As the world evolves, the limit on human capability rapidly decreases, and with every generation, significantly more progress is made in every area of modern knowledge. To achieve humanities maximum potential, society must be equipped with the ability to provide adequate opportunities for growth and sufficient aid for students.
The education system must be capable of supporting a growing curriculum, whilst providing curricular balance, ample openings for adolescents to develop life skills, social learning opportunities and a strong support system for students during an extremely important and turbulent developmental stage. In this essay, I will be assessing how effective the education system is in helping us fulfil our potential by addressing a variety of factors which contribute to the structure of the current system and the viewpoints held by those with both direct and indirect links to the present and future of education and its influence on modern society. Many would argue over the actual purpose of the education system; whether it is to prepare students for the future, instill the concept of routine into young minds, or even to condition children to believe that underperformance will not lead to success. The current education system consists of a variety of advantages and disadvantages, which form the core elements of arguments for and against modern education.
The most notable advantage of the present system is its status as accessible and free. Most, if not all, countries with a developed education system offer public education which is required to be free, obtainable to all learners, and catered towards learner’s independent needs, meaning that modern education can be accessed by all. For many students, education acts as a pathway to life and provides opportunities to learn important and relevant life skills such as teamwork, IT, and adaptation. Another significant advantage is the diverse and open environment that it creates for young minds.
For most pupils school is their opportunity to meet new people, form long-lasting friendships, and begin to understand diversity and equality within their community. Creating a diverse and accepting environment early in life, and sustaining it throughout adolescent years can help form accepting and progressive adults, and discourage negative and oppressive viewpoints. However, some pupils find school repressive and overwhelming, due to its regime and focus on the academics. Not all children are academically minded, and with the pressure on high achievement in the core subjects (English, Maths, and Science) constantly increasing, some find themselves unable to thrive with a somewhat limited curriculum. It is also frequently argued that school tests your ability to retain information rather than your ability to comprehend, and that in certain cases children are taught what is needed to pass their exams and nothing more.
Currently performance is measured by standardized tests, however this is undoubtedly a flawed system. The man who invented standardized tests, Fredrick J Kelly, ruled that ‘these tests are too crude to be used and should be abandoned’. Applying one specific set of conditions and one exam paper to thousands of unique minds causes a major inaccuracy in results, and leads to student’s true ability being masked by letters on a page. The current education system faces a multitude of issues that affect the quality of education received by children all over the world. It is my opinion, that the school system no longer works for many children as their needs have outgrown the capabilities of an outdated system. A widely held opinion is that ‘Our current education system places too much emphasis on the A and not enough emphasis on unleashing the promise that lies in each and every one of us.
‘ (Why our current education system is failing, 2009). The variety of talents and abilities found with each pupil means that one routine system does not suit the population, and if children and teachers were allowed to have more control over the variety of a child’s curriculum based on their personal skill set, I believe it would result in more children having optimistic outlooks. Despite this, it must be considered that an entirely customised education could have significant downfalls.
If a child who is academically minded disregards other subjects such as arts and languages, that child would then enter adulthood with a very limited knowledge on very influential aspects of life. Another issue that thousands of children face within the school system is bullying. On multiple occasions bullying is dismissed as a normal part of growing up however this dismissal is evidence of a toxic mind set ingrained into the minds of many. Secondary school is the period where adolescents begin unconsciously organise themselves into social categories based on characteristics such as appearance, ability, and social class and children who are different in any way are often singled out and bullied, making school traumatic for some as they face violence and verbal abuse daily. In many cases, even children with a seemingly stable and supportive friendship group can become victims of bullying, and concepts such as ‘relational aggression’ are common in the secondary age category.
According to Linda Stade, an education writer, relational aggression ‘focuses on damaging a person’s sense of social place’ (Linda Stade, ‘Girls and Their Frenemies’) and may include exclusion, gossip, belittling and conditional friendship. Relational aggression is often how teenage girls, particularly, exert power over their peers, and it can be argued that it is a behaviour learnt from adults who act in the same way. Relational aggression is another form of invisible bullying, and can often lead to adolescents acting out, changing their behaviour or characteristics, or violating their own moral code in so that they can appease unreasonable and unfair expectations from their peers. This recurring and undoubtedly worrying trend is proof that adolescents need a positive, nurturing environment to prevent the development of negative thought patterns and to ensure that no more people go through life scarred by what they experienced during their schooling.
Bullying can very easily discourage children from school in general, and in many cases both the attendance and effort of the victim rapidly declines. Bullying often causes children to become fearful, or embarrassed over school hence causing them to be limited with what they can achieve. Whilst bullying is such a prevalent issue, many students will be prevented from reaching their full potential. I believe that many children are still slipping through the cracks of an otherwise successful system and these children are no less deserving of a chance at future, one that can be provided if the system is adequately prepared to adapt to the unique learning style and emotional needs of each individual child.