By: Shaan Desai

For over 150 years, school has been taught the same way. Sit in your desk and raise your hand if you want to speak. Homework is assigned regularly. It seems like creativity is being erased. However, as we have seen, this school system appears to be working, as our country is advancing more every day. This is a very debatable topic, so let’s present both sides of the argument.

If you look at the data, the current school system is teaching students well. According to Pew Social Trends, the U.S. had a 30 percent increase in job employment from 1990-2015. Also, at least 86 percent of the U.S. population can read, according to the Census Bureau. Whereas, in countries such as Egypt, the literacy rate is 75.2%.

However, this school system has a lot of problems. The system can often erase creativity and imagination from the mind of the students. All students are taught very similarly. The school system has one particular vision for every student. Every scientist, teacher, and parent will agree that no two minds are the same.

The argument that the school system erases creativity is not exactly true. Many of the schools in the United States offer fine arts programs which allow students to express their ideas through music, theater, art, and other programs.

While many schools do offer these classes, for most of the school day, each student sits at a desk and learns the same thing as the other students and then takes more of the same work home. In middle school, the average student gets 3.2 hours of homework every night. This reduces the time they have for extracurricular activities such as sports which are something that students should get to enjoy.

The current school system has many schools offering after-school clubs and sports, such as NJHS, basketball, and football. This gives some balance between homework and extracurricular activities. Also, the homework prepares students for college and jobs where they have to complete work at home.

These arguments would go in the current system’s favor. However, in addition to taking up valuable time, homework interferes with sleep. A lot of students stay up late completing homework. If students aren’t getting enough sleep, it could cause many health problems now and later in life.

Let’s bring up standardized tests. Not every student learns the same way. Some learn by listening instead of writing. The majority of students in the U.S. have to take standardized tests. These tests are graded by a machine. If a student makes a bubbling mistake on the answer sheet, they still get it wrong. How does this support student learning differences? Even the creator of standardized tests, Frederick J. Kelly, says that “they should be abandoned”.

Despite their inefficiency, standardized tests give valuable data on student learning and how certain students need to be taught.

Most would argue that education should be tailored for each student individually. Students who do not learn like the majority are often left feeling that they are not as intelligent as others in the current system. This brings us to the next topic: teachers. In the U.S., the average salary for teachers is $56,383. This is extremely low considering teachers educate students – our future. Teachers should get higher wages that reflect the amount of work we need teachers to do, differentiating for each student. They are one of the lowest paid jobs in the U.S. One country that gives pays high wages to its teachers is Finland. They are ranked at the top of education in the world; could this be a correlation?

Differentiation is much harder to do in a large country like the United States, with a population of approximately 330 million (2016, World Bank). In 2013, the U.S. had a 21.2 student to teacher ratio. Using Finland as an example again, it is a smaller country with a population of about 5.5 million (World Bank, 2016). Therefore, it is easier for them to differentiate between students because of only a 13.2 student to teacher ratio. Having a smaller teacher to student ratio makes tailoring to each students’ needs easier.

There is a lot of evidence for both sides of the argument. Should our school system be changed, or should we keep it as it is? The Pin Oak Press wants to hear your thoughts. Participate in the poll on pinoakpress.org to cast your vote.