Over recent years, the content of the current education system has been criticized by various stakeholders for failing to adequately prepare young people to face the real world. The argument holds that schools channel most of their efforts to academic excellence as opposed to nurturing of critical thinking skills and other competencies crucial for one to successfully navigate the difficult terrain of life (Morgan, 2016). In this essay, I argue that schools dont prepare young people for the real world and suggest some of the measures which can be undertaken to ensure students are sufficiently equipped to face challenges of the real world.
In an education system where merit in academic excellence is treasured, parents spend a lot of money to accord their children the best education in science-oriented disciplines. This is done on the notion that excellence in STEM subjects offer children the opportunity for a better profession and good life (Means, Wang, Young, Peters, & Lynch, 2016). Although this does not undermine aspirations of students, such overemphasis diminishes the role of social and vocational skills in solving real-life situations. For this reason, vocation education should feature prominently in the curriculum to equip students with practical skills needed in handling real-life problems. For instance, students should be taught about plumbing, woodwork, and graphics, among other vocation subjects. Arguably, a student with basic skills in plumbing may not need a skilled plumber to unblock a toilet. Also, children who access information on healthy diets are likely to follow healthy eating habits. Such a category of informed young people is likely to avoid obesity in adult life.
The current education system is designed in a way that students have to learn ideas and concepts about a given subject and respond to structured questions. Given the requirement to undertake standardized tests, students often limit themselves to areas that are often tested while ignoring a wider content which may be of great help to them in interpreting real-life problems. More often than not, students engage in route learning which undermines their critical thinking capabilities (Morgan, 2016). To address this problem, students should be exposed to a syllabus that covers content which is not necessarily examinable in the national-wide standardized examinations. For example, students should have compulsory lessons about relationships, child marriage, domestic violence and the need for healthy marital relationships, contraceptive options, social media and cyberbullying, and LGBT issues. The integration of these lessons into the curriculum has the potential to prepare children and teenagers for the social life in the real world as opposed to exposing them knowledge which only emphasizes on academic excellence. However, the content must be delivered based on age-appropriateness of children.
Recognition of the role of extracurricular activities can empower young learners deal effectively with real world challenges. Students must be educated about physical education. Besides, talents should be nurtured to help them achieve their aspirations according to what is best for them and not as per the requirements of the education system or parents (Chan, 2002).According to Reid (2011), close collaboration between teachers, parents, caregivers and community leaders is an effective means of obtaining an in-depth view of the abilities and future potential of students in physical activities such as athletics. Examples abound of many individuals who have realized tremendous achievements in sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and crickets, among others. This evidence should give credence to focus more on aspirations and abilities rather than concentrating on academics alone.
Given the preceding discussion, stakeholders need to acknowledge that schools fail to adequately prepare young people for challenges of the real world. The problem results from the overemphasis on academics and not achievement of individual aspirations. This situation can be remedied through vocational training, talent management, and education of students on social realities such as relationships, contraceptive options, and child marriage, among others. A model of education creating a balance between academics and aspirations can be an effective tool of preparing young people for the real word challenges.
Chan, D. W. (2002). Chan nurturing giftedness of students in schools: A curriculum for talent development. Educational Research Journal, 17(1), 1-18.
Means, B., Wang, H., Young, V., Peters, V. L., & Lynch, S. J. (2016). STEM-focused high schools as a strategy for enhancing readiness for postsecondary STEM programs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53(5), 709-736. doi:10.1002/tea.21313
Morgan, H. (2016). Relying on high-stakes standardized tests to evaluate schools and teachers: A bad idea. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 89(2), 67-72. doi:10.1080/00098655.2016.1156628
Reid, M. (2011). Teaching implications of gifted and talented learners within the mainstream classroom. Journal of Student Engagement:Education Matters, 1(1), 29-32.
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