By JAKE MOKRIS
Teen Takeover staff
I am a homeschooled student, so I doubt that anyone would be surprised if I said that homeschooling is better than attending public school. But in one point, public schools clearly top homeschooling: the prizes.
Recently, some schools have started to give prizes to students who attain perfect attendance. Ranging from small cash prizes to cars, these awards are supposed to give students an incentive to come to school and do well. But while such prizes certainly motivate students to come to school, the giving of awards only partially addresses schools’ problems.
If American pubic schools suffer from problems, then teachers, principals, finances, and government officials are not the only culprits. Schools will never succeed until the students have the right attitude. The idea of giving students prizes points in the right direction, toward encouraging students to want to learn. But the purpose of education is not to win a prize; education prepares students to become working members of society.
Schools, and more importantly, parents, need to explain to kids that during the years of their education, their job is to learn. Elementary school kids may not be old enough to understand this, but middle school and high school students are.
However, many do not. From what I have seen, teens are often preoccupied with entertainment. Last summer, I attended a pre-college program at Johns Hopkins University. I was amazed to find that almost all of the students in the program procrastinated to an extreme degree. One group of boys was nearly always playing video games. I occasionally played with them, but my video gaming skills were nothing compared to theirs. I wonder how many hours each day they had to spend to become so proficient.
Often, the students talked about music, but when they asked me what music I liked, they were horrified to find that I listen instead to audiotaped philosophy lectures. Of course, not everyone procrastinated; some worked hard and did well in their classes.
Television, music and video games are generally not evil. They are enjoyable in moderation, but they are worthless as an obsession. What good is it to be able to win all the levels in the latest video game, if you fail to graduate from high school?
So along with giving prizes for perfect attendance, schools should teach the students that education is more important than entertainment. Schools must also explain to the students that they need an education to get jobs and to live in society. If the students don’t know that and are not taught to value education over entertainment, then the schools will ultimately fail in their task.
Jake Mokris is a homeschooled student and member of the Teen Takeover staff.