The Problem with High School

WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH

Throughout my schooling experience I was always told to wear the correct uniform, act a certain way, and learn the way they wanted me to. They told us that this would prepare us for real life. It didn’t.

CULTURE

At the beginning of this year, I began my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, only to realize that my entire experience in high school was a lie. As I entered the University campus for the first time I was greeted with such a diverse group of people of all ages, races, genders and cultural backgrounds. Throughout my entire school life I was exposed only to people my age, and relatively the same cultural standings. I entered my schooling life with the exact same people I graduated with. Throughout the years, friendships formed, cliques grew and people changed. However, after school bonds were severed. I myself have talked to less than half of the people I considered friends during school, replacing them with studies and newer, more like-minded people. High school, for many people, does not teach the social skills and flexibility required to deal with people in the real world, rather teaching students that individuality and having beliefs that counter that of the hive-mind will lead to failure in life. Communicating with, and understanding cultural differences is such a vital skill that so many recent graduates totally lack.

WORKPLACE

Getting my first job at McDonald's showed me just how little preparation for the workforce high school gave me. They provided none of the necessary tools needed in the day-to-day working environment. Upon my first shift I found it difficult to communicate effectively with my managers and crew trainers, making the training process tedious. During my schooling I was told to never speak unless spoken to, ask before I do anything significant (even go to the toilet!), and never to question orders. While these traits may go down well in a military environment, in a casual workplace it sets you up for failure. Things I have come to learn include:

  • Speaking to superiors like actual human beings
  • Workers rights
  • Payrolls
  • Workplace health and safety
  • Etc.

While I understand that some of these are learn-as-you-go lessons, I believe that school, as a preparation for the adult life, should really cover these basics.

AMBITION

For young adults with high ambitions, school is a spout of mundanity. As shown by multiple studies, fixed schedule repetition is a killer of creativity. At an age where developing your morals, ambitions and interests is so important, the stripping of individuality and limiting of social experiences can be detrimental to a young persons ambition. For 12 years, students are expected to sit through the same 5 days, repeated with only minor changes each year. The learning style of students is fixed, catering to a specific type of child and leaving students who require different forms of learning at a disadvantage. We grade children off of their memory, tests are no more than a way of measuring a child's ability to recall the information they crammed into their brain hours before the test, and will undoubtedly forget minutes after leaving it. Assignments are not any better; they measure a child's ability to look at other peoples work and re-word it to suit their needs. We do not have a form of testing that can reliably test a students critical thinking or actual intelligence. I have too many friends who were extremely successful in school, only to struggle in university and in the workforce.

CONCLUSION

Students everywhere are believing that high school will prepare them for life after they leave school and all the way into their adult lives. Little do they know, it won’t even prepare them for the walk out of the school gates. A reform of how and what we teach is required to prepare young adults with the skills and mindset needed to compete successfully in modern society.

“Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.” — Bill Gates

These are just a few of the things that I have learnt in the 6 months since finishing high school.