Today’s students are mentally exhausted, and one major reason for this is the education system, specifically the weight of grades and consequently the expectations placed on students to excel. It is no secret that grades are the forefront of the education system, as almost everything relies on these grades, such as attending a good college, which is already extremely expensive, graduating, or even being able to participate in an extracurricular activity. So, we are put at a standstill. On one hand, grades are an easy, sufficient way to take note of a student’s progress, yet, on the other hand, grades are also a detriment to students and their ability to genuinely learn, as the expectations and weight of grades have clearly overtaken the place of learning. The question arises; what can we do to fix this expanding problem? And, how do we transition our focus from the grading system, the current threshold for education, and onto learning itself? In order to create a beneficial learning environment, the education system should focus on giving students a place to nurture their passions in a healthy, efficient way, doing so by giving students space for personal interests, forming a more engaging, interactive classroom community, and offering flexibility with students.
In hopes of creating an environment catered to learning, the education system should make time to place focus on students’ passions, as well as making lessons more engaging, which will consequently drive the want to learn and fuel those passions. Shifting the focus from grades and lifeless lessons and onto fun, engaging ones makes it easier for students to pay attention and participate hand on. By creating engaging lessons, students are more likely to retain the information they learn and become more willing and lenient to follow through the entire class (The Learning Network). Hand in hand with this comes true interest in learning. Though this cannot be done without sufficiently aiding teachers and guiding them to participate in effective teaching, a direct effort from those teachers to engage with students. Teachers have an extremely important job and a difficult, challenging role to fulfill, after all, it is up to them to have a positive, lasting effect on children, nurturing their passions to encourage learning, as stated by the idea that “effective teachers also have a direct influence in enhancing student learning” (Tucker and Stronge). To change and elevate the system, it is necessary that immense care and work is put in on both ends.
Not only is the education system in need of a more well-rounded and immersive environment, students are also in need of a varied learning atmosphere and more flexibility. As humans, we all learn in different ways. Someone might learn better taking notes, while others learn better through hand to hand experiences. Differentiation is a necessity that should be taken into account, as “Understanding the different rates and styles of learning will help. . . implement them in ways that will support all your students” (Morrow). By giving students this flexibility, such as providing a sufficient, non-overbearing workload in a way that is helpful, all while maintaining expectations for students, they are able to challenge themselves and learn in the most helpful way specific to them. Giving students the opportunity and space for engagement, without unnecessary stress and burdens, creates a beneficial learning atmosphere. In order for this to work, teachers should set the standards as “necessary to achieve the goals, and flexibility should be allowed when there are many ways to achieve those goals” (Morrow). Being flexible should not mean the absence of challenges or hurdles for students to face—mistakes are places to learn from. Rather, the ability to actually, truly learn from those mistakes should not be so strict and the emphasis on grades only heightens this. There is a balance between the two needed to be found.
By giving students space for personal interests, creating a more interactive classroom environment, and offering practicable expectations for students, the education system would grow into a more dynamic and helpful community. In order for this to occur, we must have this conversation with our peers and support our teachers to promote change. Transitioning into a more collaborative and engaging learning environment, with de-emphasis on grades, which are arguably seen as the mark of the youth’s success today, allows for student interaction and growth. We can’t necessarily solve all the issues within the education system immediately, though with effort to form a more collaborative environment, little by little, we can stride toward effective change.
Morrow, Jasmine. “Teaching Strategies to Help Students Succeed.” CE Credits Online, www.cecreditsonline.org/blogs/news/teaching-strategies-to-help-students-succeed.
The Learning Network. “What Students Are Saying About How to Improve American Education.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Dec. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/12/19/learning/what-students-are-saying-about-how-to-improve-american-education.html.
Tucker, Pamela D, and James H Stronge. “Chapter 1. The Power of an Effective Teacher and Why We Should Assess It.” The Power of an Effective Teacher and Why We Should Assess It, www.ascd.org/publications/books/104136/chapters/The-Power-of-an-Effective-Teacher-and-Why-We-Should-Assess-It.aspx.