In Defense of the American Education System
February 10, 2015
Filed under Opinions
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It seems that a favorite pastime for many high school students is to complain about school; I know I am guilty of this myself. However, one common grievance shared by most students is that what is taught in classes is irrelevant to their future adult lives. “I know the Pythagorean theorem but I have no idea how to do taxes.” The thing is, American youths are not required to go to high school for the purpose of learning how to do adult tasks; we go to school to get an education in a variety of fields that we may (or may not) end up joining in our future careers.
A main complaint about our public education system is that students are required to take classes in subjects they do not plan on pursuing in the future (i.e. why am I required to take this history class if I want to be a vet). Yes, the compulsory course guidelines can seem strict or irrelevant given one’s personal goals, but this educational variety can be invaluable in shaping one’s interests. I have always despised social studies and in two separate years at Brantley I have dreaded taking a class in this subject. However, on each occasion these humanities-based courses have proved to be my favorite classes, and I now hope to pursue each of them in my future career. Seeing as I would not have studied these subjects should they have not been required for graduation, I personally see the value in prescribing a diverse curriculum. In this context, the American public education system (course requirements, tests, and all) is a mechanism for introducing professionally requisite topics to our society’s future workers and intellectuals. It is our sole source of passing on the knowledge and understanding needed to maintain our business and education-based society and economy.
In more objective context, the free public education given to all citizens is a component of our first-world society that is so often overlooked. In comparison to the human rights struggles happening in a number of other countries today, the beauty of American public education is not that it is free– it is that it is available to all young people regardless of race, religion, and gender. In 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, the youngest and most recent person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was shot through the head and neck by the Taliban in an attempt to assassinate her for speaking up in favor of female education in Pakistan. This just goes to show that education is considered a luxury in many parts of the world, and American students are fortunate enough to be provided with a safe education, regardless of their physical appearance or personal beliefs.
In the end, it is not the duty of American public schools to teach students future life skills. Are there problems with standardized education? Absolutely, but our public education system functions to educate students in fields they would not have access to otherwise. In most cases, parents and other relatives can teach kids how to file taxes or fix a car, but few can pass on an understanding of calculus fundamentals or the economics of the civil war. Whether or not this means anything to reluctant students, I believe the American education system provides an inestimable service in our society and is just another example of the privilege we experience in this country.