Does School Prepare Kids for “Real” Life?


Each year, a few weeks before school starts, it begins...

The complaints.

Comments such as "OMG! We only have 19 more days off!" and "Do not even talk to me about school supplies-it makes me sick" clog my Facebook page.

But these comments aren't from reluctant students (who, by the way, have completed packets and packets of summer work) but rather teachers!

Are we preparing kids for the "real" world?

As a former middle school teacher (who always worked a second and third job and never took a summer off), it makes me think about traditional education practices and wonder, does school prepare kids for "real" life?

Besides the typical lament that school should be year-round, it is important to realize that the American educational system is based on philosophy, rather than science and facts we know about the developing brain.

For example, it is commonly-known that teenagers' brains go through a blossoming phase and they typically go to sleep later and wake up later. So why do classes start so early for these kids?

Sometimes I see kids waiting at the bus stop at 6:10 a.m., and in the winter darkness! I know they won’t be awake and alert for at least 2-3 more hours. Why not simply flip the elementary school times with the middle/high school times?

Ok, so now the student arrives in school, where he or she is is expected to sit at a desk pretty much all day without talking to other kids. And during a quiz or test, we do not allow collaboration or use of resources. How is that normal in today's world?

When was the last time you had to solve a problem and weren't allowed to ask someone else in the office, use the internet, consult a reference book, or check your notes? So what we’re really testing in school is memory - huh??

Again I wonder, does school prepare kids for “real” life?

Do you play music while you work or move around when you feel restless? If you do in the classroom, the nurse will often send you a behavior checklist to fill out for your pediatrician (that's a whole different topic...).

And as far as creativity, we are creating a generation of passive learners who have learned to answer somebody else's questions but don't really know how to generate their own questions or ideas to explore.

How do we get excited by learning?

So what can we do to help students and teachers get excited by learning, growing, and having fun learning? I've written about some ideas that may help... 1. Give your child permission to fail - Every failure is the seed to success, we all learn from failures. So flip the script on failure and embrace it and show your child it's ok to try and fail. 2. Learn to manage busy and quiet times - Recognize we all go through different phases. Try to get comfortable with down time. 3. Allow your child to take safe risks - Simply provide opportunities that allow learning to occur even if the outcome isn't what we desire.      
Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay
  The Brain Coach Blog is written by executive function coach Mary Turos. Based in Belair, MD, Mary is affectionately known as 'The Brain Coach" for her work helping people achieve harmony using strategies based in neuroscience.

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