Archived Story

Not all the school lessons come from books

Published 11:54am Thursday, January 30, 2014

Column: A Happy Medium, by Erin Murtaugh

Here it comes. Yet another column about high school. I’m just feeling a little nostalgic lately since I just had to order my cap and gown for graduation. Next I’ll be planning my graduation open house.

In high school, a lot is taught to students. From reading “Hamlet” to using the Pythagorean theorem, it’s a lot of information to take in in just four short years. I’ve learned a lot and to be honest, I’ve forgotten a lot of it, too.

There are things you learn in high school that don’t come from a textbook or a teacher’s lesson plan. Those things seem to be most important to me. I get the most out of school when teachers share their personal stories or teach us a life lesson that has nothing to do with the subject they teach.

My favorite lesson I’ve heard from a teacher was on taking tests. It came from my precalculus teacher, Mr. Kevin Gentz. He explained to us that there will always be tests we do really well on and tests that don’t go well at all, but we can’t let it get us down.

I used to be really good at taking tests until my classes became more challenging. I think it was around my sophomore year. I would get really discouraged that these scores would define me as a student. Then I had Mr. Gentz my junior year, and he taught us a lesson. I’ve felt much better about myself as a student now, knowing that I shouldn’t define myself by a test score.

Our education system really bothers me. We put kids in a mindset that if they don’t do well in school, they will fail at life.

My friend Carter Dahl said the following a few weeks ago and it really struck me as an eye opener to how much change our education system needs:

“School has just become about coming to a place we dread coming to every day, trying to pass classes that often don’t even have the mildest thing to do with the future careers of most students. All we do is memorize and copy down a lot of pointless information for the simple reward of a grade and not the knowledge of what we just wrote down. Tell me again how this is preparing me for the real world? When I’m busy copying down a page of notes about ancient Greek stories for a teacher who looks at it, gives me a grade and doesn’t even read it isn’t really preparing me for the following four years in college with professors who will be grading efficiently and will read every assignment. Shouldn’t we be taking classes pertaining to the future they say we’re preparing for now? Shouldn’t we come to school looking forward to learning about something we love and are passionate about? I might not be right, but I think something needs to be changed.”

America’s education system seems to be a little crooked to me. I’m only 18, so I wouldn’t have the slightest clue as to where the change needs to come from, but change needs to happen. Students will learn to enjoy coming to school when they are learning about something that they will use in life and are genuinely passionate about. Yes, you’ll always get the kids who could care less about school no matter what, but why not start by giving kids the chance to learn what they love?


Albert Lea resident Erin Murtaugh is a senior at Albert Lea High School.