Education plays an important role in every individual’s life and the whole nation’s destiny. For this reason, the emphasis should be put on the content of the national education programs, having a significant impact on the consciousness of the growing generation. However, there is much space for improvement in contemporary education systems inducing students to do the monotonous primitive assignments.
Descriptions of the American School System by Michael Moore in Idiot Nation and John Gatto in Against School are similar to my own high school experience full of boredom and dissatisfaction. Description of school lessons in Gatto’s Against School is close to my own perception of the teaching-learning process but helps to view the problem from a new perspective. Teachers and students as the main participants of the teaching-learning process are inclined to shift the responsibility for the low effectiveness of the programs on each other. On one hand, learners blame their tutors in lack of knowledge and inability to generate their interest. Most young people consider their teachers to be the party responsible for their low academic achievements. My own high school lessons did not become a memorable experience for me.
I remember the monotonous routine of doing the same senseless assignments day by day. It was really hard for me and my classmates to come to realization of the usefulness of learning the enormous amounts of theoretical materials and sitting around, wasting our time. It seemed that our program was separated from the rest of life and there was hardly any link between the class discussion and the reality outside the classroom. Our tutors explained that the education programs were not aimed at entertaining learners. The high school lessons were compared to taking medicines, being unpleasant but useful. We wondered why it was impossible to combine the business with pleasure and make the lessons more exciting and closer to reality. Receiving the grades remained the primary motivation for learning the materials and developing skills for me and other learners.
On the other hand, suffering from the ineffectiveness of the education programs, teachers are bored at the lessons as well but they shift the responsibility on their students. “Boredom is the common condition of schoolteachers, and anyone who has spent time in a teachers’ lounge can vouch for the low energy, the whining, the dispirited attitudes, to be found there” (Gatto XIII). John Gatto’s description of education process is rather realistic, viewing the issue from the teachers’ perspective and providing the educators’ opinion of the problem. Gatto shed light on the endless circle of the teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards the education programs. I agree with the author that concentrating on the searches of the responsible party, the participants of the teaching-learning process do not look for the ways to enhance its effectiveness. I completely agree with Moore who puts emphasis on the content of contemporary education programs as the key factor for increasing their effectiveness. Actually, the idea of combining the business with pleasure in lessons occurred to me when I was a high school student. Saying that the whole high school course was boring and senseless would mean to distort the reality.
In fact, I remember several lessons that were really exciting. Analyzing those activities, I must admit that I and my classmates were impressed when our teachers provided us with an opportunity to fill the gap between theory and practice and implement our knowledge in real life. The fact is that human memory has got certain laws and functions in accordance with them. It can retain plenty of information that appears to be interesting for a learner. Moore uses an example of sports events popular among all categories of population and offers implementing the same principle in education programs.
“Our challenge, Chomsky said, was to find a way to make politics as gripping and engaging as sports” (Moore 38). Though the question whether it is possible to make the teaching-learning process exciting remains rather controversial, the attempts to generate the learners’ interest in their academic activities are praiseworthy. Striking the right balance between the form and the content of education programs, teachers could enhance their effectiveness significantly. Certainly, literacy is impossible without learning all the necessary theoretical materials. Still, educators could obey the laws of human memory instead of struggling against them.
Thus, altering diverse activities during the lesson and allowing the students to realize their creative potential, educators could enhance the popularity and effectiveness of their lessons significantly. At the same time, instead of complaining of the lack of students’ interest, teachers could find the ways for generating it. For example, the majority of contemporary students are keen on computer games and other multimedia devices. This could become a blessing in disguise for developers of school programs.
Incorporating the elements of innovative techniques into the teaching process, teachers could take advantages of them instead of discussing their dramatic impact on the learners’ academic achievements and intellectual development. Describing the contemporary state of American education, Moore is rather realistic, and following his advice as to changing the approach to the content of education programs could be helpful for increasing their effectiveness and curing the education system in general. Defining the primary goal of contemporary education is important for changing the approach to the content of the programs.
From my personal high school experience I remember that developing the main academic skills was the primary goal of my teachers. And we felt as trained animals performing at the concerts. We were so bored with monotonous academic activities that could not rate their usefulness at it true value. The goal of education is much broader than developing the basic learning skills. Education programs without exciting assignments aimed at generating the learners’ interest are similar to body without a soul. The scheme is right, but lacking a significant element, it does not work.
“The Dilemma Training vs Education may be introduced […] on a more fundamental level, as an intelligence vs. intellect dilemma” (Krasko 63). This issue becomes especially topical due to the present day progress of scientific knowledge. The education programs are unable to provide the learners with all the necessary information for the rest of their life. As opposed to descriptions of the school realities by Gatto and Moore and my personal high school experience, present day researchers shift the emphasis on the content of education programs. Describing the American School System, Michael Moore in his Idiot Nation and John Gatto in his Against School raise the most burning issues of contemporary school, trying to get to the roots of the problems and offer the solutions.
Being realistic, these descriptions resemble my own high school experience, enabling me to view the situation from a new perspective.
Gatto, John. Prologue.
Against School. By Gatto. Canada: New Society Publishers, 2009. Print. Krasko, Genrich. This Unbearable Boredom of Being: A Crisis of Meaning in America.
Lincoln: iUniverse Inc., 2004. Print. Moore, Michael. Idiot Nation. New York: Penguin, 2005.