School System in the U.S.

Hello, there.

With the new school year starting up for a lot of young people (or already have), I thought that I would write something that’s related to education, academics, and all of that lovely stuff (meh). 😛

Recently, I watched a Fine Bros. React video on Youtube of parents reacting to a rapper expressing his thoughts on the academic system in many parts of the world. You can find the video here:

After viewing the video, it got me thinking: IT’S TRUE. What’s true, you might ask? It’s true that a lot of the things that we learn throughout our 12+ years of schooling are, well, never used once we go out into the “real world.” Yes, throughout my childhood, while going through the education system, I’ve heard so many people– students, parents, heck, even teachers– say that most of the stuff we learn won’t ever be applied at our jobs, whatever we choose to do. I would listen, but never did I realize how so accurate it was once I graduated college (and being done with what it seems like school forever. Forever).

Look, I’m not saying that the education system in the U.S. (and in other parts of the world) sucks, but it is certainly flawed. Too much of it is focused purely on the academics, with reading, writing, math, and all of those subjects. As the video above so adroitly pointed out, we are taught to read Shakespeare, instead of learning how to do our taxes. There is no direct application that we can use for Shakespeare (unless you want to be a Shakespearean actor), but with taxes, it’s something that all adults, regardless of occupation, do all the time. Sounds bad, especially since I had majored in English while in college, but it’s true: Shakespeare really isn’t all that useful. 😛

BUT (and this is a huge B-U-T), despite the fact that we’re never really taught “real-life” applications such as filing taxes, getting a job, fixing a car, or even writing a check, there are certain components of school that do hold some practicality, besides just the vocational stuff.

Personally, I believe that, in today’s society, the two subjects that hold the most weight for getting ahead career and life-wise are English and the Sciences. Now, you may completely disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. But hear me out:

  1. English (especially writing) is a useful tool for communication. I’m talking about all types: reading and interpreting, writing, researching, presenting, etc. This way of academia not only teaches you to bury your nose in 1000+ pages of James Joyce’s Ulysses (which frankly, I’ve never even read), but also can be expanded to other fields of work besides teaching: business, law, finance, technical work, freelance, etc. Perhaps I’m biased, since this was my field of study in college, but really, English isn’t useless at all.
  2. Sciences is definitely a huge field that many people go (or aspire to go) into. Granted, not everyone will choose to stay in it (especially med school, which is killer), but despite the boring, theoretical-crap classes that schools first put you through from elementary school to the first two years of undergrad in college, the lab and technical applications that you learn in med school, then later residency, are actually closer to what you’ll be using when it comes to being a doctor/pharmacist/nurse and dealing with patients. Even for the non-medical scientists (e.g. biologists, astrophysicists, geologists), the real experience occurs when schools start to give you a hands-on, learning education.

So really, there is some real-life application to these subjects. And true, I will give some credit to other subjects and specializations out there (History, Mathematics, culture studies, gender and sexuality studies, etc.) for also enlightening us with a bit of world perspective. But if I were to condense all of real-life lessons into a couple of schooling subjects, those two above would be my best bet.

What I’m trying to say is that, yes, we need to develop more hands-on, vocational courses that can be readily applied in adulthood. At the same time, however, we should not completely do away with pure academia. Despite its “hoity-toity” nature, the academics teaches an individual to think- for himself/herself, for the community. Although not directly, it instructs on how to be an effective communicator, to empathize, to appreciate how life works through history and logic. On a socio-economic level, academia offers an opportunity for low-income students to make it in life, since so many jobs highly encourage some sort of degree (and experience, but that’s another point).

I don’t think we should get rid of academics outright, but rather make modifications in the school curriculum and incorporate more vocational classes alongside the “textbook-style” courses. Both types of classes should co-exist together, in order to ensure a more even distribution between theoretical and practical application. Considering that children spend so much of their days in the classroom, well, shouldn’t we try to make sure that all of their efforts are worth it?

That about sums up my thoughts on education in America. I am sure that this post is by no means a comprehensive take on the school system, and I would be glad to hear your opinions on this issue. Feel free to comment, and I wish you a good day.

…and welcome back to school, kids! 😛

— The Finicky Cynic

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One thought on “School System in the U.S.

  1. Great post! This video definitely made me think too when I first came across it. I’ve always recently been seeing videos pop up where people talk about what they wish they learning in school, which I find really interesting. One of my favorite people to watch online brought up that she would love to have class on sexting–because, honestly, how do you even go about doing that? hahaha Plus, can you imagine that class? That’d be amazing.

    But on a serious note, it is something that many people think about. Why is so important that we know basic trig in the real world, but are never taught how to do our taxes? I loved your arguments on the importance of English and science, though. Because I will be an English teacher one day, I’m always thinking about how I’ll need to address the question “why do we have to know this?” Luckily for me, English is a pretty easy subject to argue for, and I think I’ve come up with a pretty solid answer to tell my future students.

    Anyway, great post! And I’m really glad we’re talking about this. 🙂

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