Even with the rise of charter schools and private schools, this question still remains, “Have schools evolved much?” I am not referring to how the school is operated because that has changed with different school models. I am thinking about the structure and makeup of schools. There is so much conversation about how and where students learn, but in reality, the physical structure of schools has not changed in most places around our country.
Today in schools, especially in middle school and above, students have the internet in the palms of their hands. The internet is the one thing in school that sees no socioeconomics or race. Students from all backgrounds carry the world on their mobile devices. Instead of personal devices that can access the internet as a resource, many schools outlaw the use of phones in schools. Schools continue to use the same outdated computer lab space. Over the years, school computer labs have improved with some upgrade in devices, but how much more impactful would it be to allow the students to use their already portable devices? Phones in schools are like pencils, but instead, we outlaw them instead of embracing them and changing the way we allow students to use them.
Breakfast and lunch in every school should be free. There is too much research available that says school breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and schools should do better than just offering the space for breakfast; they should provide breakfast as well. Many students, especially in low-income areas, do not have breakfast at home, so breakfast at school for free would go a long way in ensuring they are ready for the academic school day. School lunch is another important aspect of the learning day. Students must eat lunch. You can go to many schools across the country and see how students are miserable in the lunchroom because they did not have enough money to eat, so either they have to starve or be subjected to peanut butter sandwich and milk.
Students also need to have the arts just as much as they need reading and math. When budgets are completed and cuts need to be made, the first place many schools go to is arts. Whether that is art class or the fine arts such as music, they are the ones that are cut first. When you cut arts, you strip away an opportunity for students who may not perform well in the academic classes to have an outlet. Just like sports, the arts is an escape for some students. The arts are also motivation for some kids to even come to school. I learned in my years of teaching that not every student can be in AP classes or play a sport. There must be opportunities for students to feel connected.
School restrooms must evolve. First of all, the restroom is often time the most dangerous places in a school. Due to privacy reasons, the restroom is the place with the least amount of supervision. The restroom is where incidents like fights can occur and bullying often takes place. What if schools went away from the large restroom idea and adopted multiple individual restrooms around the building? There are places around the country where this is happening. There are schools in other countries where they utilize single restrooms.
I believe the number one thing that must change is this lack of fun. Learning can be and must be fun. You know why students are more engaged in video games…because they are fun. There is a level of excitement in video games, which is why when students play games, they do not mind making mistakes or losing, or even playing the game on the most challenging levels. They do not mind because they have fun doing them. This allows them to persevere through the difficulties of them. Imagine if students viewed school as fun they teachers would not have to motivate them to learn because students would be self-motivated. How much better in school would students perform if they viewed school as fun.
If we want to drastically change the education system in this country and help students learn, then schools must continue to evolve.