It’s no secret that the way we are taught directly influences our absorption of the material and content.
Two people using two different techniques can explain the same concept to you and your understanding and application of that same concept will ultimately differ based on how it was explained to you.
Why? Because there are a number of methods that one can use to explain something. Aspects such as how engaging, simplistic, and concise, all influence how one connects and digest the information provided.
So, when it comes to problems with the education system, it is crucial that teachers select and correctly exercise strategies that earn the attention of students and encourage their understanding.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case as a handful of teachers in today’s system ineffectively spew tons of complicated, mechanical, and repetitive information at students and call it teaching.
This leaves us students attempting to single-handedly grasp the material being taught while surrounded by a pool full of tears.
Sound familiar? Well, that’s because there are plenty of problems with our current education system that need to be tackled in order to actually provide, teach, and encourage student learning.
And as a student myself, I know what needs to be fixed.
Here is what I think about why the education system needs to be changed!
The Outdated Curriculum
The first and most obvious contributor to these problems is the curriculum itself. It’s the actual material and content that students are taught and expected to know.
Ever taken a look at the year your textbooks were published?
I guarantee that some of them will be 5… or maybe even 10 years old. As you’ll learn later in this article, the world is developing quickly and at an increasing pace.
Modern day advancements in technology and changing consumer preferences mean that new jobs are created, while others are eliminated. So why is the education system using these outdated textbooks to teach students?
Well, the answer would be due to the financial burden it has. Think about how much research, time, and effort goes into publishing a textbook.
It becomes extremely expensive for schools to have to always purchase the newest textbooks, and for the authors to actually find the information to write them.
Next, let’s talk about learning styles.
Stop what you’re doing and ask, “What type of learner am I?”
Maybe you learn best with visual aids, hands-on, or by writing out concepts a million times. Now ask someone else the same question – chances are that their answer will be different, yet, both of you are taught concepts in the same manner.
How is this fair to the individual who learns best in a different way? (rhetorical question, because it’s not) So, teaching needs to be diversified to suit all learners!
Moreover, the school curriculum should also focus on the future of society and redefining the curriculum to keep up with the evolution of skills.
There is an ongoing shift in the workforce taking place as subjects such as computer science, robotics, and engineering are growing. Yet, despite this, the education system remains fixed.
Why are these subjects being limited to after school clubs and activities? These courses should be accessible to students as much as other subjects such as English and math are because they are just as significant.
We must remember that the traditional courses that have been offered in school are not the only courses that are crucial and beneficial.
Embracing a variety of subjects that are up and coming will make students more adept and keep the education system versatile instead of restrictive.
After all, every student should have the opportunity to learn and expand their knowledge on what they are actually interested in. Directing the curriculum towards what students want and what is relevant in the future will remove this predominant issue.
How Information is Delivered
As mentioned, the way teachers present information and course content has a direct and significant impact on student comprehension.
Learning is not just receiving the information! A big part of learning is also how the information is delivered (just like in presentations).
Teachers should be teaching the students until they understand the information AND can apply it to real world situations, not just reading and rephrasing the material on their slides.
And to be clear, I am not saying that teachers are the ones at fault, but rather the history of the system itself is the problem.
The education system is currently flawed because teachers are attempting to deliver all the information they can to fit into the school curriculum and schedule.
In doing so, they most often neglect how they are teaching, as their main goal is just getting the material out there.
For example, this year I took a course where the professor just stood next to his powerpoint presentation and verbally recounted the facts and material in a dull and robotic manner.
I was actually genuinely interested in the course content but this was tainted by how unengaging his teaching was. I actually found myself going from being curious to learn to being unmotivated and disinterested.
And it’s gone both ways! I’ve also become fascinated by certain topics that I was previously uninterested in due to a teacher that made the content applicable and engaging. That’s the power of teaching!
Teachers need to make their content captivating and interesting and adapt their teaching styles so that it garners the curiosity of today’s students. Big surprise!
Lectures where the professor sounds like a textbook does not make students interested!
First off, using teaching techniques such as debates, fun in-class quizzes, or even a guest speaker keeps the classroom interactive and students intrigued in the course content.
These learning styles make even the most tedious material exciting because they get students to apply what they are learning.
As a student, being able to apply what you have learned makes you view the information you have learned as useful and practical instead of just textbook work.
Plus, the application of course material is the goal of education!
Establishing relevance is important!
Notice how these techniques directly engage students? In today’s education system, the traditional methods of teaching lacks interaction.
Taking notes, listening to the professor, reading the textbook, and answering questions do not get students as connected with what they are learning.
On the flip side, debates, in class quizzes and guest speakers directly get students connected to the material in a unique and refreshing way.
Debates get students to think outside the box and develop and express their opinions, conduct research and examine what they are learning from a new perspective. In class quizzes fortify student understanding by allowing them to learn material through practice.
Finally, guest speakers are more compelling as students are more likely to pay attention because they are naturally interested in hearing about other people’s opinions and experiences related to their course material.
The current education system needs to update its approach to teaching. They are failing to recognize and appreciate the various styles of teaching and how impactful different techniques really are.
It’s ABOUT TIME the education system embraces innovation and creativity instead of sticking to the traditional! (Have you noticed just how dated the system is yet?)
The Grading System
Grades! The one thing that EVERY student stresses about. From the first day of the semester to day of the final exam, all you can think about is your grades.
And let me tell you, there is A LOT wrong with the current grading system as per our educational standards (well, at least in my opinion anyway).
