By Bausch Koh
Childhood is commonly perceived as the best time of a person’s life, since it is when you’re supposed to have the most fun and not need to work for anything. With this in mind, children should not be spending up to 18 years in classrooms with drab, stale textbooks in the spotlight. The excessive and laborious educational process means that students are already entering adulthood at approximately 21 years of age when they graduate, having lost most of their youth. All the time invested on studying now translates into three certainties – death, taxes, and work.
Reductions need to occur to the time spent in middle school – grades six to eight. Currently, much of the content in middle school classes prove to be repetitive, thus learning is slow-paced and students are unable to pursue new knowledge. Countless “learning activities” regurgitate ideas that are already understood, stagnating academic progress while disposing of precious time.
For starters, schools could offer an optional pre-high school program, taking between 0-2 years, depending on individual capabilities. Students with adequate knowledge that are emotionally mature enough may move on to high school, while those who require a transitional period have access to this program. Another intriguing possibility is the introduction of a break between elementary and high school. Here, students spend 1-2 years pursuing interests such as art, sports or music. By the end of elementary school, many have already developed a prowess or talent for a particular career. Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov had already been travelling around the world to compete in tournaments as a grandmaster by the time he was 13. The freedom of these “break” years may give students a taste of what it’s like to be a full-time athlete, for example, before granting them the possibility of returning to school after their exploratory trial.
This is not a new conjecture. Harvard’s Ed magazine published an article in 2012 titled “Do Middle Schools Make Sense?”, comparing middle school programs to systems where students move directly into high school. The evidence presented indicates that the removal of middle school years links to lower dropout rates, smoother transitions into high school, and higher standardized test scores. By no means does this mean that all systems across the world should be changed instantly, but adjustments must happen over time to revamp the current structure, as organizations learn to adhere to the benefits of this new method.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a person’s development in life. We deserve the freedom to analyze our individual potential and create a path that suits us. Besides, who knows what the future might hold for aspiring minds who are currently bound to a redundant system?
- “Eye Time Five Before Twelve.” Pixabay, Creative Commons, Dec. 2017, pixabay.com/en/eye-time-five-before-twelve-dial-3001154/.
- Tamer, Mary. “Do Middle Schools Make Sense?” Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Ed. Magazine, 5 Sept. 2012, 10:15a.m., www.gse.harvard.edu/news/ed/12/09/do-middle-schools-make-sense.
- “USNEI.” Structure of U.S. Education, U.S. Department of Education, 22 Feb. 2008, www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/edlite-structure-us.html.
- Waitzkin, Fred. “King Kasparov.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Oct. 1990, www.nytimes.com/1990/10/07/magazine/king-kasparov.html.