The Amount Time Spent in School and How It Needs to Change
Nathanial Bui, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s3d3

In the American school system, students can go through 17 years of schooling. There is kindergarten, grades 1 through 12, and most commonly four years in college or university. Sometimes students go through more years in college depending on what they plan on becoming. For example, someone striving to become a Doctor can meet up to possibly 11 additional years of learning. Some children will also be put through pre-school before reaching kindergarten, and others may have to attend summer classes. This does not even include hours spent in sports or clubs. Needless to say, students can put a lot of time into school.

However, in an ironic twist, one of the biggest issues in the education system is not the abundance of time in school, but rather the lack of time these students have to learn what they actually need to know. Personally, I’ve always had to stay after normal school periods for hours at a time to work on and finish projects I could not do at home, whether it be because I do not understand the material or not have the proper resources to do so. With all the time and opportunities set forth for people to utilize, many would believe that there is too much school as it is, but the truth is that it is still not enough for everyone. Students can still find themselves confused and short on time for getting assistance from the teachers. Students are occasionally limited when it comes to using helpful sources provided by the school. Students may be flooded with so much schoolwork that they find themselves focusing too much on mindless and uninspiring filler rather than finding their career path. It may feel like school already takes too much time out of people’s lives, but perhaps giving more time to relax the student’s toil or prioritizing what help is available would make the extra time spent at school worth it. By increasing the amount of time school resources are available, it can ease the workload as well as open up new and accessible opportunities for students to explore.

A big problem with some classes is that students are unable to get all the help they need. Sometimes classes have 10 students for every teacher, sometimes classes have upward of 30. There is simply not enough time for everyone to receive the help they need individually. The teacher has too much to manage and cannot keep up with the student’s separate questions. This is especially prominent with subjects requiring math and writing. For middle and high school, the students have 6 or 7 different teachers and classes to consult with and not enough time to focus on a single one. Just like with the teachers having too many students to work with, the student may have too many questions for all the different teachers to get them all resolved. To counter this, two things need to be addressed. First, there needs to either be more time available during classes. Second, the material being taught needs to be optimized so only the most important lessons are being taught. What the students learn needs to prioritized so no time is wasted on unnecessary or overly complicated ideas and more time is put into focusing on the important highlights and concepts. By shifting attention to only what is needed and providing more time for the teacher to work with the students, the time spent at school will be much more well spent and make a considerably bigger difference in the student’s education.

While the instructor is usually the biggest and most important resource available at school, there are other tools and supplies that are open for students to utilize. There are libraries for readers to find stories and explore different adventures and stories. There are art supplies for creators and crafters to make. There are computers for researchers and tech workers to experiment with. However, these resources can be limited due to their physical availability. Libraries are mostly open during small moments throughout the school day and rarely on weekends. Schools often restrict usage to certain art supplies or do not allow work on art projects outside of art-based classes or clubs. Computer labs are usually off limits entirely and only usable when specifically reserved by a class. These important tools and services need to be more accessible to the students that need or want to use them. If there were more supervisors and advisors for these departments, they could not only provide more supplies or materials, but also teachers to help guide the students through those tools. It would be similar to increasing more time with teachers during normal class hours, but it would also apply to supplies that are often harder to access.

The last thing students need more time for, while sounding opposite of the overall argument, is actually non-academic work. This kind of sounds like it goes against everything that was previously said, but school should be a place to learn everything, not just “solely academic” subjects like math, reading, or science. There should be more time free to learning and exploring other interests in life that are not all about evaluating sentences or calculating complicated formulas. Students are always bogged down by all the required courses they need to take in high school when they would rather be taking more classes that fit their interests. A teen who shows interests in coding may be limited to a small amount of computer electives or classes they can take during high school. An artist who wants to learn more about painting may instead be occupied by overly complicated math classes. There needs to be more classes, resources, and time set aside for these exploratory electives that may branch out career choices for students. Schools should not be overloading on just reading or math, because many may not have careers in those departments. Maybe add more diversity in the courses available, so that it can apply to a broader range of interests and possible occupations, and through that, help students save and invest more time in the career that they will pursue.

Many would argue that high school is not for exploring interests and that college is the time for that type of searching, but the problem with that is the price of college. There should be a cheaper and free way for people to explore and learn, and that way should be through the regular school system available currently. Sometimes students need a lot of time for experimenting before finding what careers interests them, something that college offers only at a big cost. Loans and debt are a big hassle for students when in university when their main focus should be entirely on studies, but if they do not know what they want to study, they must spend extra time and money on classes they do not need or studies they find unfitting. To avoid this unnecessary waste of time and finances, the discovery stage of their education should take place in a more relaxed and free environment, in this case, high school. It can be a home for more free, open electives and exploratory classes. There should be no worries about money or investment, but rather concentration on finding what students enjoy or wish to learn and further their career.

Students always dread when it is time for school, but perhaps “time for school” needs a new definition. Learning in school should have more focus on what is worth learning; the kind of knowledge taught should capture a student’s interests and bring them into the future with a goal. There needs to be more time with the teachers, more time with the resources, and more time for finding one’s career paths. Hopefully these improvements can be made to create a much better education experience for everyone, but only time will tell.
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