It is not difficult to modify these things to the standards they need to be at, it just takes a little work, more than anyone is willing to put in. We need to care about this because this is our future, and there is only going to be more technology. We need to deal with it rather than fight it.

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Mind over memorization

Every student is different. Some are introverts, some extroverts, and some of whatever is between. The number of personality tests that clue students in on whether they are visual, auditory, or physical learners only proves it all the more. But still, we are taught the same exact way:  rote memorization and regurgitation of information. But in the end, it does not really matter because most of this information is learned simply to be learned.

“I try to actually let my students learn something, not just memorizing a way to due but actually being able to problem solve,” an Etowah science teacher who shall remain nameless, said.

Students of the new millennium memorized perfect squares rather than learning how to actually multiply. Students admit to not knowing long division, only having it partially memorized until the calculators came in. Quizlet, the holy book of high school, can find entire tests and students can memorize the answers rather than do the work to learn this information. It seems good when you are in a bind, but when exam day comes, it will not be so Quiz-lit.

“If you quote me, leave this anonymous. The only reason I passed any of my reading quizzes in AP World was because Quizlet has all the questions and answers. Truthfully, I never even opened that textbook,” admitted an Etowah sophomore.

Some skills, like vocabulary, is more of a memorization skill, but teachers have taken that and modified it to every subject. Students like it more, too, because it is so much easier to memorize something for a short time. But in the long run, everyone regrets it. While we may not need to know some of this information ten years from now, we do need to know it in May.

 

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Learning is more than academics

Let us be frank:  most people will not need to know how to find the hypotenuse of the triangle past algebra class, but they still learn it for a year or two  to pass that exam to get on with their lives. Between the rigorous curriculum, students do not learn actual life lessons.

“The fact of the matter is that I’m not really sure what debit and credit are, and I actually don’t know what a checkbook is for exactly,” Schaefer Sockman, sophomore, said.

Students are in the know when it comes down to learning.  They know that this stuff is a little mundane to complain about but are terrified because they may need to know it in the real world, but at this point, they are not sure. They know that a knowledge of how to do stoichiometry will not mean anything to most future employers and landlords.

It is not just real world issues either. We should not have to rely on “Glee” to get our knowledge of sexual education.  Newsflash:  you cannot get pregnant from being in a hot tub with someone. Fewer than 40 percent of schools are even required to provide sexual education to students, according to newsweek.com . It is a scary topic, and yeah, it can be a little overwhelming, but it is something students need to know about. Not everything on the internet is viable, and relying on the internet for sex ed can only create unsafe situations for students.

Overall, students are afraid. They have only seen an academic world with a pair of rose-colored glasses, and they know that one day soon, they will be forced to become adults and learn about their new world from scratch.

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