Hello World. I'm Ankita.

Technology, Innovation, Impact. Humor on the side.

Oh, Education – What Have You Done?

My family moved to Texas right as I entered the 6th grade. My new school district had something called the “Gifted & Talented” program. It was marketed to my parents as a more challenging track of coursework, so obviously – they signed-up my siblings and me to get tested for it.

I can’t remember the specifics of all those tests, but when the results came back the school district superintendent sent my parents a personal letter. Apparently, I had scored in the 98th percentile of the “creativity test” – one of the highest scores of any student in the district – and the superintendent didn’t think there were enough/sufficient outlets at the school for my innate creativity. He’d recommended some opportunities in the greater community, but my parents didn’t think too much of it. I ended up labeled as “GT”, got into “GT” classes, but for the most part — I was totally bored.

In junior high, there were numerous projects with some level of autonomy which I’d spice up. But, as I went through high school, these became fewer and farther in between. Autonomous projects were replaced with mundane worksheets and suddenly, ability to excel in rote memorization (of math formulas, of facts and historic dates, etc.) essentially became the standard measure of academic ability.

I was not (and still am not) very good at memorizing things. But, what I was good at was looking at things very differently. As a result, I rebelled in some coursework and took academic risks that “good students” were not supposed to. For example, in the final exam of a high school biology test, instead of answering essay questions as one would expect, I gave my answers in hand-drawn comic strips. Did I answer the question correctly? Yes. Were they essays? No, but my drawings of Darwin, of cells talking to themselves, etc. still got the answer across. My teacher technically could have failed me, but I clearly knew the material, so she spared me. Other teachers in other assignments were not as forgiving…

In college, I was finally rid of dumb worksheets. But, I found my choice of engineering degree limiting my intellectual promiscuity. The university restricted my ability to enroll in many of the courses and topics I was interested in purely because I was labeled as an engineering student. My solution? To take advantage of the large class sizes and sneak into those classes anyways, taking tests under a pseudonym for fun.

Why am I saying all this?

Because the world around us is changing, but most of our schools are not keeping up.

I am appalled that in a world now so dependent on creativity and creative thinking, most schools are squashing it in favor of cookie cutter graduates. We need “creative types” not only in the arts/marketing/advertising, but in the sciences, in the social efforts, in everything.

I am appalled of the current state of high school requirements:

  • Despite the global penetration of technology (more people have mobile phones than toilets, app-ification of everything, etc.), we haven’t made an intro computer science/programming class a high school requirements

The education system should be nurturing and bringing out everyone’s creativity.

Nurture the creativity of the young. Nurture your own creativity. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, memorization can be replaced with computation power, but creativity – in my opinion – is the very fiber, the very definition, of humanity.

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This entry was posted on February 10, 2014 by in Education, Technology and tagged , , , , , , .
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