Education is something that many of us take for granted, but it plays such a big role in strengthening the social fabric that holds us together. A person’s education is the backbone of their attempts to pursue and reach their goals. It also can develop robust characteristics in people, such as curiosity, creativity and optimism.
Below I've listed some areas of the US education system (pre-higher education) that interest me.
Screens are playing a larger part not just in our everyday lives but also with regards to education. Chromebooks, designed with little memory on the assumption that users can complete all their tasks on the Internet instead of local applications, are now becoming commonplace in schools. This can be a tricky line for educators to traverse as screens are often synonymous with entertainment (TV, YouTube, TikTok, etc). Unless students develop habits of using positive educational platforms (i.e. GitHub, Medium, Dribbble, National Geographic) instead of constantly digesting screen content, screens could play a detrimental role in the development of students’ feelings towards the learning process.
Along with entertainment, social media is a dangerous and addictive consumer/communication channel that children can gain access to at a young age. Not only can it be unsafe, it can be very distracting. Many social media products are designed to be addictive, as they care about building strong networks on their platforms. While being connected on one of these platforms can feel great, a side effect of this can be continuous partial attention. It is difficult to truly capture how this affects overall productivity and innovation, but it may lead to positive technology usage by teachers and professors.
Schools are already clique-y in nature, which reinforces the problem of widespread unconscious bias in schools. However, the digital sphere has created new spaces in which students can communicate and create social groups. Now people who normally wouldn't associate with one another in the public eye can comfortably connect online over shared interests. On the other hand, the Internet can encourage toxicity to develop within individuals; when unregulated, the freedom of the Internet can have deep, negative consequences. There's a lot of pressure on parents and teachers to monitor students and help guide them towards healthy behavior, both online and in person.
It's not until entering higher education (college/university) that students are exposed to a vast number of topics. They may be learning about subjects like math, science, literature, writing, art, etc. in depth, but the actual curriculum's approach can make the subject matter feel flat or dull. This in turn can discourage students from diving deeper or applying what they've learned outside of school. Schoolwork can become a blocker preventing students from living their lives with a bit more delight and happiness. By adding more niche options to high school curriculum (e.g. computer skills such as typing, programming or graphics, cooking, gardening, personal finance), students will be able to learn more about themselves and the process of discovery.
It's hard to attract great talent in rural areas when there isn't much to incentivize teachers to move into the area. This leads to a disparity in educational experiences between rural and urban areas, not to mention the difference in happiness students reported based on their location. The Internet can play a huge role in exposing rural students to higher-quality educational content and opportunities if their current curriculum is lacking. That's why it's important that classes for developing skills on how to use a computer are added to curriculum and Internet coverage expanded. A lot of doors are opened when a student is able to learn different ways to use a computer.
The Internet is a giant network that’s difficult for anyone to master maneuvering. Expecting students to quickly figure out how to approach the Internet (especially as they age and mature) is somewhat naive. If schools set up platforms for communities (such as by using Google Groups) and liberally regulate Internet usage on school-issued devices that students use for class, students are more likely to develop healthy habits when communicating with peers and authority figures.
The more that Internet usage becomes required to finish assignments and projects, the more opportunities teachers have to exert guidance on students’ Internet usage. Teachers can fine-tune the types of content students are citing and utilizing to finish their work. Teachers can even use different software in their curriculum (i.e. word processing, video editing, raster graphics editing, IDEs, 3D modeling) to help students discover new interests, satisfy their natural curiosity and learn skills they may apply in a work setting one day.
The curriculum of many classes revolves around a consistent stream of work/homework, occasional quizzes and methodically spaced-out tests. While this system seems effective,it can make the learning experience feel draining and monotonous for students. By adding more free-form, project-based assignments to classes, students can develop their own sense of conviction and creativity and produce solutions to an open-ended set of requirements. This can widen students' thinking about problems and change how they approach their own personal growth and goals.
Overcrowding is a huge problem in public schooling. Not only are oversized classes a not-so-ideal environment for learning, but teachers aren't able to do their jobs to their utmost potential when more is constantly being added to their plate. Online/home-schooling may become more prevalent in the future as parents and students try to avoid the displeasure of overcrowding. This should increase demand for quality educational products to help develop and nurture future generations.
Last updated: a year ago