The Meaning of Education in Today’s Society
I am right around the corner from turning 4 decades. I recall very clearly my years in grade school and what I remember was looking forward to Physical Education. The main reason was that it was fun. Most of my classes like those of today were focused on language arts, math or some type of science. I cannot say that the courses were hard, but I do recall that the emphasis was on teaching subjects which I could appreciate and somehow use for my personal growth. We obviously needed to take tests so that our teachers knew that we were learning, but it was not stressful. I can say that my experience was not only memorable, but also somewhat enjoyable. After school, I recall walking home several blocks and had a sense of security that I was safe.
Today I have three beautiful girls. My oldest is in middle school, the second is in grade school and the youngest is about to start pre-K. I am truly proud to say that they are following the same footsteps I did growing up and wanting to be good, responsible students. Even though they are going to a great charter school, my only concern is how each year they are overly stressed on taking a state mandated exam called the FCAT. I honestly don’t recall taking a similar exam every year in my K-12 years. The purpose that I gather for the FCAT is to make sure the children are learning at the level they are in, either in language arts or math. I have learned that society introduces remedies when something seems to be going wrong or broken. In my opinion and I am sure I am not alone in this, it changes the whole focus on why children should be going to school. As I stated, two of my girls are going to a charter school which is focused on academics at the thinking level.
The goal is not to teach and have the student regurgitate the information in the form of an exam, but to make them think on how what they are learning can be applied. They do place attention to the preparation of the FCAT; however, it is not the focus of the general curriculum. Since the FCAT is a measure whether a school is doing well or not, the focus in most school, especially public schools has been to make sure all their students do well in the FCAT. So I ask myself, are we emphasizing and investing our tax dollars so our children can pass an exam and make the school look good or are we interested in providing a learning environment that is both academically focused but also a memorable experience. This is just at the grade school level. As the child goes through middle school and high school, the pressure only gets tougher.