Why Your IQ Does not Define You
In a prestigious New York City private school, it is often difficult to decide whether being book smart, an ability to excel in academic environments, or street smart, an ability to excel in social settings, is more beneficial for our futures. While it often seems more useful to spend our time at school learning about paying bills and doing dishes, things that we will inevitably come face to face with at some point in life, we spend our time learning the fundamentals of a textbook education: math, science, English, and history. Do these topics actually stay with you as you grow up, helping you in professions and career paths, or do you forget the studies you have devoted so much time to in your first year out of college? Is it worth spending our entire adolescent lives stressing over things we may never follow up on?
Especially in the United States, where the norm is to invest yourself in conventional subjects, students are restricted to a fairly standard curriculum. Though the curriculum at Packer is not as uncompromising as the Advanced Placement (AP) program, there is still an intense pressure to study mercilessly for tests such as the SAT or ACT which seem to depend more on strategy and test-taking technique than general intelligence.
In comparison to practices in the United States, the expectation in Swedish educational environments is that individuals choose their career paths early and focus on perfecting that skill for the rest of their school years. While it is difficult to determine the more effective system, as Sweden’s system requires students to set themselves on a career path at a very young age, there is definitely something to be said about all of the American adults who discuss how useless their high school education was for the career path they ended up pursuing.
At Packer, we pat ourselves on the back for having such a contemporary education environment, but even here it is shocking when a creative project is assigned, hence all of them fitting into the English Quad. If we choose to acknowledge that there are many different types of learners at our school, we are left with a question: Which types of intelligence are prioritized here? While some students are more analytically minded, and thrive under the number of essays and tests we are assigned, there is definitely a clear disadvantage to those who succeed creatively, as participation counts for a mere 15% of most class grades. Classwide discussions are when a student’s opinions are displayed, and people often become invested in the class’s topic, showing true interest in the subject or larger question at hand. However, as essays and tests count for almost 50% of a grade in some classes, it is clear that a more narrow, rubric-style type of intelligence is prioritized here, occasionally neglecting the individuality and opinions of our students.
Growing up in an age of technology, travel, and social media, it is hard to believe that preparing for college, studying the same subjects that our parents did, and fitting our work into confining rubrics, is the most effective way to spend our four very short years of high school. While a conventional education doubtlessly has its advantages, it is definitely not the most, or the only, effective way to learn about the surrounding world and most relevant aspects of our developed society. I think that as our culture advances, the education system has to change as well. In an environment where we as students are encouraged to embrace our individuality, it does not make sense that our participation and personal reflection in a class should only count for 15% of our grade, and it definitely doesn’t make sense that book smarts are prioritized over creativity, especially at a progressive school such as Packer.
As students, it is arguably our job to take our education into our own hands and make the most out of the years we have leading up to adult life. Given the power Packer has over its curriculum, why not spend our time engaging in challenging electives on obscure topics that will allow us to exercise our minds while perfecting skills that will prove beneficial in the long term. We have the responsibility of making our education the most worthwhile it can be, and that does not include complying to the antiquated routine of the standard American education.