For as long as I’ve been associated with high schools, which would be both attending and teaching at that level for many years, the primary focus has always been on academics, with the ultimate goal of our kids piling up enough of the right kind of credits to get them into a “good” college. Preferably one that when mentioned, everyone in the room solemnly nods with an understanding of what a great academic institution it is.
Very few of us, however, ever question if that path was the best one for every student, at least not with the force and eloquence of this post at the Powerful Learning Practice blog.
Academics. Most of our current school system revolves around it, and yet, I think it falls miserably short of what our kids need. To be honest, I think our academic system of education is highly overrated, at best. At worst, it destroys a number of our kids.
Hear me out. I’m not saying that our kids shouldn’t learn to read, or do math, or develop other valuable skills. But too often, the focus of our kids’ school day is Content with a capital C, with little connection to why it matters. Instead of learning together, many of our students spend hours filling in worksheets or copying down lecture notes that they could google in 30 seconds.
Too often the lectures they listen to are boring and irrelevant to their lives. And from my experience, most of this content is simply memorized, spewed out for an exam and then quickly forgotten. But beyond this, there’s often only one right answer, which frequently cultivates in our students a fear of failure.
No sugar coating there. And that’s just the opening paragraphs. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing for more of Shelley’s thoughts on why our education system is very wrong to focus on creating “academic” kids who are good at playing the school game.