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The Number’s Game

Do YOU have Acceptable Numbers?

Jade Hebbert, Staff Writer

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In the modern school system, it often feels like a successful student can only come in one form, and if an individual does not fit into this “box” a student can be convoluted and internally compromised until they become what they are told they have to be in order to achieve academic success. But in a world that is constantly changing and revolutionizing itself, containing students to the boundaries of GPAs and Varsity competitions the system can often force students to live without ever realizing their own capability. If school is supposed to prepare students for the real world, then why is it not growing with the world’s advancements?

One of the biggest factors of public education is standardized testing-everything from the endless STAAR tests to SAT and ACT tests-where students are once again forced to conform themselves to a scantron and the 26 lines available to prove educational worth against the tyrannical, ticking clock. Within this time span, the student is forced to produce all the “knowledge” they gained into fruition on that blank page, hoping that years of work will grant them a superior score, that they will be acceptable in the eyes of the system. A person’s entire intellect is convoluted into a test that restrains creativity and diversity because students aren’t allowed to express themselves. These tests are not even for the benefit of the students but instead for administrators or even profit and effectually force teachers to “teach to test” thus taking away time from learning to make room for test strategy instruction. Furthermore, standardized tests that are created to measure intelligence were not created by geniuses, but instead random people such as Edward Thorndike, who specialized in testing rats with mazes. Albert Einstein was never involved in the creation of standardized testing, but instead he himself ironically failed many of them. Government officials who possess no prior experience in the education field are making decisions that directly affect the school curriculum.

During the tests, as the ever present time is slipping away, I myself often feel the pressure and strain of the stress that emerges from school. But that stress can continue beyond the classroom. Some studies claim that certain amounts of stress can be beneficial for motivation and keeping students diligent, but the fact remains that more and more high school students suffer from serious mental illnesses as a result of the stresses of things like the modernized mechanism of testing. One in five teens are clinically depressed which only adds to the pressure of school as a person begins a transition from youthful dependency to adult life. Anxiety also breaks into the mind where mental breakdowns and tear-soaked pillows and the drowning feeling of being overwhelmed yield a new sense of normalcy.

Many times I, personally, will find myself sitting in a classroom asking myself the simplest question: ‘why?’ Why should I do this and take classes that don’t interest me? Why should I stay up late attempting to study for a test that seem to threaten the course of my future? Why should I try to get endorsements and pack my schedule with classes that I have no desire for in hopes of making my numbers appear more marketable? And why are officials deciding what is “best for the students” without taking into account the student’s’ wishes? But, inevitably high school is the ticket to college. For many students, high scores are needed for acceptance into universities and to earn scholarships. Once more, while applying, one can only hope that their scores were high enough, that their essay was formatted correctly, that their extracurriculars were profound enough, and that their hard work, dedication, and individuality can be revealed through their application. However, many teachers and schools have been taking measures to keep their student’s best interests in mind by creating new curriculums that give teachers the freedom to expand their desired horizons, the horizons beyond the tests.

Life turns into a competition through school and people learn to either lose or win- fail to succeed instead of being able to appropriately express themselves. High School now warrants an act of survival and a game of numbers; it isn’t about the sheer nature of learning anymore. So to the students who spend their nights fighting tears from the stress, attacked by anxiety studying for a test, to the students who barely manage balancing their passions with school, and to the students who live their lives believing that are not smart or intellectual, or don’t have anything to give to this world because they don’t fit into that “box” that they are telling you that you have to fit into, you are important and you will find your place, even if it is outside their “box.” Find your place by taking the opportunity to enjoy school- work as a athletic trainer, earn your cosmetology degree, take advantage of free writing assignments, maybe even publish your writing for the school newspaper, join a club, or learn an instrument. Yes, the education system may seem impractical or unfair, everyone has the opportunity to create their own experiences that can be merited by both success and failure. Everyone has the freedom to make the most of the system. As Mark Twain once said, everyone has the power to “not let schooling interfere with…education.”

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The Number’s Game