By William Anthony:
The discussion of education will always ignite both debate and controversy, just like religion or politics. I will admit that I could write hundreds of pages about education. I’m also definitely sure that my peers will either agree or fight with me over the most efficient way to educate our society’s youth. Some schools abide by a traditional method where the students take an English course, a science course, a history course, a mathematics course and an elective of choice. My middle school schedule consisted of these mandatory classes. My high school experience was different, but not too much. Of course, I still had to take my mandatory English, foreign language and mathematics classes. Yet, more options were available for not only electives but also science and history courses. This privilege allowed me to explore what was interesting to me. Many children complain about how they will never use what they learn in a high school classroom or even a college level course. This complaint has always frustrated me. Yes, you will never use the Pythagorean theorem outside of the classroom, unless you might want to be a math teacher. You might not need to know what happened in The Great Gatsby to get hired, depending on the job. Life provides many unexpected opportunities to incorporate classroom material toward your personal needs and long-term goals. Then, you will hopefully appreciate everything that you have learned. Thus, you need to be prepared for when all of this education will come in handy. Everyone has a different educational background, depending on the program that they were enrolled in, their academic interests and their study habits. To elaborate more on these conditions, there are three crucial categories that can strengthen a school’s standards: integrity, competition and mentorship.
Integrity does not only apply to the classroom. It is a value that everyone needs to reach his or her goals. This value only gains more significance as students continue their education after college or pursue a career. Integrity is the antithesis to academic dishonesty, which can result in severe consequences. Students must learn at an early age that success requires hours upon hours of hard work. This technique is evident in how much elementary schools stress doing homework on a regular basis. I remember religiously solving math problems or finishing grammar exercises after another day in my third-grade classroom. However, integrity develops from keeping these tedious habits strong and consistent as fewer assignments are given in a high school or college course. Most of these classes have only a few assignments or projects that determine your final grade. This higher expectation gives the student more freedom as to how they read, write or study. Thus, more freedom requires a greater emphasis on integrity instead of students either slacking off from studying or cheating without the benefit of more knowledge. Students must also understand and apply the material themselves without unapproved help. More importantly, they must have the discipline to study regularly without a teacher reminding them that a worksheet or short essay is due the next day. Discipline derives from integrity because it is also essential to succeeding and obtaining more knowledge as students mature. The biggest and most obvious difference between elementary schools and high schools is how the material is taught. High school and college-level courses provide opportunities to apply basic knowledge that anyone with common sense knows. When I was an undergraduate student, I remember having take-home exams for a few of my courses. While reading over the prompt for one of my exams, my professor stressed that everyone must type a single page stating that they did not receive any help from other students. On top of that, I also had to give my signature after typing this statement. This requirement is a solid example of integrity. In the end, no one monitors what you do outside of the classroom or the office, but everyone is expecting you to finish your tasks, or assignments. A student’s expectations can personify integrity because everybody must understand the value of doing your own work. Learning the material yourself is the only way that you can grow as a scholar.
Success is never ever ever handed to you. The most powerful men and women in society suffered just as much as students nowadays who spend hours studying for chemistry or writing a thesis about philosophy. I hope most of them incorporate integrity into their careers and lives. Furthermore, competition motivates the hardest-working students to push themselves beyond what they thought they could accomplish. In order to reach a goal, an incentive must guide students to achieve rewards such as a high GPA, membership of an honors committee, and scholarships. These rewards are unobtainable without competition. Who does not want to be the best? Grades are indicative of how much a student has or has not learned. More significantly, grades also emphasize how instrumental competition can be among students. If competition did not exist, nothing would get done. While sitting in the waiting room for a doctor’s appointment several years ago, I remember reading an article about a high school that was debating about getting rid of the honor roll. The faculty feared that some students would feel left out if they did not make the grades to receive this type of praise. My stomach churned at the thought of a principal and several teachers discussing something as temporarily satisfying as being mentioned on an honor roll. In the end, it’s just a sheet of paper listing several boys and girls who worked hard to earn good grades or who were lucky enough to receive a solid grade that they worked haphazardly for. I also found myself thinking more critically about the value of competition in schools. More incentives only create more competition, but integrity brings true satisfaction to the goals that the hardest-working students achieve. Competition also shows the true motive behind a student’s work ethic. Many students make the mistake of letting a grade define their intelligence. Being competitive with your study habits is absolutely beneficial, but integrity must reinforce how and why students reach their goal. When I was in elementary school, every year my teacher would remind the class that it is the learning counts. As life continues after high school and college, the application of knowledge is the fruit from competition if the student also abides by integrity. If making a certain score is a student’s sole motive, the value of competition diminishes. Achieving only a certain score on an examination is not enough to pass a post-collegiate course. Anyone who has continued their education after college would hopefully agree.
Motivating yourself reflects how much self-discipline a student possesses. Some students have trouble finding the time to study due to lack of interest, laziness or even disorganization. I confess that I procrastinated on a few essays that required more revisions or better organization. At the same time, some students work hard, but they do not know what they are doing. A mentor can guide a student in the right direction. Then, students realize what their strengths are and how they can use it to succeed in their chosen major. A teacher saying that you can do better is all a student needs to hear in order to realize their complete potential. It is never fun to hear someone bluntly tell you to improve. I always remind myself that that the people who care about you are going to tell you the truth, even if you do not want to hear it. Mentors are people who want their students to not only succeed but also learn abundantly along the way. Respect between a professor and a student allows mentorship to have a stronger purpose in academics. Students will want to learn more when a teacher figures out how to connect with them. Respect grows when students realize how much their professors want them to not be afraid of life’s challenges or classroom assignments. This relationship goes beyond how a teacher conducts a classroom. The minor details in a teacher’s profession show how influential mentorship can be. If a professor sets aside time during his or her office hours to discuss a student’s concerns, that meeting can stand out for two reasons. Professors notice how much students care if they have legitimate questions or concerns that are worth their time. Students appreciate the professor who is more than willing to take time out of his or her busy schedule to help them understand classroom material more clearly. However, excellent professors also know when to challenge students to work without their guidance. When I was in college, I remember most of my professors enjoyed reading over a student’s draft for an essay before the deadline, but a few professors of mine refused to read drafts before I turned in my essay. This method frustrated me until I realized that my writing improved once I thought more critically about my research and argument for an essay. If I were a professor, I would love to read a student’s draft before the deadline approaches. I would only read an essay to make sure that my student was not completely lost with the drafting and revising process. Spoon-feeding more ideas to improve a student’s essay should not be the responsibility of a mentor. Instead, professors should offer some help with an essay’s organization or direction pertaining to the student’s argument. True mentors give students freedom with their research in order to figure out how they think, read or write. These boundaries allow students to eventually become mentors for the next generation of potential scholars. Education is a necessity to living in a fast-paced culture. No one should take its worth for granted because integrity, competition and mentorship matter more than ever if people think about how much the education system adapts to help the latest generation. It is only becoming harder to find the ideal job or to get accepted into the ideal school. A student’s motives reflect how much they care about education. If students do not feel like that they are making a difference in society, schools must step up to push them in the right direction.