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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pointing fingers only fails students

    American students are brought up to wrongly fear failure. The feeling of dismay that comes with facing the wrath of your parents when your report card has an “F” on it seems like something that should be avoided at all costs. But the fault lies with parents who need to rein in their rage and re-evaluate their expectations. Failure shouldn’t be commended, but it also shouldn’t be condemned.

    The fear of failure defines the major flaw in our educational system. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” said Sir Ken Robinson, a New York Times bestselling author.

    The U.S. educational system has lost sight of failure’s role. Instead of teaching students that failing an assignment or two can serve as a learning experience, most students learn it’s a sign of stupidity. Failure is merely a temporary setback, but school officials are so worried about scores and rankings that bad grades becomes this ugly label stamped on a “disappointing” student.

    Throughout the year there have been talks of educational reform. President Barack Obama introduced the “Race To The Top High School Commencement Challenge” that has school district officials scrambling for educational reform in hopes of getting the cash prize rewards. According to The New York Times, schools in Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland and New York have begun implementing teacher evaluation programs as a way to reform their school districts.

    Teachers have become the scapegoats for our educational failure. While eliminating bad teachers is a step in the right direction, evaluations can also cause teachers to pander to students or parents to get a good review. It’s a terrible solution. America doesn’t need to point fingers, it needs educational revolution.

    As it is now, education is merely a machine, where students move from conveyer belt to conveyer belt — that is to say from school to school — attempting to end up with a college’s stamp of approval and a job. This assembly-line system may work for factories turning out products, but students are people, and just going through the motions isn’t enough.

    Intelligence is far more than doing well in a class or on a test. Some of the biggest names in science and technology failed or dropped out of school. U.S. schools focus on cramming as much knowledge into students’ heads right before a test, then students regurgitate it and after empty their brains of all that information — it doesn’t support learning, it supports intellectual bulimia. The current mode of education is skewed to favor pupils who can memorize quickly over visual, creative and active learners.

    Americans support a school system that expects identical performance from millions of different children, and then are angry when their children fail. While politicians argue about how best to reform U.S. education, reform should also happen at home. Not everyone can get an “A” in every class. Not everyone should get an “A” in every class.

    Instead of buying into the same archaic system, Americans need to realize that comparing test scores or GPAs doesn’t accurately show what problems are in schools or their solutions. Students failing doesn’t mean they’re failures. School is when they should be making mistakes and learning from them. It’s ludicrous to demand perfection from students in an imperfect school system. Schools and national standards should be reformed to reflect reality.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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