Of course, I can’t simply make such a bold statement without anything to back it up! So, get comfy, grab some popcorn, and be prepared to read my totally unbiased and completely factual opinion!
1: Types of Assessments
As you know, real world success is not measured by choosing the correct option when given a list of four or five to choose from.
But, somehow, the outdated education system thinks that this is the BEST (and sometimes ONLY) way to determine if you are “smart” or not.
How can you have a course where both the midterm and final exams are COMPLETELY and SOLELY multiple choice questions?
This in no way measures whether or not the student understands the concepts taught in the course. It is simply a test based on who can remember the most on a given date.
Sure, multiple choice questions are a great way to test your knowledge, but not when they are the only form of assessment or almost all of your overall grade.
Assignments for any courses should vary between things like group work, presentations, reports, essays, projects, and only then some multiple choice type questions as well.
Real world problems require knowledge, yes… BUT without being able to apply concepts, think critically, AND communicate your ideas, what’s the point?
Ultimately, testing students in many different ways is a much better approach to evaluate their knowledge on the topic rather than just one multiple choice test that one person can guess their way through and have a chance of getting good results.
When students are forced to take tests like these, they often become stressed and perhaps draw a blank on the correct answers (there is also a really good article for anyone that is looking for techniques to manage stress here).
Afterwards, a poor mark might make the student feel as though they aren’t good enough, when in reality, their skills and talents could be exceptionally greater than someone who got lucky by guessing a few more correct answers.
This is especially true when the weighting of an exam is extremely high, but the number of questions is a lot lower, leading us to the next problem with the current grading system…
2: Allocation of Marks
Okay, have you ever started skimming through your course syllabus at the beginning of the semester thinking “oh my goodness… a 50% final exam.”
You likely are not the only one to assume that this evaluation style is absurd and crazy.
How can ONE test, for maybe TWO hours, test a students’ knowledge enough to determine if they understood OVER 3 months of course content and an ENTIRE textbook.
There is simply NO POSSIBLE WAY for an exam to cover everything from the course. Why is this a problem?
Well, it creates a situation where let’s say student #1 may remember half the content, and then student #2 remembers the other half. Both of these students write the same exam, at the same time, and in the same room. Sounds fair right?
Unfortunately for student #2, the majority of the topics and questions on the exam were from the other half of the course that they didn’t memorize.
Now student #1 is going to seem a lot smarter when they achieve a way higher mark, even though both students understood the EXACT same amount of the course content. Not so fair anymore, eh?
When this happens on a final exam worth 50% of your grade, it can have serious implications. It could affect your chances of getting a scholarship, obtaining financial aid, or any other situation that requests your GPA.
And now for the third and final problem with the grading system!
3: Conversion of Percentages, Letter Grades, and GPA
Depending on where you live and what educational institution you study at, the grading system will differ. However, this becomes a significant issue when trying to standardize and compare your marks with another student somewhere else.
For example, my school uses a 4.0 GPA scale that is determined by converting a final percentage grade in a course to a GPA value. So, what’s the big issue with that?
Firstly, the rules for converting from a percentage to GPA value are flawed. Take a look at this example below…
As you can see, a student that achieves anywhere from a 90-100 in a course receives a letter grade of A+ and a GPA value of 4.0. With me so far?
Okay, now moving on to the range below (85-89), you can see that any percentage mark within this range receives an A for the letter grade and a 4.0 for GPA value… WAIT A MINUTE!
Yes, whether you finish with a 99% or an 85% overall, you are going to receive a 4.0 as your GPA. How can this be fair to the student that understood around 15 percent more of the course content? Well, it’s not really fair… and that is why a change needs to be made!
Obviously, these ranges will differ depending on where you go to school, but most of them follow a similar structure to this one. Anyways, enough boring you with the numbers for now…
Use of Technology
Let’s face it! The world is changing… rapidly. Think about ten years ago! Many of the technological advancements were nowhere near where they are today.
Companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, Tesla, and Microsoft are competing to capture as much of the market share as they possibly can.
And thanks to modern day consumers who are always looking for the latest and greatest goods and services, these companies are forced to constantly improve, expand upon, and create new technologies!
This has a direct impact on students. After all, today’s students are the future of a new world where life will be run by robots and automated machines.
Pen and paper? Sorry to break it to you, but you’re old now.
New teaching styles have begun to adapt to new technologies, however, this is being done at an extremely slow pace.
Your typical high technology lecture nowadays consists of a powerpoint presentation on a large projector, or perhaps a smartboard where a teacher can write examples out for the class.
The problem becomes clear when most of the current teachers (and it’s really NOT their fault but still) spend way too much wasted time on trying to figure out how they can effectively use these new technologies in the classroom.
In doing so, students become extremely bored and less engaged, significantly hindering their ability to grasp the lecture material. As a result, they often try to sneak out their phones and scroll through social media instead of paying attention.
E-learning is also already becoming increasingly popular and threatening the need for actual lectures in class.
Can you see why this is a problem?
As this issue begins to grow, the education system is going to have to find ways to adapt to new technologies and use a less traditional method of teaching.
What’s Your Take?
Now that you’ve had a chance to hear my opinion on the current education system, it’s time for you to share your own.
Whether you agree or disagree with anything I have said, share it in the comment section below.
Let’s try and get some discussions going about what can be done to fix these problems that students are forced to face throughout their academic careers.