Teaching to the Brain? No, to the Test

Maura Fennelly, Feature Editor

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The definition of education is the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life (Dictionary.com).

Now if someone were to ask a class of high school students if they think that they are being educated in this way, the majority of students would not raise their hand in agreement. So far in my two and a half years of high school, I have experienced and witnessed such a high number of situations where students cram knowledge into their brain before any type of assessment, and then a week later that knowledge is replaced by more material the student needs to know. There is such a huge pressure on students to get high grades that the purpose of school, which is to educate, is completely forgotten.

In junior school and elementary school it seems that kids are more intrigued by what is being taught. Projects and activities make children use their minds and be creative. Kids are open to learning about things because there isn’t such a huge pressure on grades during these years. Of course grades still matter, but not nearly to the degree that they matter now.

There’s quite a bit of change when kids enter high school and transform into young adults. The whole idea of learning and expanding the mind with more knowledge is overpowered by the ideas of college, GPA, class rank, midterms, and finals. Whether or not a class interests a student, he or she is required to grasp the material to the best of his or her ability. This leads to another huge problem, when a student doesn’t find any appeal to a certain class, but still wants to get a good grade, he or she will do one of two things; the student is either going to memorize the material the day before a test instead of understanding the material’s value, or the student is going to cheat. The difference between the student who struggles to memorize and the student who cheats is that the student who memorizes the work has a possible chance of gaining some knowledge, but the student who cheats obviously has gained nothing. Even though the student who studied has memorized whatever information required and will receive an honest grade, he or she doesn’t see the purpose behind the information that was supposed to be gained as knowledge.

Education in high school seems to have lost its most important purpose, which is for students to expand their knowledge and use of ideas. The concept of students learning material about certain subjects and becoming more mature and intellectual for the future has been thrown away and replaced with modern values that are based solely on quantitative information. A grade point average is just a number, yet to a high schooler it represents so much to them: level of intelligence, high or regular honor roll, what colleges they can get in. What is no longer important to high schoolers is gaining knowledge that will help later on in life, but who can blame them?

The anxiety that students have on them to get into the “it” college completely overpowers the motivation to slow down and understand what is being taught. Students will keep on cramming or cheating, doing whatever necessary in order to get a high grade in a class. The pressure to have a high GPA or be high in class rank will keep on making kids look past the importance of education until that pressure is taken away. As young adults, high school is a time for us to soak in as much knowledge and learn as much about life as possible. No number or grade should make any student forget what education is truly about.