School reform should include choice
A while back I wrote an article about the school system. It talked a lot about why reform isn't coming about in school, but it didn't talk about how reform should come about. I don't think it's fair to criticize how something is, without proposing an alternative.
The main point of the reform I believe in is choice. As students go through life, we are faced with more and more choices, with higher and higher stakes. I do not feel that school adequately mirrors this increase in freedom and responsibility. More variety in the areas of graduation requirements and education styles will help students to better prepare themselves for the future.
My thoughts are mostly for high school. I believe that high school students are young adults, and as such, should be given as much freedom and responsibility as possible. However, I believe that younger children are also intelligent, and giving them more choices as children, will help develop the life skills they need as they grow up. So, when reading my thoughts, I would have people think of these first as suggestions for high school, and then as concepts for lower levels of education.
Greater graduation requirement variety addresses the fact that not all students will go down a certain path after high school. Not only this, but as high school students, many of us know we want an alternative route, and this route is unavailable. As a student in a college prep school, I know that students who wish to go into the manual labor work field after high school are at a disadvantage. This is why I felt strongly about measure 98 and was very glad when it passed.
My vision for graduation requirement variety is that if a student has a non-academic future they want to invest in, they can work with the school system to further their education in that area instead of wasting time in school just to meet graduation requirements that won't help them after high school. More variety in the in-school classes would help with this, but there also needs to be more room for students to avoid coming to school if they won't benefit from more classes. Graduation requirement variety would allow students to begin preparing for life after high school while still in high school.
Greater education style variety addresses the stagnant feeling of school. Students go from one class to another, where they sit and listen to their teachers talk, or memorize information for tests. Changing this would help classes to be less monotonous and give students more options. Some thoughts are discussion classes, where students discuss current events. Teachers would be there to facilitate discussions, but would otherwise stay out of the way of the students. The more student-run a class is, the better. I know that classes can't be completely student run, but self-managing improves many life skills. Also, if students choose the subjects, then they will want to participate more because they will choose subjects they enjoy.
Another way to increase education style variety is by changing how grades are decided. For instance, relying on participation grades instead of just assignment grades. Another part of grades that could be altered is tests. Giving oral tests, for example, would change the feel of an entire class. Education style variety doesn't just make classes more interesting, it gives students who struggle with traditional school a better chance at succeeding, and helps students who don't struggle to grow and become better at multiple styles of learning.
Overall, more variety will allow the school system to serve more students and serve them better; and this is the goal of school. I am thankful for changes that have already taken place, and changes that are already in the works. I love that school strives to change to help students, and I love that I have a chance to help drive this positive change. I know that this is a road that will continue on and not end at "perfection," but I believe it is a road that will always lead to "better."
Daisi Faville is a senior at Wilsonville High School.