An opinion piece by East Hartford High student reporter

By Monique Atkinson - EHHS Student Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Nov. 8, 2013
Monique Atkinson is a student correspondent from East Hartford High School. Photo by Corey AmEnde.
Monique Atkinson is a student correspondent from East Hartford High School. Photo by Corey AmEnde.

Walking down the hall as a senior at East Hartford High School, I see the same concrete walls and decorated corridors that house my memories of the last four years. Everything, aesthetically, is identical to the day I walked inside for the first time. However, I am constantly reminded that this isn’t the same school I attended as a ninth-grader. I’ve come to realize that, for better or for worse, education at East Hartford High School is not what it was four years ago.

Education at EHHS is changing because the world is changing. The world we live in has become a giant marketplace where anything from technology to dreams is sold to the masses.

Sadly, the world has also evolved to manufacture prototypes of individuals that will, in theory, also be sold to the masses. This evolution of humankind means that schools now have the obligation to educate but also to turn out functioning products to the world. So school systems must shift from the art of education, arguably the most important job that exists, to the business of education. This convoluted system puts data walls and 10 percent summaries above instinctive teaching and differences in learning style.

Though change is an inevitable process, I cannot help but believe that turning over education to figures and data is a disservice to the student body. As a student, I would say that the more educators must rely on the rulings of industry, the more students feel ourselves transmuting into the numbers that now represent us on paper. As the busywork and out-of-the-blue assessments pile up, teachers must back away from teaching the way that they know works.

We are now reaching the time when any given student is viewed as a pass or a fail, a faulty product or a fully-functioning model. When students realize that there are only two options, some will stop working towards the “pass” because why would students please a system that lays down structures meant to benefit us without interest in whether it is helping students or helping the system? Doesn’t that defy the concept that students are the reason for the system’s existence?

I don’t know about any other students, but I don’t want to be a “fully-functioning model” if that means I can only learn through the objectives posted behind my teacher’s head on the board instead of by the words coming out of their mouths and the lessons they are teaching me. I don’t want to be a robot that can only function when I’m put in front of a computer screen or can only identify what I’m doing in class when it’s written word for word in front of my eyes. That isn’t learning, that is computing. We are not computers.

Over the past four years, I have watched my teachers get caught in a wave between being able to teach their students and having to bend to the will of the business that education has become. I’ve had to listen to those who have taught me everything I know be devalued as inadequate educators because they fail to meet expectations of numbers on paper as opposed to those of their living, breathing students. The teachers I have encountered at East Hartford High School gave me an education that would rival any other. If I were able to have that education over again, I would remove all the yellow tape and throw away the minutia that has surrounded education as a company to conquer.

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series of articles to be written by student correspondent Monique Atkinson, a senior at East Hartford High School. She will be a regular contributor to the ReminderNews, with her next piece scheduled to run in December.

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