The ‘ABC’s…

The ‘ABC’s’ of school

By Amy Mittinger

mittinger.1@osu.edu

Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 21:05

Welcome to Spring Quarter in great O-H-I-O. Did you enjoy another rousing year of meaningless memorization?If you’ve forgotten history dates or science terms from lectures already, here’s an idea: Just Google it.Whether we forget a fact in two days or two years, we can refresh our minds with the click of a button — assuming we need the information anyway.

There is a bigger task at hand now. We must get involved with our community and loved ones — and more importantly, find a job. I worked my first full-time job last summer, and just in the nick of time. I needed a wake-up call before I graduate this spring. And boy, did I get one.

I was a secretary at a nursing facility in my hometown. I was bombarded with questions about medical records and codes of conduct in the business setting, among others. I was initially stunned by my ignorance to issues that others face daily.

Thankfully, my knowledge did improve while working. But it’s still not up to par.

Why, you ask? Because I’ve fallen behind after jumping through hoops in high school and college, which diverted me from a true education.

I did achieve my full potential throughout elementary and middle school. I have smart, compassionate teachers to thank for learning essential components of each core subject.

From grammar rules to basic math functions, both during and after school hours, each teacher made his or her mark — so much that I keep in touch with most of them today, and it’s clear that their passion for learning hasn’t dwindled.

But the downturn began in high school, and it’s taken a nosedive in college. I’ve lost track of the amount of hours I’ve heard educators rant about high school test scores (OGT), college entrance exams (ACT/SAT) and core class requirements (GEC).

By now, I’m lucky if I remember every teacher and counselor’s name, let alone what they claim to have taught us students.

I have attended two high schools and three colleges, so I’ve probably undergone this routine more than the typical student. Then again, I know from experience that these useless “ABC’s” dominate the school system.

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OGT: The Ohio Graduation Test was implemented in 2005 in Ohio to test students’ proficiency in five core subjects during their sophomore year of high school. If students did not pass every subject the first time, they could retake the needed section(s) until their senior year. They must pass all five subjects in order to receive their diploma, and would be “held back” until this was achieved.  A reform bill was passed in 2009 by the Ohio legislature to eliminate this test and assess students differently, but will take several years to take effect.

ACT/SAT: These two college entrance exams still prevail as determinants of students’ intelligence, and placement into college.

GPA: This one number plays a role in admission into a specific college major, and sometimes the whole college.

GEC: The General Education Curriculum is a set of courses outside a student’s major in college, designed to expose them to a variety of different topics. GEC requirements are slightly different among majors, and especially among OSU’s colleges. So students who change their majors find that they wasted time taking GEC classes that no longer pertain to their major, while new GECs are added to the list.

—————

Of course certain benchmarks are needed to measure students’ intelligence. Yet they consume educators’ minds about their salaries and reputations, more than students’ minds about their own success.

What happened to helping students become informed citizens during high school, or begin the fast track to a career in college? Instead, they are left arguing with admissions counselors about entry-level requirements, and with professors about test scores — the dispute of which will go down the tube when they finally land a career.

For me, most of this has gone down the tube already. But whether I forget lecture material in two days, or my classmate forgets it in two years, it’s only a matter of time before we all erase the pointless ABC’s of school from our memories.

I know plenty of my classmates share my frustration, and have suffered worse consequences than me. Some will begin a fifth year in college after failing and repeating classes designed for Einstein. Others have been blatantly denied admission to the major of their dreams.

I hope to make a mark on society, more than the high school OGT and ACT/SATs, and college GEC’s, and even GPA’s, have made a mark on me. But for now, I’ll focus my positive attention on graduating this spring — one year earlier than the rest of my high school classmates of ’08, or fellow ’08 graduates I’ve met here. No fault of my classmates, clearly.

But to the educators, not so fast. This isn’t the first time I’ve ranted about the poor education system, and it may not be the last. So pardon me for being sour, but it’s about time this phrase comes back to you, because for once, it’s you who failed.

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