Common Core and Education: How school should really be taught

I’ve always gone to public school. When I finally settle down someday and have kids of my own, I’ll probably end up sending them to public school too.

Growing up, I a couple of families I knew homeschooled. Sometimes I was jealous of them because it always seemed like they got to stay home all day and do nothing but play. Obviously, I realize now that homeschooling parents allow for their children to set their own schedules. Although they have opportunities to take breaks, they still have to get their work done.

I don’t have anything against homeschooling. Surprisingly, homeschooling is more common that I thought. The way things are looking now for public schools across the nation, I don’t blame parents for homeschooling their kids as an alternative.

Recently I’ve learned about and kept track of the ongoing debate over Common Core. Even though these standards never affected me while I was in school, today’s debate surrounding public school curriculum is certainly important for my personal knowledge and how it could affect my future children.

This documentary perfectly emphasizes how ridiculous education has become and what is so wrong about Common Core:

When I was in high school and college, often times I became very frustrated with the system set in place. Looking back, there are three main aspects of education in America that I would change.

1. Kids should have more foreign language options

I didn’t have opportunities to learn a foreign language until sixth grade. My middle school offered Spanish, German, French, and Latin. Seriously? Latin? Why do we even continue to teach that language? I understand it is helpful when preparing for the SAT’s, but its applicable ability to the real world is dead. I always wanted to learn Chinese but they didn’t offer it as a class in school. The only option I had, was to take Chinese courses on Saturday mornings at 9 AM from my local high school.

Yeah…no thanks I think I’ll sleep in.

Languages like Chinese should especially be added to the curriculum, and made available starting at the elementary level. China is among one of the major global leaders in our economy. With a population that keeps on growing, Chinese may very well become a language that starts to take some dominance in certain areas of the world. English may still be the universal language, but languages like Chinese are on the rise.

Another reason to offer foreign language early on, is because kids have a higher chance of picking up a second language if they start learning when they’re young. Not many students in middle and high school take foreign languages very seriously because it’s harder for them to pick it up by that point, unless they’re serious about using it one day or living in a foreign country.

2. Gen-eds should no longer be required

General education classes like math, science, English, and history are basic subjects that kids should learn in elementary and middle school. After their sophomore year of high school, they should focus on college.

It’s already tough enough to balance classes, extra curricular activities, college applications, and SAT’s during your senior year. As juniors, students should no longer be required to take gen-eds. Instead, they should allow students to take classes that will let them explore a possible field of study they wish to choose for college.

High school students typically don’t have a clue what they want to major in college. So, why not give them two years before enrollment to figure that out? Once they’ve reached college, they’ll most likely have a better idea about what does and does not interest them. By that point, college students also do not need gen-eds included in their graduation requirements. They all know how to read, write and do basic math, which is enough for you function at the very least in the real world.

I took chemistry and biology at least three times in my life, and I knew from the beginning that it would never be my life’s passion. College is for students to invest their time and energy into a field of work they can see themselves pursuing for the rest of their lives. Sure, plenty of people change course. But, that’s why college has no deadline to finish.

Almost nobody graduates “on time” in this generation. Personally, I was always hesitant to switch majors in college, because I worried about setting myself back an extra semester or year. The last thing I wanted was to keep asking my parents for more money to pay for college and continue increasing my student loan debt. A standard college degree would not even take four years to complete if it were not for gen-eds.

3. Don’t judge students by their test scores and GPA’s

If you’re like me, testing just doesn’t come that easy. When I studied hard and truly understood what I was learning, I got good grades. But, if I had a bad teacher or just found a particular subject difficult, the best grade I could manage was a C, no matter how hard I studied.

However, I always did my homework and usually did pretty well on projects and lab reports. Homework and labs are practically guaranteed A’s toward your overall grade, because most teachers just expect you to do the work and turn it in for credit.

Tests and quizzes on the other hand are different, because they force you to recall information that you’ve just learned. But, not everyone is good at recalling information so quickly or retaining that information over time. I love sports, so stats and scores naturally stick in my head easily because I have such a high interest. But, an old English novel that I’m being forced to read is very unlikely to have the same effect.

Colleges base too much judgement on SAT and ACT scores, as well as GPA. People always talk about how some of the smartest people in history were high school and college drop-outs. And hey, some of them became billionaires. I don’t condone dropping out of school because obviously that isn’t the path to financial success, but it’s unfair to judge a person entirely on their testing ability and overall grades.

Plenty of students get rejected every year from colleges and programs which they should have been accepted to. I’ve met plenty of dumb and smart people in college, I wouldn’t be surprised if the really smart kids could have gone to better schools.

In the real world, companies do not care how smart you are. They want people who are personable, team players, can work with clients, have common sense, and have something to bring to the table. If you are extremely book smart, but can’t effectively communicate with the world, what purpose to you serve in society?

The Common Core is doing nothing but take away whatever enjoyable aspects we have left in school these days. Academics are not just about math, science and standardized tests. Education is for both young and old generations alike. We should all be learning something new every day to improve our knowledge of the world. Forcing kids to learn for the sake of higher test scores is wrong. Learning needs to be fun, creative, interactive, and dedicated to benefiting children and their futures. If all our government cares about is test scores and competition with the rest of the world, we’ve truly lost sight of what education means.

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