Written by: Jennifer Gleason
When I was in the second grade, the quadratic formula, variables and polynomials were the last things on my mind.
That’s what elementary school students are now learning: algebra—a subject that already befuddles many middle and high school students. I can’t imagine being seven years old and having to learn algebra (that might also be because math is not a strong suit of mine).
Like any business model, education changes constantly due to competition and an influx of a variety of knowledge. This is the same knowledge academia tries to expose students to over a relatively short amount of time.
To keep up, educators are expected to update their curricula regularly and usher upcoming students into this new world of knowledge and technologies that even they have a hard time understanding sometimes.
Teaching can be just as much of a learning process for educators as it is for students.
We may have not learned algebra in elementary school, but we were still exposed to it later in our educational careers. So, the system hasn’t failed us, it is just changing to meet the requirements of a new generation of thinkers.
It is true that students learning higher levels of subjects so early on will probably be exposed to even higher levels by the time they reach our ages, but those students will be carrying us when we get older, just as we’re sure to carry our parents’ generation—and in some ways we already are.
Whether or not we can say we understand a subject thoroughly, our teachers did what they could for the amount of time they had with us.
Plenty of VSU freshmen complain about not understanding certain subjects well and the fact that the core curriculum requires us to take classes such as college algebra, foreign languages, biology, geology, etc., regardless of our majors.
“I’m an English major, why do I have to have science credits? I’m not going to use this later!”
The truth is it does not matter what students experienced in their prior education, and it does not matter what students think is useless or not.
Each subject has the potential to expand our minds, and when we’re exposed to those subjects, there’s a chance that one of them may turn into our major or minor. Not everyone comes out of college with the same goals with which they started.
Education is a malleable model that changes case by case.
We, as students, cannot expect teachers to do all of our work or magically implant knowledge into our brains effortlessly. We have to be willing to learn more and have a drive to learn more—especially in the fields we’re trying to pursue as careers.
At the same time, teachers cannot expect students to always know everything they need to know before registering for a class.
Quite often the foundation that primary education was supposed to lay for students isn’t there—either due to learning disabilities or curriculum deficiencies.
It’s our responsibility to take the extra step to learn about things not presented to us and prove to teachers and advisers that they are not wasting their time.
(Taking those extra steps and building those relationships helps us later when we need recommendation letters, too—just putting that out there!)
We are here now, we are adults and it is our chance to take responsibility for our own education.