Knee-Jerk Rant On Education in America

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Alright, it’s time for me to pull this ratty old thing out of the closet, dust it off a bit, and step onto it. Yes, my pedestal.

In this week’s newsweek, there’s an article entitled “How To Build a Better High School” which starts out with an anecdote about a student who transfers to the number 1 school in the nation (according to Newsweek). To demonstrate the rigor and difficulty of this school, the article highlights that the first assignment for in this student’s AP European History class is to…

…memorize the map of Europe and be able to draw every country, along with 10 captials, 10 rivers and 10 bodies of water.

My goodness what a brain teaser! Can anyone say “busy work”? Is this what passes for great education today? I can just see this student twenty years from now as a diplomat or foreign policy analyst.

Well sir, before we head into this meeting, do you understand the historical context surrounding the animosity between these two nations and how their cultural differences have stoked this hatred?

Hmm... Not really, but I can draw you a pretty map with turquoise rivers.

Now in all fairness, I'm sure they will cover meatier subjects, but is this rote memorization necessary? Is it preparing them to be thinkers and leaders of the future? Rather than relying on rote memorization, involve them in a discussion about the history, culture and politics of these countries and point it out on a map as you do so. They’ll figure out where these countries are located.

Rote memorization has its place (like sports statistics), but by highschool it should be at a minimum. Ok, rant over. I have to go memorize some HTML entity codes.

[Listening to: Just Be - Tiësto - Just Be (8:46)]

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