The U.S. education system has been around since the 17th century, nearly 400 years ago. As the years have gone by, the curriculum has changed, as well as the common technology that you would see in today’s classrooms. However, there is one thing that seems to have remained the same: students are still taught in a basic manner where learning is based on repetition and memorization.
While this may not have been a problem decades ago, when students in school were considered prospective industrial workers and were supposed to receive simple instruction for their anticipated factory jobs, the current times are far different. Jobs are much more diverse and require different levels of thinking, meaning that basic instruction in school may prove to be outdated.
Despite the relevance and effectiveness of the U.S. education system in earlier years, it is currently outdated and needs to be modernized as it does not apply to the diverse learning styles of today and does not prepare students for the real world.
Rote learning, because it focuses solely on repetition and memorization of facts, is a largely ineffective teaching style that is unfortunately utilized by our current education system in schools all over the nation. It is an old teaching style that was in place while prospective industrial workers were being educated for simple factory jobs. They were being taught to follow and remember basic commands, which was vital in a factory setting. Jobs today, however, are much more complex and diverse and require much deeper thinking than recall. Because of this, the prospective workers of today will need to be taught in a more complex, deeper manner that the simplistic style of rote learning just cannot accomplish, as it only focuses on memorization and repetition. Therefore, it is now outdated.
Not only is this learning style outdated, but it also can prove more ineffective than effective. While rote learning may help students to improve their memorization skills and their ability to recall basic information, it encourages cramming, which is when students try to memorize as much information as possible before an upcoming test or quiz. This does not help students actually learn, as the information they are forced to memorize for a test or quiz will quickly be forgotten after that test or quiz is taken. Therefore, students aren’t actually absorbing the information, meaning that they are not actually learning. Therefore, it is now an ineffective teaching style.
Different Learning Styles
Students have different learning styles that should be met so that they receive the highest quality education. The four most well-known learning styles are visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. It is also important to note that students are not necessarily reserved to one specific learning style. Their learning style may vary depending on the subject they are learning.
It is clear that students have diverse, varying learning styles. This means that in order to receive the best quality education, these needs will have to be met. However, the education system of today does not seem to cater to these learning styles. Instead, learning is based on repetition and memorization of facts that are deemed important for the students to know. Because rote learning leans more towards memorization and repetition of facts, it doesn’t acknowledge the other ways that students may learn; therefore, it does not cater to the multiple learning styles among students today.
Real World Learning
In the earlier years of the education system, schools weren’t so focused on the real-world aspects of their teachings because there didn’t seem to be a lot of pressure to learn such aspects. Students could be fine with just learning the basic concepts of different subjects, which was just what rote learning, could offer them.
Nowadays, another reason rote learning is no longer relevant is that it doesn’t prepare students for the rapidly changing real world, especially now that we are in the internet era, where information on different topics is rampant, and facts are easier to obtain. There needs to be a deeper understanding of certain concepts so that students can be prepared for this rapidly changing world, and rote learning cannot offer that on its own because it only focuses on the basic parts of more advanced concepts.
In order to modernize our education system and ensure that students receive a quality education relevant to this changing world, the U.S. can follow the lead of countries with higher-developed education systems.
Finland’s education system, for example, ranks one of the highest in the world. One of the main reasons for this is that the system is not so focused on learning based on memorization and instead is focused on other skills, such as critical thinking and creativity. Students are not taught to remember facts, but to know why some of these facts are true. They are given questions with difficult answers, and they are encouraged to find these answers not by being lectured on what they are, but by utilizing deeper thinking skills in order to find those answers. With the use of these skills, students will retain and absorb the information they discover, and therefore, will actually learn something.
If the U.S. follows Finland’s lead, we can modernize our outdated education system.
In conclusion, the U.S. education system is currently outdated and should be modernized, as it does not apply to multiple learning styles and does not prepare students for the real world. If the U.S. follows the lead of higher-developed countries, our education system will improve significantly and become more relevant in our ever-changing world.