Philosophy of Learning

What we learn in high school shapes students into well-rounded citizens and proactive learners, but the education system today isn’t structured to teach in the most effective way. Steven Wolk wrote in his essay “Why Go To School?” about the inefficient ways that the curriculum prepares students for life tasks. Wolk suggests that “our schools … use critical and moral inquiry as a way to shape individual identity.” Taking the curriculum away from outdated textbooks that have repeated the same lessons for years, teachers should structure their curriculum to the needs and learning styles of their students. Instead of learning about shapes and angle measurements in geometry, the teachers should structure their math class in a way that students can clearly see the correlation between what they are doing and how that can be applied to their lives.

I often stare at my homework and ask myself, “When will I ever have to use this in my life?” Truthfully, I most likely won’t have to use the majority of what I learn in school during my life. By the time I entered high school I knew my strengths and weaknesses; I liked to write and I loved history, but I wasn’t so good at math. I knew I wasn’t going to become a doctor or a mathematician. The number of hours that I spent struggling through math problems that I forgot by the end of the year is appalling to me. If the school system allowed us to choose our classes based on what we were interested in, students would be so much more prepared for their futures because they would have more experience in what they wanted to go into from a younger age. I’m not saying we should stop having math classes, but the traditional math classes that students take may not be the most beneficial for every student’s future plans. Maybe there could be a class that could be offered for students who might not want to go into a job that requires a lot of math expertise. This class could teach about the economy, the stock market, and how to manage your money as an adult. These classes would still use the critical thinking skills that are used in math, except they would be used in ways that the students could see be relevant to their lives in the future.

Ashley McCall speaks about restructuring the curriculum so that it caters to the needs of each student in her article “What If We Radically Reimagined the New School Year?” McCall advises that teachers should “structure student’s learning around their lived experiences.” If we structure the curriculum about student’s direct experiences, then they would find more connections to the information and become more interested in the content. This could be done by integrating current events into discussions or activities such as the election and the coronavirus pandemic. The curriculum should be structured to the needs and interests of the students to prepare them for life outside high school

6 thoughts on “Philosophy of Learning

  1. Maya Fridman

    I totally agree with your argument and I love the creative solutions that you gave in your writing. Your idea of integrating critical thinking skills used in math classes, but applying it towards other subjects that may be of more use to a student in the long run is very innovative and I wish that students could have the opportunity to take more relevant classes like this one.

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  2. Sofia Thompson

    I totally agree with you on the math thing – there have been so many times where I wondered “when is this ever going to be useful?”. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember that much from almost anything I learned last year because the majority of it is just memorizing and regurgitating. I really enjoyed reading this:)

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  3. Annie Arner

    Alivia, I totally agree with your Philosophy of learning. You have made such a great personal connection between what you have experienced as a student and how that makes you question why you are learning certain curriculum. I relate a lot with your Philosophy and could totally relate to the examples you gave too. Awesome job 🙂

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  4. David Schaeffer

    You make a good argument that many students end up taking classes they won’t end up using in their lives, and I really appreciate that you gave thoughtful suggestions for applying certain “hard” skills to future life courses. I think embracing McCall’s argument that students’ curricula should reflect their life experiences and applying your suggestions to the curriculum at GBN and through the country will make more meaningful, satisfactory educations.

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  5. Chloe de Leon

    Alivia! I love how honest, real, and truthful this was about yourself. You were so honest in relating the text to your own life and I love that you did that. Additionally, I liked that you sort of questioned today’s world’s current curriculum and wondered how it could be shaped so that it would be more accommodated for what the student would really need for success in their lives.

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  6. Ms. Henrich

    You start off by considering the (lack of) usefulness of outdated textbooks and those same repeated lessons – and while I don’t disagree with your assessment and with your argument for making certain classes more applicable to real life, I do wonder about some of those textbooks. Does math get outdated? (I genuinely don’t know!) Does the way that we could apply math need an update? Seems like it, from your blog as well as your comments from others. So is that the case for more than just math? Is it about changing application rather than changing skills?

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