Arooj Ahmad says, “We must think differently about human capacity. The old habits of our institutions and their environments must be reformed.”
15-year-old Arooj Ahmad, a sophomore at Libertyville High School in Chicago, Illinois, has taken a “focused interest” in the US education system, and he has a plan to fix it. According to the Washington Post, the high-achieving teen believes that US schools spend all of their time focusing on the memorization of facts so students can pass the state-mandated standardized tests, and completely neglect teaching “relevant knowledge that can help them select a career path.” Ahmad asserts that the education system in the US does not teach students to think critically, but instead generates “compliant workers for the economy.” He also points out that this type of education system kills creativity, and leaves graduates with little to no idea what they want their career path to be when they leave high school and either enter the workforce or move on to college.
While learning how to memorize can sharpen the mind, it is only one small step in the cognitive process. Education should be an enlightening experience. Students should not feel like part of an assembly line. In fact, the current system was designed in the context of the Industrial Revolution, and surprising parallels of factory life can even be seen in today’s schools: bells, rigid divisions of subject, and classification by age group. As children become teens, they begin to see fewer possibilities when they should be seeing more. Instead of developing necessary skills and natural talents concurrently, school conditions its subjects for only one possible future: college – a continuation of this traditional system in a somewhat more enlightening atmosphere … Learning should be messy! Divergent thinking can be taught. Teachers, administrators, policy makers, and even students will have to step out of their comfort zones to remove the standardized, short-term mentality about learning … Students shouldn’t learn material just for the sake of passing the test. They should learn for the sake of learning. Students should enjoy going to school … Learning environments should look less like factories and more like laboratories, meeting rooms, and coffee shops.
Read Arooj Ahmad’s full criticism and plan for reform here.
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