Friday, September 12, 2008

5 reasons why you shouldn't rely on school to teach you

1. The school's curriculum does not always provide sufficient material

Many times before, I've realised that a lot has been left missing by a few different subjects, and only a basic understanding has been given.

This year, in the computer class that I take, for 2 terms (that's half a year) we were working on this program called Gamemaker. That makes Games of course, and is a great, free, downloadable tool to assist beginners in creating games. The teacher we had at the time took us through the basic functions, and had us create a few of the example games. After some weeks, we had learnt the basic functions of the program and eventually given a piece of assessment.

If I remember correctly, the first piece of assessment was to create a game with a minimum of 4 different rooms. Now I wanted to get more technical so I decided I wanted to create a platform game. Using what we had learnt, the game turned out flawed, had dodgy controls, and I was just about the only person who could beat it. I still got a B.

The computers were down for a few weeks at the next term, but they decided instead of giving us a new topic they would give us another assessment for Gamemaker. This time, we had to create a game with a minimum of 7 rooms based on a movie. Since we had not covered any new material, and this game was a lot more restricted, I ended up creating an even worse game than I had in the first term. I still got a B, probably because we weren't expected to be able to do much better.

One day on the holidays, I got bored so I tried to create a game with Gamemaker. In not much time and a bit of Google searching, I ended up producing a far better game then we had ever created at school. It involved a rolling lemon with enemies to jump on, 45degree inclines, and a properly working system which allows the jumping and gravity to work(rather than being able to jump in mid air, like in previous games). The controls weren't dodgy and it functioned properly. They never bothered to teach us how to do more advanced things with the program.

This term, we have been studying HTML. After learning all the basic functions, we have been given our assessment. Now we must create an online magazine based on whatever we like as long as it contains the few pages that were requested, such as a profile and feature article. At first I thought that would be horrible, we had only learnt basic HTML. I tried to create the layout of the site, and it ended up very dodgy and looking like a complete beginner had made it.

From past experience, I know that instead of relying on what the school has taught us, why not just look it up on Google? I now have used CSS also in the website, for the basic layout. Now I didn't just go and copy a bunch of code and paste it into the notepad file for the layout, I actually wrote it myself. I can tell you now that the layout I created in about a lesson and a half is far better than what I would have struggled with using just the HTML we had learnt.

This all proves, that in this class, the best option is not to rely on the material they give and proves that it is much more effective if you look it up yourself.

2. Not enough sources

The way the school teaches you is not the only way. Unlike in reason 1, they can provide sufficient information, but only in one view. For example, if you read the history textbook given to you for the subject, it will provide you with the information you need... but it is only one source. Generally with history you have research assignments, but you may often be learning by the book, the one source you are given to learn from.

The same goes for maths, you don't need as many sources because it does not have many different views on it, and they are generally all correct. But it can greatly help you understand if you can find it on the Internet explained simply.

So, if you can find more, often more relevant sources it can prove useful. Because they weren't given to you by the school, you aren't relying on the school's resources to teach you.

Sick of reading the science textbook? I find it often best explained on wikipedia.

3. Much of the time in class is wasted

I know I wrote a bit about it before, but it is here again. When you go to a class, a lot of the time you won't learn anything relevant or useful, or you just won't learn anything at all. Often pointless worksheets are given, or the methods used just aren't efficient.

In my health and physical education(HPE) class, for several lessons we watched movies. Sure that's okay, a nice easy lesson, but I didn't really learn anything. Other than that, we copy notes off the projector about illegal drugs and how to avoid drugs(including the basics about confidence and self esteem -- I barely bothered to copy most of it).

This goes back to what I said in a previous blog entry Here where I explained about a non existent program where some students who thought they were too good to attend school normally can just be given the material, study it, complete the assessment then sit the exams and be done for the term in less than 2 weeks. That's 1 year of school in 2 months. That is how inefficiently class time is spent.

4. You don't learn it all at school

This reason isn't just school, it goes on to university.

I am looking at computer game programming. When I leave school after senior, I definitely will not have what I need, I won't have the qualifications, or the skills.

So then I would go to university for that, study Maths and IT. That will get me the qualifications, but from who I've talked to, and from what I know, it won't always get the skills. I don't see a university course teaching all the major programming languages to students. I see that as more of a thing they would expect students to do in their own time. I most likely will learn programming before I go to university anyway, and I am definitely not going to rely on university to teach me the skills I need.

As I've read before, the degree gets you in the door and your skills and experience do the job.

However in saying that, some courses may give you all you need for the job, but like I said from what I know, not this one.

5. School is designed for the majority

The system is not best fit for you, it is best fit for everyone. Top of the class, you are doing well but you can't rely on school to take you much further because the slower people have to catch up. Just like how I wrote about our spelling, a few people in the class struggle with some of those words, and, because it is designed for the majority, I was stuck with them. Actually it was decided that we don't HAVE to do them anymore, but it still stands as a good example of what they tried to give us.

Same in math, you might have worked out the stuff last year and don't want to repeat it with slight more difficulty added to it this year. However again the slower people in the class won't have done it as well and will need it again. I am only getting a B in math, but that is because I don't need to spend the time to get an A until next year.

I personally don't rely on school to teach me. I don't come home with 4 hours and 40 minutes worth of learning(time spent in class). I don't even get 2 hours worth of learning, maybe 1 hour on a one off occasion.

It will be nice when I am finally out of it.


endithinks said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I think that the only way school is valuable is if you dedicate yourself to it.

Also this happened to me when I was a kid, I would go and talk to the teachers and let them know that you don't feel you are getting what you need.

I once had an enlightening conversation with an instructor when I told her that I don't like busy work. She agreed and told me that her hands were tied. Sometimes teachers have to do certain things even if they don't want to.

Alex said...

Yes I realise sometimes teachers need to get things done, and they just give some worksheets to keep the class busy so they can finish what they are doing. But, I don't need to take the busywork home with me.

I don't think some teachers realise it though. I had a conversation with one of my teachers and she denied it being busywork. Sometimes it is "I will not have this argument with you". But yes, a few teachers understand busywork.

Thanks for commenting back I only just realised you had posted.