By: Hyung Seok Park
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,”
This wise saying encapsulates the fundamental purpose and goal of education: to spark people’s interest in pursuing knowledge. In theory, we are well aware of this notion, but, in practice, we pour cold water on the flames students hold in the dark corridor. The education system should stop this! It, instead, needs to sharpen its flints to ignite students’ passion towards obtaining knowledge.
The first and foremost problem of our education system lies in our college application standards. Striving to enhance their educational level, colleges have been seeking students who excel in multiple fields. In fact, some of the world’s most competitive colleges expect their applicants to have outstanding grades in every single subject. According to “collegesimply.com,” the average GPA of admitted freshman class in Harvard University was 4.04 out of a 4.0 scale, meaning that universities expect their applicants to have perfect grades in all subjects ranging from history, English, math and science to art, music, and P.E. As a result of this rigorous standards, students have no choice but to study all the subjects in the curriculum, even though they have no interest, no talent, no aptitude in some subjects.
On even days when I have history, I don’t want to get out of my bed in the morning. ‘Should I skip school today? Should I malinger?’ I ponder thousands of times in the morning of the day I have history. At this moment, you can think I have a habit of playing truant. However, you should change your mind when you see my grades in other subjects – always A+ in both math and science. Then, do I put much more effort and time into these two subjects than in history? Definitely NO! The effort and time I spend doing history homework and preparing for history test is considerably more and longer than that I spend for math and science! Nevertheless, I can never get a grade higher than B in history. No matter how hard I try, I cannot escape the endless cycle of B’s. This substantially lowers my GPA, regardless of how well I do in science and math. The problem does not confine to a decrease in GPA, but it demotivates me to work hard to perform academically well in the other subjects I used to have interest in.
It is true that the current education system’s multi-curriculum can foster students’ ability to adopt interdisciplinary approach to make their knowledge deeper and broader. Even so, our education system’s purpose should not be to bring forth a versatile DaVinci, because Renaissance genius is anachronistic in the modern society. Then, I would like to ask – is this really necessary? Should students who want to become engineers need to know the stylistic techniques used in a poem? Should students who want to become authors need trigonometry and Euclidean geometry?
Students should have the discretion to choose the subjects that will be included in their GPA, while they should take all the subjects. Only the chosen subjects related to a major each student wants to study at college should be included in the GPA, and the rest of the subjects should only be counted as credits required for graduation. That way, students will be able to immerse themselves in subjects they have zeal for without the burden of grades in subjects they dislike.
Our current education system should not be a destructive firefighter, but it should be a constructive arsonist of the wild fire in students’ academic pursuits.
- CollegeSimply. “Home.” Harvard University – Admission Chances, SAT and ACT Scores, GPA and Requirements, www.collegesimply.com/colleges/massachusetts/harvard-university/admission/.
- “EducationUSA.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, educationusa.state.gov/.
- Florence. “Leonardo Da Vinci, Subject of the Art Volume Presented by Menarini Pharmaceutical.” Menarini Group, 5 Mar. 2016, www.menarini.com/Home/Menarini-News/News/News-details/ArticleId/2278.
- Harris, Elizabeth A. “’Smart Is Something You Get’: How a Bronx School Succeeds.”The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Feb. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/02/02/nyregion/how-a-south-bronx-school-succeeds.html.
- Shimer, David. “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/nyregion/at-yale-class-on-happiness-draws-huge-crowd-laurie-santos.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Feducation&action=click&contentCollection=education®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront.
- “William Butler Yeats Quotes.” BrainyQuote.com. Xplore Inc, 2018. 28 February 2018. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/william_butler_yeats_101244