Spencer A. Michigan

Education Reform And The Brain

The education system is hurting today´s students instead of helping them.

Dear Mr. or Madam President;

Hello and congratulations on the executive office! My name is Spencer Anderson. I’m 15 years old, and I live in Clarkston, Michigan. I am writing to you today to plead for a change in the current education system.

Change must happen because today’s system is hurting our children, and creating mental slaves in our youth, telling kids from a young age exactly what and how to think.

“Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. The following table illustrates the differences between left-brain and right-brain thinking:”

source: http://www.funderstanding.com/brain/right-brain-vs-left-brain/

The left side of the brain is responsible for analysis and logistics. This side is the smart, logical part of the brain, and as reflected in the chart, it focuses on parts. Conversely, the right side of the brain is intuitive and synthesizing. The right side looks at wholes as opposed to parts of an issue/problem. The correct term for left-brain and right-brain is lateralization. In relation to the education system, schools as a whole are forcing children to be left brain dominant.

Left-brain students are the ones who go to Ivy League schools and become lawyers and doctors The education system praises these students who are left-brain dominant. They are rewarded with A’s and B’s and recognition in the academic world. On the contrary, students who are right-brain oriented are left to suffer their way through grade school and college. Right-brain students are the incredible artists and writers, photographers and dancers, actors and singers; however, many right-brain students do not get into to college due to their poor academic status. By favoring left-brain students, the education system is neglecting nearly 29% of Americans who are right-brain dominant, and forcing the 34% of Americans who use both halves of brian to learn to become something they’re not--left-brain dominant.. “The results showed that 37 percent of Americans are left-brained, while only 29 percent are right-brained. In 34 percent of participants, the two hemispheres exert equal influence on decision-making.” -Source

You may ask yourself, so what? Why is it a bad thing if kids are taught to embrace their left brains? Isn’t being smart a good thing? Yes. It is very important for young people to embrace their intelligence and to apply that intelligence. But, it becomes a problem when a generation of students don’t know how to do anything except recite equations, formulas, and definitions.

Why is it important for the system to focus on the right-brain along with the left-brain? Let’s say that someone is being taught how to drive a car. Now imagine that this person gets in the driver's seat and is only taught how to use the accelerator. What's going to happen? If that driver doesn’t eventually learn how to use the brake and the accelerator in unison, then that person will crash and burn--literally. This same concept can be applied to lateralization. If someone is taught only to use the left side of the brain, then that individual is only going to know how to analyze and rationalize. When a person that was only taught to use their left-brains is presented with a simple problem, aside from the formulas learned in school, then they will be truly dumbfounded. Without learning how to use both halves of the brain, students will never embrace their full potential.

So, how can we reform the education system? The United States should take the Finnish education system into consideration. In Finland, students go to school for only four days a week. A Finnish school day starts at 9:00 AM and ends at 2:45 PM. Finnish students don’t receive homework either. Yet Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world.

How do these shortened school days and less homework help students excel?

According to fillingmymap.com, “Students typically start school between 9:00 and 9:45. Actually, Helsinki is thinking of creating a law stating that schools cannot begin before 9:00 because research has consistently proved that adolescents need quality sleep in the morning. The school day usually ends by 2:00 or 2:45. Some days they start earlier and some days they start later. Finnish students’ schedules are always different and changing; however they typically have three to four 75 minute classes a day with several breaks in between. This overall system allows both students and teachers to be well rested and ready to teach/learn.” -fillingmymap.com

It was mentioned above that Finland’s schools start somewhere between 9:00 and 9:45. This later start would benefit older students such as middle schoolers and high schoolers. “As children become teenagers, their sleep-wake cycle shifts two hours later, so it’s difficult, if not impossible, for them to go to sleep before 10:30 p.m.

As a result, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that 59 percent of middle schoolers and 87 percent of high schoolers are getting less than the recommended 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night.

“There’s a price to pay for that,” Owens says. Studies have found that lack of sleep in teenagers increases the risk of traffic accidents, and makes them more vulnerable to depression and obesity. Teens who get more sleep do better academically, with better standardized test scores and better quality of life.” -Source

This statement proves that the American education system is doing more harm than good to higher grade students.

Much more can be said about the Finnish education system, but to be concise, their education system is a polar opposite to ours. And they are beating us.

With all of this said, the current education system must change. It is hurting students rather than helping them. Schools claim to prepare students for the future, but the future won’t require that everyone to know that Y = Mx + B.

Works Cited:





Clarkston Community Schools

Hausauer 2nd Hour

Second hour Honors ELA 10

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