Evolution, Not Revolution
The prided American education system has relied on giving students their daily dose of math, history, and everything in between. Yet, it has proven itself useless to the modern student as the real world holds skills that they are not receiving. This is why a revamping of the curriculum and overall schedule must be made to high school students especially. Though there may be concerns over changing what has seemed to be an okay model for the last number of decades, change is not necessarily a bad thing when it is not overblown. I believe in evolution, not revolution. A small tweak would not knock the balance of the rest of the schooling experience.
Although there are changes being made to core classes, the class itself is not being taken away. The normal curriculum still stands. There is just a small portion of time that is spent on life skills. This idea had already been introduced into the physical education classroom and there were very successful results. Through an experiment done in a physical education class, the results showed that in only eight 15-minutes sessions of integrating life skills, students showed “significant increases in participants’ knowledge about life skills and perception of their competence to achieve the goals they have set.” The study revealed that many life skills such as posture, decision making, and social communication provoke very physical learning opportunities. These specific life skills were perfect for this type of environment, so the short micro-lessons put into place made all the difference. The question is, what about the other life skills that don’t necessarily fit into a gym class? Well, those must be categorized into their proper subjects. Life skills such as learning how to deal with money or obtaining the right materials to give a successful job interview can be easily integrated into common subjects like math and english. The system of the physical education classroom can be used by allowing for 15 minutes of an hour class time to introduce small bites of these valuable lessons. If an immense impact can be made in only eight short sessions in a gym class, then imagine what can be done if it was practiced more often within the whole school.
While a reconstruction is happening within the requirements for students to graduate, it is only helping them for their future paths. A lot of the time schools create guidelines which need to be met before students graduate. They often include taking a performing arts course or a business course to expand on the skills of students. Of course these subjects hold value and they should never be taken away, but other requirements should join them to set a standard for the new wave of students that are coming through. There should be a requirement for life based classes such as child development or psychology as well as a technology based course like computer science. Adding these into the graduation requirements guarantees the whole student body to take the courses and receive the credit. They would also be structured to ensure that the skills are being taken away from the class into the real world. Often, we go into classes and do what we have to do to pass. In this instance, the definitions of education and learning stand strong. There will be no education and the simple passing of information. There will be true learning and the adapting of skills so that the requirements can hold up to their name and actually be able to aid the future generation to success.
We see a common trend in the loss of learning in the youth today. It has come from the instant gratification of looking information up on the internet and having it in seconds. Unfortunately, this has created issues when motivating the youth to actually learn themselves without the aid of technology. In another case, technology is taking over human jobs in order to make them more convenient, so there is no need for people to do that kind of work by hand anymore. While technology shifts our jobs, we need to take advantage of using our own minds to strengthen them without a computer. According to the “Does education and training get in the way of learning?” article, we must encourage students “to connect and integrate concepts to participate in the important work of the community and become ethical leaders.” If we do not, the author explains his fear of the continuous development of learning disabled youth who will seek for the simple narrow solution to complex problems. As a result, it will prohibit them from becoming lifelong learners. The lack of learning will slow the advance of other technologies since no one would take the initiative to figure out the next advancement on their own. The slow pace of learning would stop us dead in the tracks of whatever we have at the moment and time. In that case, the technology would have taken over instead of us holding the ownership of creating such advancements.
Taking a step back at this plan being laid out, it is clear that there would be no severe takeaways to the education system. There is simply the addition of learning and integration of life skills into the classroom as a whole. I can attest to a complete change of the curriculum being unnecessary and strange. The core schedule that we hold today is a staple and necessary to understand fundamentals, but there must be more context to the story. Students just need to understand how to apply the core subjects into order to connect them to life skills or life situations. The attention of students would be grabbed if this were to be established. A common phrase in schools is “when are we going to use this in real life?” That question can be answered by following the new road map. Once students can see the answer, they will be more inclined to learn and know that they can eventually apply what seemed like nonsense into their real lives and their futures to make a difference in society.
Danish. (2006). The effectiveness of teaching a life skills program in a physical education context. Virginia Commonwealth University, U.S.
Marshall. (1997). Does education and training get in the way of learning?. Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, USA.