An English education major at Miami University in Ohio just posted an Open Letter to the American Education System on YouTube and it’s definitely going to make some people uncomfortable. Sammy, an Ohio native, wrote on her “Sincerely, Sammy” blog this week, “A few weeks ago in class, I started thinking about all the things that annoy me about the American school system. As it turns out, there’s a lot.”
Sammy (who asked us not to disclose her last name) told PJ Parenting in an email, “I’ve wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.” She explained that while she’s been warned about the bad salaries and being underappreciated as a teacher, more recently she’s been told that she’ll have to deal with many new changes in education that she probably won’t agree with. “In my classes, we’re learning more and more about things like Common Core and we’re evaluating our own past education, which really got me thinking–a lot. So I attempted to organize these thoughts and made a video,” she said.
In the video, Sammy criticized the overemphasis on grades and testing. “We all get it. We were all raised thinking that validation of a job well done is a necessity. That you have to get a gold star, or an A, or 100% to know that you’ve got it.” But she argues it’s destructive to teach students that perfection is the only acceptable standard.
Instead, she says students should strive for something new and different. “That is what’s going to separate us in the real world,” she said. Citing “thinkers and dreamers and innovators and problem solvers” like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg, she asks, “Aren’t we taught from a young age that it’s good to be different? So why are we spending years trying to excel at standardized tests instead of pushing ourselves to expand our minds and think outside the box?”
She had some harsh words for the Common Core standards and the associated testing. “I grew up with the delusional belief that perfection is achievable.” Students are counting on teachers to help them excel at standardized tests that are supposed to prepare them “for college and life,” she said, but forcing teachers to rush through the curriculum and adding more tests will not accomplish that. “And all I’m saying is that there’s got to be a better way because–newsflash–teachers hate Common Core.”
She asked why “academic and achievement experts” rather than teachers were on the committees that created and made decisions about Common Core. She wondered why they’re not getting a say now, suggesting it’s because they would poke holes in what she called an “idealistic plan.” Sammy warned, “Don’t go over the heads of the people who know best just so you can try your little experiment.”
She said she’s grateful for the education she received and that she’s able to attend college–even though she doesn’t understand why it has to cost so much–but added, “Let’s stop trying to compete with China and just focus on ourselves and how we can try to help our students. How to give them the tools that will help them evolve into creative, productive, curious, happy citizens–and even more, human beings.”
She told PJ Parenting, “Like I said in the open letter, I’m 19 and not claiming to have all–or any–of the answers. But I wanted to share this letter because I think it’s important to at least start the conversation.”