6 Reasons Why Your Life is Harder Than it Needs to Be
How would you feel if you found out that the education you received was wrong on purpose? That’s right, everything your high school teachers and college professors tried to tell you was “important” was not actually important in your life.
Would you be angry? Feel betrayed? Or would you just accept it as just another example of how corrupt American society has become?
Here are 6 reasons why your life is harder than it needs to be.
The sixth reason your life is harder than it needs to be is because school forced you to take English, Math and Science classes in high school, instead of preparing you for real life.
Did you know that the actual curriculum English, Math and Science teachers use in your high school was actually developed back in the late 1800s and early 1900s?
How does that sit with you?
The fifth reason your life is harder than it needs to be is because people keep telling you that you must “learn to code” or else you won’t be successful.
Here’s a counterpoint. “Learning to code” is like telling someone they need to learn how to drive or learn how to sew, or learn how to unclog toilets. The truth is that “learning to code” is a trade skill. Like any trade skill, you need to learn it if you want to work in that field.
Thus, you need to get an auto-mechanic certificate if you want to work on cars. You need to get certified before you can be a plumber or electrician. Therefore, if you want to be a computer programmer or work in the IT field, you should learn how to code.
Otherwise, it’s a complete waste of your time.
The fourth reason your life is harder than it needs to be is because you were forced to take standardized tests in middle school and high school.
Do you know what standardized tests measure? They measure your ability to read, write and do math on a 4th grade level.
Before you point to the low high school test scores, think about this for a hot second. If you normally read on a high school or college level, but then forced to take a test that is well below your reading, writing and math abilities, how well would you do on that test?
Before you guess the answer, a group of parents in New Jersey took the 4th grade standardized test. The truth is those parents did very badly on the test. That’s right, the parents failed the test.
What you need to know is that all of the parents that volunteered to take the test were college educated. That means they all could read, write and do math higher than 4th grade, and yet they didn’t score well on that standardized test.
How could that happen if the test actually measures your reading, writing and math levels?
The reason the parents bombed the 4th grade test and the reason why middle and high school test scores are so low is because you can’t trick your brain.
Forcing middle and high school students take a test designed for 10-year olds is like forcing an Olympic bicyclist to ride a tri-cycle or forcing a marathoner run in snow instead of pavement.
The truth is we can test, measure and score anything we want. The question we need to ask ourselves is why are we making older students take a test designed for 10-year olds? What’s the point? The reason this makes your life harder is because it wastes 5+ weeks of your school year from grades 6 through 12.
Just in case you can’t do the math, that’s nearly 36 weeks of time wasted on standardized testing. There are only approximately 40 weeks of school in one calendar year. That means, middle and high school students lose nearly one academic year due to taking the test. It’s time to move on.
The third reason your life is harder than it needs to be is because schools thought they could teach you about computers and technology and then learned the hard way that you knew more than the teachers.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, schools have been battling the “chase” against technology for the last 50 years. Back in the 1980s, schools bought TVs and VCRs for every classroom so teachers could integrate more video into their lessons.
Guess what happened? The teachers didn’t know how to work the VCRs.
Fast forward to the early 2000s, when schools spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring interactive whiteboards into the classroom, but the same thing happened. The teachers didn’t know how to use the technology.
Let’s look at what is happening now? It’s the same thing all over again. Districts spend hundreds of millions of dollars “chasing” the latest technology trend, but the minute they put the technology into the classroom — the students have to teach the teachers how to use it.
I thought the idea was that the teacher was teaching the students, not the other way around?
The second reason your life is harder than it needs to be is because your teachers, principals and school district tried to fool you. That’s right, they thought you wouldn’t notice that teaching you how to memorize names, dates and formulas was going to be valuable in the future.
The truth is that there is no need to memorize anything in the 21st century. Why would you even waste your brain energy on memorizing basic facts that could be retrieved with a smart phone or tablet in 2.3 seconds from an internet search?
If you end up using specific formulas in your career, you will naturally memorize them because you use them so often. But what’s the purpose of making every single student memorize information they will NEVER need again?
The truth is that school should be focused on helping you achieve your dreams and your goals. The truth is that schools are supposed to be student-centered. Here’s how you can tell your school is NOT student-centered, even when they promise they are.
Look at the curriculum. If your school is still teaching the same old courses from the 1920s, then how is that student-centered? If your school does not teach 21st century skills, how can they help you?
If you are in a real 21st century learning environment, the student is center stage. Your dreams, your aspirations and your goals are what matter, not testing if you can name the 46 Presidents in a row?
The problem facing our school system is that it CANNOT become modern, as long as, the academic elite refuse to admit they are in over their heads. The truth is that most teachers have NO idea how to engage student attention anymore.
It’s time that teachers, administrators and academic elites just admit the truth. The truth is it’s ok not to have all the answers, but what’s not ok is wasting students valuable time.
And the number one reason your life is more difficult than it needs to be is because your school did not teach you about success.
What is the purpose of school?
Should schools teach you random facts or should schools teach you how to be successful in whatever direction you want to go? No one, but you, knows what you want to do with your life. Shouldn’t schools help students figure out what you want to do before you graduate from high school?
How important would it be to know that you need or don’t need a college degree to pursue your dreams?
The truth is that not everyone NEEDS to go to college. If you want to be an artist, musician, reporter, contractor, electrician, plumber, etc, you don’t need college and going to college is a huge waste of money and time.
What if K12 districts stopped focusing on making you college and career ready and instead started focusing on helping you answer this question: “What do you want to do with your life?”
Learning How to Be Successful
In 2011, I was one of the first superintendents in America to adopt a 21st century skills curriculum for the K12 district I ran. That means, I have been teaching 21st century skills for the last decade.
When you teach kids “how to be successful” there is a different vibe in your school and classrooms. The reason is because the school switches from being adult-centered, to student-centered.
How do you increase the level of student engagement for middle and high school kids? The answer is by making them the “star” of the show. What is the most important question that kids need to answer in school?
The most important question is, “What is your dream?”
If you have spent even five minutes with a kid, how long can they focus on themselves? How long would they think about their own life and their own future? The answer is ALL DAY!
Shouldn’t schools challenge kids intellectually, but also push them forward so they have a chance to follow their dreams? Whether a kid wants to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, nurse, contractor, musician, painter, poet, etc — the school needs to start asking kids to question this question: “What do you want to do with your life?”
Becoming a 21st Century Leader
As part of the 21st century skills curriculum my high school students learned, they were exposed to 21st century leadership skills. And to make it as simple to understand as possible, there are six steps to follow if you want to become a 21st century leader.
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About the Author:
D. Scott Schwartz, M.Ed. can be found on Twitter and Instagram with the handle “@theschooldoc.” He hosts a LIVE weekly podcast on IG called “Tuesdays with Schwartz” which discusses 21st century skills and how to be more successful in life. He does consulting work for Education Development Institute, an education think tank that helps businesses and schools maximize their potential in the new millennium.