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The true purpose of education

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Ishika Agrawal
Member since July 16, 2017
  • 3 Posts
  • Age 18

This is a political cartoon I made about the issue.

This is a political cartoon I made about the issue.

When we turn five years old, we begin a new path as we go to school for the first time, with the excitement of coming across new experiences and new adventures, with the support of our families and the guidance of our new teachers. In elementary school, we look forward to every new day, to every new thing we learn, to every moment that will become an unforgettable part of our memories. As we grow older though, the days start to blend together, the next day the same as the last, repetitive and in some cases, even monotonous. Instead of looking forward to the days of learning, we look forward to the days with break, but why does our excitement fade overtime? As we grow older, shouldn’t our excitement grow as we learn more, have the power to test our boundaries, and have the resources and knowledge to fulfill the dreams that we have been seeing since childhood?

It makes me wonder, what is the true purpose of education? The purpose of education is to help instill curiosity and a love for learning in every child, so that they develop into young adults who contribute to humanity, follow their passions, and think for themselves, such that they leave school with a purpose and have the confidence to fulfill that purpose. As our mentality as a society has changed though, and shifted from morals to money, so has the education system, for money has become the new definition of happiness.

We push our children to only think about getting good grades in school, then about getting into a good college, then getting a well-paying job, and then getting promoted in that job. This push towards material success, has gone past wanting for our children to be financially stable so that they can live comfortably, but has turned into a pressure that causes students to sacrifice their health, their relationships, and their ability to fully enjoy every moment in life, for something that will not even bring them true happiness in the long run. The joy of learning has turned into the very chains that bind exploration. The quest for happiness has turned into the very recipe for unhappiness.

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein himself, failed several subjects on a major standardized test in school, and his teachers did not think he was particularly brilliant. According to our education system, one of the most revered geniuses of all time, is stupid, absolutely incapable of achieving the things that he did, for if he had been alive today, he would have barely graduated high school. If a man like Albert Einstein was misjudged and reduced by our education system, think of the thousands of other geniuses whose talents were not recognized, who unlike Einstein, took to heart the demoralization that has been embedded in our school system. Clearly, it is the system that is at fault.

Every child has their own set of talents, that the education system is supposed to help nurture. Not every child is meant to go into an academic field. Some are meant to be religious leaders, some to be athletes, some to be social workers, but our schools only focus on academics. This causes students’ passions to die out, as they feel forced to enter fields they are neither good at, nor feel stimulated by. Every student has a different strength and our education system needs to help them build on that strength, and cater to the individual needs of every child. We cannot expect the next Michael Phelps to have a mind like Steve Jobs or the next Steve Jobs to have the physique of Michael Phelps, but what we can expect them to have, is that same level of passion and commitment.

Many people believe that the education system is effective in preparing students for the workforce. Each year, more and more students seem to be taking harder classes and exceling on the standardized tests related to them. According to the College Board, a leading corporation in college preparation, 370,000 students registered for AP exams in 2016, and in several of the subjects including United States History, Chemistry, and Physics 1, a record number of students achieved the highest score of a 5. Through these statistics, it seems as if Bush’s efforts in education as expressed in his speech “No Child Left Behind” have been fruitful, but these statistics are just numbers, hard facts that cannot even begin to capture the experiences that each of the 370,000 students went through. What they fail to explain, is the 37% increase in adolescent anxiety and depression over a time period of only one year. Standardized testing and this academic-focused education system, is not creating young adults who are prepared for a job market that requires creativity and collaboration, but rather burned out students who struggle with a growing sense of anxiety, hopelessness, depression, fear, and emptiness.

When students feel confident in their abilities and discover their passions, they themselves will know what journey to take to become successful. They themselves will be more motivated to persevere and work hard and will feel the desire to overcome any obstacles in their paths. We need to take a wholesome approach to education that allows students to enjoy the experience of learning, takes into consideration their health and wellbeing, and prepares them for a changing world that demands creativity and collaboration, instead of the standardization that our education system promotes. In the way education is currently approached, we are not only causing students to miss out on the positive experiences that are vital to a happy childhood, but are not preparing them for the demands that the job market requires. We need to reform the system, so that the education students receive, actually benefits them in the long-run. So let’s change Bush’s slogan of “No Child Left Behind” to “No Child Left Behind With An Unpursued Passion.”

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