School may not be working, and we know it

Haley Smith

Approximately 65% of today’s kindergartners will be employed for jobs that do not even exist yet, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report in 2013. It is commonly said that children are the future, and it is true; kids will grow up to fulfill their role in society and help us move forward even further. School is where young minds are molded, the place where the future begins to form. The glaring issue with this is that America is using the same old system, while other countries are taking bold steps forward and their students are blossoming because of it. Are we, as students, living up to our highest potential with this system? Is it time for a change in education?

When the current public education system was originally designed in the Industrial Revolution, it was modeled to train people for assembly lines and similar lines of work. It made wonderful sense at the time, considering that’s what the country needed. In these assembly lines, the populace needed to be able to follow and memorize directions obediently both individually and as a group for their assigned task. These types of jobs (jobs that our system was originally designed for) became obsolete with the invention of machinery, artificial intelligence, and robots. While technology continues to improve, how we prepare the next generation’s workforce has not.

Society needs creativity to lead innovations, update old ideas, and solve problems. Instead, we train our children to stay quiet, listen to what a figure of authority tells them to do, and obey without question.

“I have lots of serious problems with the way [America] run[s] schools,” Mr. Murphy agreed. “The fact that our system is based on producing a letter grade at the end in some ways really limits what we do.”

As for the actual school model itself, Mr. Murphy continued, “History shows that factory model has produced amazing results in an effort to educate everybody… I think the fundamental truth is that things can be improved, but every improvement is going to create new issues and challenges. With any change, you may only be moving from one set of problems to a new set of problems…”

Finland once had a horrible education system, one other countries looked down upon. They saw what was broken and tried to fix it, pushing back the age in which school began, hiring only the best staff, and adjusting their curriculum and methods of teaching. They overhauled everything until they found something that worked.

Nowadays, Finland is considered by many to be leading in education, conforming their classes to fit their students and their needs as opposed to making students conform to the curriculum. According to Ted Talks and Smithsonian Magazine, the gap between lowest to highest performing students is the smallest in the world. They also have frequent breaks in their already short school day as to not overwork students and to promote more social and physical activities. Also, 66% of people go on to receive a higher education, and the costs for college are 30% cheaper than America. Finland’s goal is to create a low stress environment, focusing on skill mastery rather than test scores, and this mindset has definitely proved its effectiveness.

Other students, like those in Finland, are blossoming and excelling very easily with an updated teaching method. Doesn’t it seem fitting that America, at the very least, should review theirs? The way schools work now in the United States is simply outdated, and as society changes more and more with each passing day, the way we teach the keys to the future should be focused on just as much.

“I believe the United States should take steps to have a similar education system as Finland,” Sammy Bufano, a freshman here at Dickinson, added. “When it comes to education, let’s not Finnish in last.”