Education offers growth, not just preparation for jobs

Ivan Beck, Features Editor

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John Dewey famously said that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” This concept is one of the founding principles of the Laboratory Schools. However, recent student culture does not reflect this ideal.

Students must change their mindset and consider education a means to personally advance their knowledge and capabilities, not just a chance to build up a résumé.

Throughout my experience in high school, I have met many individuals who take challenging classes, engage in rigorous extracurricular activities and utilize their free time only because they think these activities would look good on a college application. For many, this way of thinking is validated as they or their peers are admitted into colleges that they consider prestigious. However, this outlook is flawed.

When a student’s only motivation for learning is getting into a top college, they lose investment in class material. This causes a lack of true engagement and interest in the material, and students lose out on opportunities to enrich themselves.

Part of this issue lies in the style of learning Lab promotes. The accelerated, race-through courses, paired with the extremely competitive atmosphere that is pervasive among all grades, is extremely detrimental to true learning.

These pressures create a social environment in which students feel obliged to take as many accelerated courses as possible, not necessarily due to interest but for the way that an AT or AP class reads on their college applications. It is impossible for students to truly absorb material with this in mind, because their end goal is society’s definition of success rather than purely personal growth.

Another part of this problem lies in the hands of students. When we race through course after course, we cannot truly develop an understanding of what we want out of life academically and personally.

At U-High, students tend to think that education is the only way anyone obtains their dream job. Many individuals see high school and college as mere stepping stones to get them to the job they want. By doing this, students effectively isolate themselves from the learning process, and from gaining the life experiences that come from these stepping stones.

To honor our school’s founder, we must honor high school, college and other levels of education as more than stepping stones. They are valuable stages of life that much be explored to their fullest, not rushed through in endless pursuit.