After sitting in a 3 hour long class of listening to my driving instructor talk about the danger I am to society and my 2 ton bullet that I drive, I just need to rant about something. Back in May I was driving to school and got pulled over by a Germantown cop for slowly rolling through a stop sign covered by trees in a practically deserted neighborhood. Ok in the real version of this story I was speeding and fully intended to “disregard” this stop sign because I was running incredibly late, but that doesn’t really matter because the ticket just says disregarded stop sign so I get to fill in the blanks with whatever I want. Anyway, apparently in Germantown there’s this first offenders program that let’s you keep your ticket off of your record as long as you do six hours of community service and attend the “Safe Driving Class.” So I did my community service and tonight I went to the driving class. While I was pretending to listen to this retired cop talk about the dangers of drinking and driving (which apparently all teens do), I realized that our educational system is really flawed.
Most classes that we are required to take in high school and college are about an hour long or more. Now compare that time to the average person’s attention span which is between 15-20 minutes. That just seems crazy to me that so much time is being wasted in class when students are no longer able to effectively retain information. Even though our attention spans regenerate after a quick break, it doesn’t really help because they become shorter each time. I mean by the end of a class we should statistically be zoning out every couple of minutes. So with these things in mind, why are our class periods so long?
I actually had time to formulate a couple theories in between the videos “Red Asphalt” and “What’s In Your Breathalyzer Test” I think that one of the reasons that our school days in high school are so long is that parents and other people in authority are trying to keep us occupied. Maybe they think that if we spend so much time in school and then do a couple hours of homework that we’ll “stay off the streets,” or maybe they simply don’t want to feel responsible for the things that we do. Also, I think that maybe high school teachers have to work 8 hours a day so they can get benefits and, of course, enough money to live on. Tell me if you have any other ideas because there has got to be a logical reason why we have to spend an hour in class when most of the material could probably be covered in half that time. While I think that high school classes are way too long I can understand that our college classes have to be lengthy because we don’t meet every day.
So I’m pretty much supportive of the way college courses are set up but I think that high school and maybe even middle school could use some work. While I haven’t had much time to think these ideas through, I like how they sound at least right now. First of all class periods, would be shorter, probably about 30 minutes, and would mainly focus on the difficult or main points in the lesson and there would probably be some sort of assigned reading to fill in any gaps. After those class periods there would be an optional study hall type of thing where all of the teachers of various subjects would be in their class rooms to more thoroughly discuss anything they think is necessary or that the student needs help with. Also, the extra classes like Art, Drama, or Business would meet twice a week and mainly have projects due. Even if these ideas wouldn’t actually help our educational system, I still think it desperately needs some sort of makeover. We have come so far from the more classical approach to learning which involves individual attention and lessons adapted to the student’s abilities that I think the system has lost its true goal. Now, instead of offering students knowledge and broadening their points of view, schools try to occupy us, teach us discipline, and prepare us for college. I am not saying that these things are necessarily bad; I just think that they shouldn’t be such a huge goal. Anyway, after talking about all this stuff I’ve begun to see home schooling as an excellent, and maybe even superior, alternative to regular high school.