Like most nine-year-old kids in Vietnam, I enjoyed playing soccer in the alley where I lived, appreciated watching cartoon programs and movies at night, and loved playing “addictive” online games with my friends. However, what I loved above all was reading. I wanted to read about everything, from Japanese comics, Harry Potter novels to books about world history and sciences. I could’ve spent all day lying on my bed reading a book of my choice or scouting the internet to learn about a topic I liked.
Everything changed, however, as I got into middle school, where students needed to learn what they were told and in the way they were told. Teacher-centered instruction method and rote learning became the norm, and exam scores became the sole determinant of one’s success. Struggling to cope with unengaging lectures and stressful exams, I realized that all those fascinating readings wouldn’t help me to become “successful”. So I gave up every book, every cartoon, and every hangout with my friends to make sure I could keep up with other students. It took me a while, but I eventually accustomed to the culture of the whole education system.
It was not until I prepared for my US college application, when I was asked about my non-academic interests, that I realized all I knew (and cared about) was getting good grades: I no longer read books, rarely cared about news, and hardly inquired about the world around me. And despite having some academic achievements, I possessed too few useful skills — skills that are necessary for one to succeed in life such as critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making, and social skills.
I realized that grades only reflect what we’ve learned (using the method we’re taught to use); impressive grades can’t reflect how I’m prepared for life.
I decided to focus more on learning what interested me and what matters to the world. I started reading again. I took advantage of going to a US liberal arts institution to enroll in all kinds of classes I found fascinating such as biology, politics, history, and philosophy.
However, I also understand how fortunate I am to have access to resources and opportunities I needed to get this far. There are numerous less fortunate people who couldn’t adjust themselves to the system and remained at a disadvantage.https://edsurgeindependent.com/how-can-we-change-the-education-system-as-we-know-5ed6dd7ca9f1