The Harbinger Online

More Worthless Than Worthwhile

Massive formulas are written onto the white-board. How to find the derivative of E to the X power, how to find the derivative of a constant: equations we must know in order to pass our exam that would take place the following day. I write down each formula, make flashcards and memorize them. After we take the exam, our teacher explains a new method that makes every problem shorter and easier.

Every year, I hear people complain about teachers forcing students to memorize useless vocabulary words or extensive formulas, simply for testing purposes. We read books that have subpar reviews and outdated language. All it does, in my opinion, is give students headaches.

In calculus, our tests are split into two sections. One section allows calculator usage, while the other does not. Logically, it doesn’t make sense to me why we would restrict kids to doing problems by hand when a calculator can quickly do the trick. School should be about teaching and preparing students for the real world. Your boss wouldn’t give you a task you could complete on the computer, but restrict your computer access. They’d want it done in the most efficient way possible. Shouldn’t it be the same in school?

English class, year after year, has progressively become more irrelevant. Learning how to write analyses of ancient poems may be important to some people, but like I said before, shouldn’t school be about helping people prepare for the real world? I just don’t see how learning ancient poems that nobody has heard of will help me be successful in life unless I want to become an English teacher.

Aside from poems, we have read books this year that have gotten subpar reviews posted on National Public Radio (NPR) and New York Times, ranging from “terribly written” to “pointless book that mumbles on and on without a focus.” Why would students be reading books with such reviews, especially when they were written almost 100 years ago?

Four years of English class, and the only book I’ve actually enjoyed was Outliers, because it talked about things that would factors that could influence my life, like the effect hard work has on life-long success. Not to mention it was written in the last decade.

I realize some people may have a love for English, but the workforce is becoming more and more competitive. According to a poll on CNN, an increasing amount of students are shying away from four year colleges and going to prep institutes such as tech school or DeVry. If this is the case, why are we spending so much time and effort on programs or classes that won’t help us compete in the working world? It would be more beneficial to require students to take classes like financial literacy so they can learn to manage their money, which is one of the biggest issues in America. Weeks shouldn’t be focused entirely on what Gatsby’s car symbolized.

Another fact that I find interesting is that states such as Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and others are requiring high school students to take classes like accounting and financial literacy. Clearly, people are starting to realize that this type of knowledge is just as valuable as any other core class.

One of the best things I have heard this year came from my AP government teacher. He said most teachers and parents only care about tests and grades, but what he cares about is what you get out of the class. Government is one of the few classes I’m taking that presents me with information that I find interesting. I think more teachers need to take up the same philosophy that my government teacher has. I feel as if it would help more students actually learn valuable things.

Teachers may be teaching things I view as useless, but I also see another issue. Millions of dollars were spent on supplying every students with laptops, and elementary students with iPads, assuming they would become more adapted to using technology. I see the logic. Give students new technology so they can be prepared for when they have jobs. But the issue rises when teachers limit the use of these laptops.

Taking notes in class is one of my least favorite things to do, but I do it because I know how important it is. The thing that bothers me though is how teachers refuse to let students take notes on their laptops. I know that studies show kids retain more information when it’s written down by hand, but it should be my choice to type my notes if that’s what I want to do. We spent mass amounts of money for a reason, why not let students utilize their laptops to their full abilities?

In my opinion, our academic logic in school needs to change. Teachers should allow students to use things such as laptops and calculators to their advantage. Preparing students for the future is what’s important, therefore there should be a bigger focus on job related classes that would actually help kids instead of making their lives difficult.

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