The true purpose of education – Op/Ed


Nevaeh Lopez, Social Media Manager/Podcast Editor

The true purpose of education should be what it was intended to be: preparing students and youth for their futures and the real world. This should be self-explanatory, but looking at how education has been running in recent years, it doesn’t seem like this is the route we’ve been taking. Education starts with learning how to do things such as reading and writing, adding and subtracting. Then, you learn history. You learn about things of the past and things happening in the present. All of this information can be extremely useful. As you advance in your education, you are still learning the same things, just at more advanced levels. 

To really understand and assess this argument, we need to take a glance at modern education. Obviously, we’re talking about school. The main purpose of primary education is to prepare students for secondary education and college. How does primary school start? Whether you begin your education journey with preschool or kindergarten, both levels are valid ways to start. These grades can be considered less serious and are meant to introduce little kids to the idea of being in school. They learn how to be around other kids their age as well as basic things like colors, shapes and sounds. However, most of the day consists of play. Then, it’s a sharp transition to first and second grade, where the real “learning” begins. You learn how to read, count and sometimes add. History and science aren’t big factors during these years, which seem to be setting you up with the basic knowledge that you need in all years of education. Then comes third through fifth grade, which are the serious years. You’re getting down to business. You’re learning the big things: multiplication, division and essay writing. Then, history is probably introduced around this time, as well as actual writing skills and comprehension. See, these years of education are starting to kind of make sense. However, there are still things that are crucial to be teaching students during these years. Maybe puberty? Learning how to be organized? These concepts are usually taught by parents. You’d expect that to be the parents’ jobs, but if students are in school to learn, they should have some sort of incorporation of other ideas. When you venture to middle school, education might be very confusing. Science is an actual subject, but students are learning the most random things. You learn about cells and organs. Not really things that are important unless you plan on being some kind of scientist. Then you’re learning about every single event from the beginning of AC. History is even incorporated into English through essay writing about past events, reading plays about the witch trials and assorted other tidbits. Don’t even get me started on math. Letters are now part of math. ABC are all substitutes for when your teacher doesn’t know a specific number, and X,Y are all points on a chart. I vividly remember being enraged by what we were learning. I could care less about the structure of a cell, and how to find the square root of 69 divided by 420. Oddly, my argument always consisted of me wanting to learn how to do taxes or write a check, (things that I had no business worrying about at twelve years old). However, it was just another way of me realizing that there were better things that I could be learning during my eight hours a day, 180 days a year for (what seemed like) the rest of my life. For many people, high school can be very messy. Students are being re-taught the same material that they were taught in middle school and other topics like languages and chemistry plus special “flavored” history and English courses. In reality, you’re just having the same lessons from the last five years of your education, just in more advanced words and assignments. It’s just a constant cycle of learning the same random things so you’re qualified to move on to college, where (hopefully), you can learn about topics of your choosing. 

I think this is a waste of twelve years. I feel like if whoever is in charge of the education system gave me the chance, I could rewrite the curriculum. I’ve had this in my plans since I realized how messed up the system was in sixth grade. I think schools should follow more developmental guidelines when educating growing children. Obviously, I believe that basic skills like writing, reading, adding and subtracting should be learned at early ages as well as advancing those skills in later years. However, a lot of subjects learned in school can be replaced. I think social skills should be taught in preschool through 2nd grade. Most of these kids are just learning how to interact with kids their age, and it can be hard. They can also learn manners on top of this, something that many parents don’t believe needs to be taught. Students can learn how to respect themselves and other students as well as basic things like personal hygiene, because not all students’ parents teach them things like this. Some parents either don’t have the resources, or just don’t care. Then 3rd-5th graders can continue social skills, as long as learning about their constantly developing bodies. Teaching them how their bodies work can be very important. It is a good idea to de-stigmatize learning about puberty, development and periods. This is also a crucial time to introduce kids to many hobbies and skills, encourage them to find things that they’re good at, and/or interested in. This will help jumpstart them for their future careers. Then, middle school can be truly future education based. Students should have the opportunity to explore careers and trades that will be accessible to them in the future. Middle school is a very experimental and crucial development time in students’ minds. They are constantly learning about themselves and this is where mental health help should be a basic necessity. Don’t get me wrong, history is still important. But if the history education system is started early on, it should be controlled, so that time isn’t wasted on subjects that students already learned. High school shouldn’t be just about work. Instead, it should simply be preparing students for future careers and college. Students should be taught about applying to jobs during high school, and how that may affect their future careers. They should also learn real-world skills: jumping a car, dealing with taxes, applying for colleges, organization skills, dealing with trauma, etc. High school should be an enjoyable experience, rather than stressing out students. 

Overall, I believe that the education system has harmed students for many years. There are many changes that can take place. I think that the education system can really benefit students and set them up for the future, just like its true purpose.