This is a shot of the high school my oldest attended (and my youngest currently attends, but my oldest took the picture), it’s during the transition between second and third period. The shot was taken form the stairs between the 1st and 2nd floor. There are only two floors, but the school itself is sprawling. There were approximately 1500 students in her graduating class. So I look at this and I have to ask the question: is this part of the solution or part of the problem? Is this really leading to a better educational experience? Is it leading to a better education? Is it enabling more bullying? Is it creating better developed and more confident teenagers? Is it helping them develop a sense of significance or confidence?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think this is a problem which is leading to more problems. Of course this is just my opinion, and I acknowledge that some may see this as an improvement over the way things were done in the past. Some may say this system is producing more educated and diverse kids, and that must be a good thing. But being a pragmatist, I have to look at the results – the bottom line – and what I see is an epidemic of overeating, self-loathing, self-doubt, and insecurity. A fear of taking a risk, and an irrational fear of failure. An epidemic of depression and anxiety in our youth today.
I don’t think I ever met a “cutter” as a teenager. Sure, some of us cut ourselves, but it was to be cool or show how tough or B.A. we were, or just to have a scar to show off. It wasn’t a coping mechanism. I look at the ability to think on ones feet, to improvise, to overcome adversity, to think critically rather than regurgitate “the right answer”, and I don’t see an improvement in these skills, I see quite the opposite. I see young people who are lost when they reach the end of the instructions they were given and suddenly need to intuit what the next step should or could be.
There is no way for a teacher to evaluate an individuals needs or challenges and address them in a way that is specific to that kids challenge when there are so many kids packed into one system. In fact, most classes don’t even issue books, the curriculum is digital and is accessed online. The teachers don’t even give lectures, the give links to lectures online that aren’t given by the teacher “teaching” the kid’s class, but by a “teacher” (lecturer) that the kid will never even meet, or get to ask questions of. It looks like a freaking cattle call. It’s a factory designed to churn out a homogenous product, to produce quantity not quality. Is this really the best approach to producing the future of our society? To training up our future creators, innovators, leaders, and producers, the way they should go?