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Libertyville Sophomore Wants to Bring About Change in Education

Arooj Ahmad feels students spend too much time memorizing and not enough time learning.

Arooj Ahmad is on a mission.

The Libertyville High School sophomore wants to change the education system, which he feels largely forces students to spend too much time memorizing and not enough time actually learning.

While he realizes bringing about meaningful change may be difficult—or even impossible—he says, "I'm ready to try."

Ahmad crafted an initial essay on his feelings, which he posted as a blog right here on Patch. The essay is also set to be published in his school newspaper soon.

"The biggest reason why I wanted to address the problem and tackle it is the fact that I'm currently a student, and I do the work every day. Day in and day out," said Ahmad.

He finds that students spend a lot of time memorizing information for exams and then "it becomes irrelevant after you pass the exam.

"It's not relevant knowledge, and I think that's the biggest problem," said Ahmad.

"I just memorize information, take the test and then forget it. And when it comes back on the final, I memorize it again," said Ahmad.

His criticism is not one against Libertyville High School, where he is enrolled in three Advanced Placement classes, along with many Honors courses. Instead, the problem is a state and national one, he said.

There has to be a change in thinking, Ahmad said.

"A lot of it has to do with stepping away from those current mandates," he said.

Finding a Solution

While he's still working on figuring out what the solution is, Ahmad knows what his vision is.

"You have to remove a lot of the things that make school not enjoyable," like the memorization of material, he said. "Students should want to go to school because they love to learn. It's not just to pass a test and go to college and get a good job."

He hopes to talk to policy-makers about how to bring about the change he envisions.

"Obviously, that doesn't sound practical," Ahmad said of changing the way of thinking when it comes to education. "School should not be about cramming for tests. Obviously, I can't be the only one who believes in it."

What do you think about Ahmad's mission? Tell us in the comments.

Jenness Moss Stock December 13, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Kudos to Arooj! A friend has an 8th grade student who just had to memorize the Gettysburg Address, and now needs to learn FDR's Pearl Harbor Speech for next week. What is the point, really??? It is important to know why these speeches are significant and their historical relevance, but to memorize the entire speech seems silly. I remember memorizing the "Out, out, damn spot" speech by Lady MacBeth my senior year in high school, and while I can STILL recite it to this day, how has it helped me in life? Teach these kids life skills, how to LEARN, and not to just spew information.
Gary December 13, 2012 at 11:12 PM
A computer with a powerful processor and very little memory will be able to work very quickly, but won't be able to do very much. A person with perfectly tuned critical thinking skills but no ability to recall facts, history, and previous experiences would not be able to make the decisions necessary to run a business or anything else for that matter. A good memory is a critical component of intelligence. The good news is that our memory capacity can be increased with practice. The practice we get in school while memorizing multiplication tables and historical facts helps our minds create the framework into which we place other more relevant facts and experiences which help us in our everyday lives. We don't realize it, but it happens. This is the case to be made for memorization in school.
Brian L. December 14, 2012 at 02:00 PM
That's a good point Gary. I never thought of memorizing as brain training. I do agree though that trying to meet more in the middle might be a better thing. On that note, couldn't it be said that by learning more information it would be roughly the same as memorizing? Instead of spending hours/days trying to learn an important speech, spend those hours with research into why that speech was important. I'm sure they do that as well as memorizing it, but you spend half your time making sure you have it right. That time could be spent studying more on Lincoln, King Jr...whatever. If you look at the German school system, they have their children decide a basic direction much earlier than we do. I know it is hard for someone that age to pick their future vocation, but it wouldn't be a bad thing to work in on some level in the sophomore or junior year here. That way you receive more focused knowledge and real world experience. I think you would have people graduate feeling that they have a chance in life without having to spend 30,000+ dollars on extra education I'm not an educator and I've been out of high school now for close to 13 years, but I do remember that High School mostly just pushed me towards finding a college for more education.
Arooj Ahmad December 14, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Excellent point, Brian. I feel as though 90% of high school seniors do not know exactly what major suits them as they have not been exposed to the reality of the fields in their real-world applications. A focused education in a shorter period of time will increase the efficiency at which students are able to work at what they love to do. I know several people that work hard their entire lives just to find themselves in a job that doesn't really appeal to their interests or enhance their true potential.
Kevin December 17, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Teaching someone how to memorize something IS a step in teaching them to learn. One small step along the cognative process, but a step none the less.
easydoesit February 13, 2013 at 05:55 PM
Well then let's teach them how to "memorize" how to balance a checkbook or write a business letter instead of solving a never-will-use-again calculus problem!

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