Push students to be passionate about their work

In recent years, there has been a steep decline in the quality of the American education system, ranking 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2017. America is the most technologically advanced country in the world, so why are our academic achievements considerably lower than other nations?

It wasn’t until forecasting for classes, listening to students boasting about their high GPAs and advanced placement classes that I realized the American educational system didn’t fit the needs of everyone.  There becomes a distinct separation between kids who solely focused on taking hard classes and getting excellent grades and kids who weren’t doing as well in the required high school classes. Unfairly, these were the kids who were then affected with a lower GPA and are sometimes labeled as “unintelligent.” Is our nation starting to value the idea of academic success over personal success and interests?

Comparing the current failing American educational system to the successful educational system of Finland, it’s clear to see the differences between the two.

All schools in Finland are public, meaning everyone has an equal chance to get the same level of education. Finland listens to the needs of their scholars, focusing on how to modify the school day to make kids more curious about learning. For every 45 minutes of teaching, comes 15 minutes of break. And after school, homework isn’t the priority. In effect, kids are given the freedom to discover what they are passionate about.  

Apart from the drastic differences in teaching, standardized testing doesn’t exist in Finland like it does in America. The problem with standardized testing lies within the name itself. It forces kids to grow accustomed to aiming at one goal when not everyone has the same interests or abilities. It traps kids into a one-size-fits-all box, when assessments could be used to help kids break out of these boxes.

Arguably, pushing kids to excel in high school required classes through tests and piles of homework could lead to success. And it’s understandable that standardized tests are a way to measure progress. Yet ironically, we embrace standardized testing in a world where ingenuity is so valued that the economy is starting to terminate standardized jobs due to technology. In the future, not everyone will ace standard curriculum or even graduate to then go to college, but it’s still possible that these people can be successful like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

Success isn’t measured in the hours we work, but in our passion for our work. The goal is to encourage the desire to push outside the boundaries and to stop being confined within them.