A One-Upping Little Brother, thanks Education System!
For all those who don’t have younger siblings, you are missing out. There’s good and bad, but right now my little brother couldn’t be worse. I’m a high school sophomore, and my younger brother, in sixth grade, is already learning material I learned as a freshman. I used to help him with his Excel homework: math, science, and English; now I’m debating with him about whether Odysseus was a hero or not! This is not okay for a 12-year-old to do the same thing as a 14-year-old did.
Now don’t get me wrong, my brother and I both take school seriously and are A students. I’m in honor classes and an AP course and my brother is in Excel at Hazelwood Middle School. That doesn’t mean we should be on the same learning curriculum. However, little brothers are already annoying enough, now he thinks he’s smarter than me!
The educational system for high school is set, teachers have to teach the same thing each year without any room for differentiation. Middle school teachers, however, seem to have a greater range of options. Education already is going to have to improve year-by-year due to new discoveries and breakthroughs.
This is a key point here, a new problem arises when middle school teachers advance beyond high school curriculums. Due to high school teacher’s inability to be flexible via strict course rules, it’s creating a big crack in our steps toward better education.
Bill Gates once said “America’s high schools are obsolete. By obsolete, I don’t mean that our high schools are broken flawed, and under-funded–though a case could be made for every one of those points. By obsolete, I mean that our high schools–even when they’re working exactly as designed–cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.” Not only does this quote speak so well of our very problem under our noses that hover over screens, but it is at the top of the Indiana STEM Initiative Plan, on http://www.doe.in.gov.
The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) plan, created in 2012, was supposed to be Indiana’s most ambitious reform. Its goals were simply
- Give more time for teaching and less time on testing
- Give more control to the local school districts
- Make sure every child is safe and respected
- Make teacher licensing and evaluation standards top in the nation
- Clear barriers to quality vocational education
There was more to it, according to www.doe.in.gov., but this was years ago. Now we deal with more and more problems, but mine is about inequality of curriculum flexibility. Middle school teachers seem to get to cover anything they want, including material high school freshman are studying. What I’m calling for is that high school teachers get to be more flexible in their teaching to adapt to their classes and give them a broader education, not a repetitive one. I am not trying to blame or make any teachers look bad, I just want to fix a bragging-brother problem.
So, dear educational system, since when did you go all crazy about something popular? The word “rigor” is used like teenagers use slang. Rigor is all the buzz, it’s in meetings and classroom conversation. Teachers are using rigor like it means creating a bigger challenge or making something more difficult. Rigor’s actual definition, in a dictionary, is:
Harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment, severity, the quality of being unyielding or inflexible, strictness, severity of life. An act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty. A condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially extremity of cold. Strict precision, exactness, rigidity, stiffness.
Either allow high school teachers the same flexibility without testing being the ultimate guide or let the junior high kids be kids wishing for recess back and only worrying about having more homework than they did in elementary school. I remember being a sixth grader, and all I wanted was to go outside for
recess again and had to be “responsible”, whatever that even means.
Let’s fix the problem of today by tomorrow, to be able to tackle tomorrow’s problem the next day and so on. But enough of this sentimental Hallmark finish, please get this kid off my back about Odysseus!