Upon considering what to write my blog about today, I decided to search YouTube for something humorous regarding education. The first video was titled Problems with Education so I decided to just go with that one. The video featured Father Guido Sarducchi, who was a character on early Saturday Night Live skits. (For another good laugh, check out the people in the audience.) What Sarducchi basically says is that the educational system in America is flawed because it only teaches students to memorize information in order to pass tests and the very little of the information is actually retained. So he purposes a “five minute university” where students learn only the few basic things they will retain anyways; like economics is supply and demand. For only twenty dollars you can skip all the hundreds of wasted hours learning information you’re going to forget anyways and you even get a snack! What a deal! While the routine is pretty funny, it’s also a little sad because it points out real problems in education.
Although this video is a little dated, I think that the problems it satirizes are still relevant. The economics thing really made me laugh. I took an economics class in high school and did very well on the exams. My teacher even suggested that I look into a career in economics. But now, just three years later, all I could really tell you about economics is that there a lot of John Stossil programs about it and it has something to do with supply and demand. (Well played Sarducci, supply and demand really is all anyone knows about economics.) Point proven, even though I did very well in the class, it doesn’t mean anything because I don’t know anything about it now. I spent a lot of time learning information that I didn’t retain. It kind of seems like a lot of wasted time, doesn’t it?
As a college student, I have used this knowledge to my benefit. I’m taking a chemistry course this semester and I have figured out that going to class everyday is a big waste of time. On the review day, the professor gives a list of information we need to know for the exam, so I just go that day and learn all the important information in an hour rather than spending the twelve hours of regular class time learning unimportant information. It’s kinda like a version of the five minute university, only it’s the one hour chemistry course. And yeah, I’ve gotten A’s on all the exams. I shouldn’t be able to do that. The education system should allow that to be possible. When I am a teacher, I hope to change this notion that students don’t retain information and that education is a waste of time. I think it’s important to make sure that students actually understand the material you are presenting them with and that they are not just memorizing information to pass a test. In an English classroom specifically, I think that it is important to teach students skills over specific facts. I think it’s more important to teach kids to read critically than to memorize character names.