Cuong Huynh / AFH Photo
For many students like myself, being able to experience deep learning is the best way to acquire valuable knowledge.
Two years ago, for example, I took a chemistry class. I felt invested while studying about relevant issues like global warming. I remember how much excitement I had when I went to the teacher and talked about ways to stop the global warming onslaught. I even attempted to do recycling at my house.
However, this topic only lasted a few weeks and then we moved on. I was not sure what to do anymore with what I learned because it was no longer mentioned during class. I stopped recycling at home.
After noticing this pattern of teaching, many students do not want to invest too much mental energy knowing that certain subject matter will soon disappear.
In fact, a 2006 report commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” found that nearly half of those surveyed said a major reason they left school was because their classes were boring.
Teaching can be superficial if it is not brought into the real world. It is important to address the issue of providing a pertinent, student-centered curriculum to all students or achievement will be stunted.
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AFH Photo Janna Mach
I grew up in Jordan as an immigrant from Iraq. The first day I entered my high school classroom I was shocked -- food was everywhere on the floor, there were broken desks and tables, and kids were throwing papers at each other. The teacher just sat on his desk holding a cigar and drinking coffee and hitting anyone who was late or forgot homework.
I was often late because I couldn’t afford the money for a bus, so I had to walk. That was when my suffering began.
In Amman, Jordan, education mostly happened on the streets. I needed to support my family. I continued to wake up at 6 am, but then skipped school to work illegally as a trash picker. It was a disgusting job, but it paid me good money.
I walked from corner to corner to collect what could be sold, like metal or furniture, and then I would throw it in a truck. After six hours of sweating under the sun, we arrived at the storage facility, where we emptied the truck and were paid the equivalent of $15.
At the end of the day, I walked to the river so I could wash the smell off me.
Today, instead of running to gather garbage, I run from class to class to pursue my education. I wake up at 6 am excited for the opportunity to attend a school where teachers care about you and work hard because they want to see you succeed.
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Kiara Maher / AFH Photo
Isabella Carrasco, a sophomore at Boston Latin School, was one of more than 1,000 Boston Public Schools students who recently marched outside the State House to protest massive proposed budget cuts.
As a multitude of BPS students walked out of classes that March day, with many attending the rally, Carrasco says she knew she took a risk but felt the issue was too important to ignore.
“At first I was afraid to even go,” says Carrasco, “but then I decided there needs to be something done.”
The action was followed by this opening paragraph of a Boston Globe story: “Days after thousands of students walked out to protest budget cuts, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Thursday that he plans to announce that Boston high schools will be spared the controversial reductions that endangered popular programs and teacher jobs.”
No matter how the details of the budget process shake out, students say they came to realize the power of protest.
“I feel very good because not only did I help myself and my school but I also helped other people and other schools,” says Brianna Ducharme, a sophomore at Boston Latin Academy.
After all, teens say, it’s not only adults who are invested in the future of BPS.
“I feel like the walkout was a chance for students to actually show how much they care for their education,” says Nick Barbosa, a sophomore at BLA.
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AFH photo by Rayshana Jenkins
While I was applying to colleges, I asked myself whether that should really be my next step. One of my worries included the price tag. Not being able to afford outrageously high tuitions is a major reason that many students don’t attend or defer college.
“Up to 40 percent of low-income students who are accepted into college in the spring never make it to the first day of class in the fall,” according to an August 2015 article in the The Hechinger Report. “They’re stymied by tuition sticker shock, Kafkaesque paper requirements and a quiet, corrosive feeling that they don’t belong.”
Despite these obstacles, many parents and school officials continue to push students down the university path at all costs even when there are professional and trade alternatives to success.
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Janna Mach / AFH Photo
If you go to graduation ceremonies at many colleges, the number of minority students you may see is low compared to others.
The statistics back this up.
According to a January article on washingtonpost.com: “Nearly one-third of students entering two- or four-year colleges in the United States each year are first- generation. These students are also more likely to be minorities, and they are far less likely to graduate: In six years, 40 percent of rst-generation students will have earned
a bachelor’s or associate’s degree or a certificate, vs. 55 percent of their peers
whose parents attended college.” Minorities often are the first in their family
to go to college, and for many of them, English is not their first language.
When these students attend college, they are often exposed to a different culture than what they are used to.
At home, talking about college may not be a regular thing.
At school, the focus is many times on getting today’s assignments done, not about tomorrow’s plans.
Getting into college is a great accomplishment, but the work doesn’t end there.
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