I officially hate school. Not because I don’t enjoy learning but because I was ill prepared for an actual real, accredited school. I now officially have zero desire to attend school anymore. I talked a bit recently about my aptitude with memorization and about how it served me well in school. I don’t see that as something to be proud of. The reason it served me well in high school and college is because the curriculum used for both was based in memorizing information and spitting it back out. They tell you their version of the correct information and you memorize it and repeat it back and that’s it.
School was fairly easy for me. I don’t say that to brag, I say it because it is a great disappointment to me. School, in every way possible, from kindergarten all the way through college is supposed to teach you how to think. Not what to think, how to think. And there is a huge difference between the two. I have a huge problem with teaching children what to think. It’s wrong.
I’m going to be a little transparent here and tell you that I’ve now failed two graduate courses. That’s right, me, Larissa, the girl who’s fallback has always been school. The girl who has spent practically her whole life truly believing that grades and doing well in school was really the only thing she had going for her. The only thing that got her any attention or made people think she was smart. The only thing that ever made her feel as if she had a tiny smidgen of worth.
I know it’s not the only thing I have going for me. It doesn’t actually matter that much. But it’s always been that thing. My thing. When I came out of homeschooling and started private school with A Beka, I discovered I was very, very good at memorization. And that’s why I did well.
I have heard many complaints, especially from my former world of homeschool Christian fundamentalism, as well as from others, about common core. And I honestly don’t understand it. I worked as a teaching assistant in a first grade classroom for one school year and all I can say is that it was an eye opening experience and one I’m am very grateful to have had. It turns out public school isn’t actually the complete and utter evilness I was made to believe it was.
The thing about common core is that it is just a set of standards, which any school should have. It’s a set of standards that each student should be able to meet. There is no one specific required way to teach these standards but every student should learn to meet those standards. And that’s a good thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of problems with the public education system, and I personally hate the standardized testing. It puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on teachers and stress on students and doesn’t really accurately demonstrate whether or not a student is doing well. There are no doubt many flaws in the way common core has been implemented. And there are certainly many other flaws in public education including both the way student’s learning is measured as well as in the way teachers are being taught to teach.
All that aside though, I like common core. When I had to sit every afternoon with my group of first grade students and work with them on their math I was surprised at how much sense it made to me to teach them to come at a math problem in a number of different ways. I understand the frustration of parents when they are expected to help their children with homework and they don’t understand what it is that is being asked. And that is definitely something that could be improved upon as well. But honestly, learning math in a way that asks you to come up with 3, or 4, or 5 different ways to answer the same problem is a GOOD THING. The point isn’t necessarily just to get the correct answer. The point is to learn how to work through the problem and to learn creativity in solving problems.
We are always going to face different situations in our lives whether at work or in our personal lives or when dealing with other people that more likely than not are going to require us to come up with more than just one way to approach the problem or answer the question. And that’s the problem with having a closed, singular mindset. Too many people believe that there is only one way to answer a question. That there is only one right answer. That if you don’t do it the one true correct way, then you are wrong.
Innovation. Isn’t that what moves society forward? If we all only ever believe that there is just one single right way to think and believe and do everything, we wouldn’t be where we are today. People who are innovators didn’t do what they did because they sat back and memorized information and gave the correct answer every time. I mean, don’t we believe that failure and incorrect conclusions are often the things that teach us the most?
Thinking outside the box is important. And that is something that I regret to admit I do not have any skill in. I am not a creative thinker. I can come up with maybe one way to fix a problem or approach an issue and if it isn’t going to work, that’s it, I’m done. I don’t know what else to do. I am perfectly willing to listen to other people’s ideas but I really dislike the fact that I am not an out-of-the-box, positive, innovative, creative thinker. I think some people are probably born with this skill just as I was born with the skill to memorize but I think it is far more important that every person is able to learn how to think in creative ways than to just memorize information.