"Will I Even Ever Use This In Real Life?!" -me in every math class, ever.
September 9, 2016
If you didn't know already, I'm currently studying to earn my Master's in Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change here at CSU. It's a really interesting program, but more so, we've had lots of interesting coursework recently geared towards how we learn via digital content. It's made me think about how we learn, why we learn, and why we choose to pursue the fields of study that we choose to.
Surprise, surprise: I really loathe math. It was never a strong point for me, but I remember the day it all fell down the drain--in my 4th grade classroom when we started going over fractions.
Me: "Why are the numbers on top of each other?"
Teacher: "It's called a fraction, it means it's a portion of the number instead of the whole thing."
Aaaaaand, the rest is history. I was a history major in my undergrad, after all.
As people, we seek knowledge. We strive to learn and absorb and create. And what's exciting about seeking knowledge in 2016 is all the different ways we can obtain it. You can search YouTube for a video about how to do just about anything, and find it. How cool is that?! For class, I just watched Will Richardson's TEDx talk about education and adjusting education to fit the changing needs of society. What's interesting is how people define what it means to be successful in school. Test scores. Test scores. Test scores. This is all that our education system seems to care about when it comes to student success. Richardson mentions that schools are essentially "test prep" at this point--but we don't really need schools for test prep any longer. There are hundreds of online test-prep academies that students can access.
There are so many online ways for you to prepare for the ACT or the SAT, or to learn about the War of 1812, or to memorize how photosynthesis works. What do we actually use in our day-to-day lives that we learned in school? Not a whole lot, but a huge thing that school does teach is discipline. How to follow-through with your promises and stick to a schedule. These are important life skills.
But outside of that, what should we, at the core, teach our kids?
-How to find and feed their passions and their strengths.
-How to balance a checkbook.
-How to manage their time.
-How to behave in social situations.
-How to become resilient to change.
Many people dump on millennials for not being as driven as previous generations--but sometimes I feel like this current generation of working adults is a bit jaded. We were told our whole lives to just do well in school, perform well on tests, and then get into a good college. After you get into college, do well on more tests, sit for more exams, and graduate and get a good job. But, once we graduated, we realized that there were not many well-paying jobs available to recent graduates anymore. I just saw this in my younger sister. She graduated with honors, summa cum laude from her University. It still took her over a year to find a full-time job, and not for lack of her trying. How is this system setting us up for success?
There are so many ways for students to learn. So, how do we, as a society, help our students succeed in the best way possible? A student's worth should not be placed on a test score. It should not be based on how well they do on a history or math exam. It should be based on their ability to be kind to others and how they change society for the better. Yes, I do use fractions and other concepts from my math classes in grade school almost every day. So there you go, Mrs. Macchia. You were right. But what do I use more of? Common sense. Patience. Kindness. Time Management Skills. Let's set our next generation up to succeed, not fail.