Submitted By: Timothy Lee
When school requirements become increasingly competitive despite the perception that grades don’t determine who you are, the problem may lie in the system rather than in the individual. Society has begun focusing on the wrong areas in terms of raising a new generation of work-capable young men and women. The current school system has its flaws, and they are not just limited to the use of tests as assessments of ability. It stifles creativity, and, instead, rewards those who are capable of testing well in certain categories that are defined by the government.
In China, most high schools as well as large corporations have afternoon naps so that their students and workers can have a much needed mid-day break. John F. Kennedy, Napoleon, and Eleanor Roosevelt all took naps, and were very successful in their careers. Naps are one solution to a problem, but, a larger problem does exist and a fix is desperately needed.
Having had the opportunity to be homeschooled and part of a Chinese private school in Beijing, China, I found the benefits existent in resting in the afternoon. During my two year stay in China, I began the practice of taking naps occasionally. The school I attended in China, the Beijing Royal Foreign Language School, had a 2 hour break for lunch daily. The advantage brought forth by this time period was that it allowed students to get some rest after the first half of their day. As studied by the University of Lubeck, napping allows for the consolidation of memories and can be especially helpful in retaining information for a longer term. After moving back to the States, opportunities to take a nap are few and rare. After eating lunch, one can sometimes become tired or feel that they need a short break to digest or simply take their mind of studies. Having experienced this myself, I believe that extended afternoon breaks will be a welcome change to help solve this problem. Arguments exist that school would have to end later, but, with such changes, student productivity would increase and allow for work to be completed faster and more effectively.
Naps are one way to increase student productivity, but another problem that schools face, is that the current educational system rewards those who are able to test well rather than any other factors. Currently, I live in the Bay Area and I attend one of the most competitive schools in the area, Monta Vista High School. At Monta Vista High School, academic stress and extracurricular activities can sway students into procrastinating. Rather than study ahead of time, students resort to cramming for tests and hoping for the best. The current school system rewards this sort of behavior by rewarding students who are able to retain short-term information of government curriculum rather than imagination, hard work, or any other factor. Standardized testing provides a one-size-fits-all approach to assessing students, and, rather than promote inventiveness and uniqueness, the public school system adopts this system because they believe there is no better alternative to evaluating students. While solutions to fix this problem may be difficult to find, a community that supports uniqueness rather than a system that churns out homogeneous individuals is key to developing young men and women into the leaders of the next generation.
Uniformity, as encouraged by the current educational approach, is a current problem that is being created by the school system. The current system prepares students who, like machines, memorize and store similar information. However, unlike machines, these individuals are human and are forgetting. If we are not the same as machines, why are students being funneled through a system where creativity and uniqueness is not rewarded? Naps are one solution to fixing immediate learning problems, but, a better solution needs to be put in place. Our educational system has a gaping flaw, and a critical problem that would need to be addressed, before it is too late.
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