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Kenji Gerhardt

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What is the goal of education?

I am currently a high school student facing a problem and a question has occurred to me as a result. Having always been in advanced math classes, this year is unique in that I have had to drop from the honors level course to the normal level course in order to preserve my grade so I can get into college later. Before bending my pride enough to follow through on this decision, a question popped into my head:

Why do I need to lower the level of my education and reduce my experience in a subject to be more appealing to higher level educational facilities?

I personally feel that the goal of education is just that: education. Grades should just be a stick to measure where more work needs to be done, not where final judgement should be placed. Students like myself should be encouraged to challenge themselves so that they aren't getting everything right, not drop to a level where they can always get the best grade.

Those are my thoughts, anyway. What do you think the goal of education should be and of it's current state in America?


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  • Nov 3 2011: I have to admit that on a regular basis, I use perhaps 10% of the things I learned in my classes at school. For instance, no one has ever quizzed me on the difference between a drupe and a pomme, nor do I think that knowledge will ever spell the difference between something good happening to me and something bad.

    What I did get that was invaluable was an understanding of how American institutions work. To get out of high school with a diploma, you must understand and fulfill an arbitrary set of requirements, including getting to know a wide variety of teachers, understanding what they want from you, and giving it to them. That's the blueprint for every job you will ever have.

    The next level is meshing those requirements with the slightly more complex requirements of getting into a University, and then going through the whole exercise again at the University level where the professors don't even pretend to like you and be your friend the way they did in high school. In order to get out of this system with a diploma, there will be much negotiating, finding and filling out forms, proving to this person or that person that you have fulfilled their needs, etc. All this prepares you for things like proving to an HR department that you are actually a citizen and yes, you already gave them your tax forms.

    If you learn interesting stuff like how to parse sentences, solve complex mathematical equations and put together chemicals that can explode in the process, that's a huge bonus, but not always relevant to the jobs you will get right out of college.

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