Can Students Be Happy And Successful?

Submitted by Izzi Miller on Thu, 10/24/2019 - 11:53 - 0 Comments

There are countless high schools around the world. Each one follows a specific education system. But do they work? This article investigates high schools in three different places around the world, and compares their students’ success. It will look at success through multiple lenses: happiness, income, and status. Diving into how different cultures around education, different economies, and different education systems prepare students for their futures. 

In the U.S., most students are in the public school system. Students learn from a nationwide curriculum that uses textbooks, letter grades, and robotic teaching practices. The system functions similarly to a factory, by having students sit in rows, marking them with numbers, and teaching them discipline and order. However, instead of producing phones, or food, it produces people who can work for the benefit and profit of the economy. 

The private schools are hard to get into, and considered to be elite, while charter schools are considered odd and different. This is because the culture in the U.S. is centered around money, and status. In the eyes of society, success in high school leads to success in college, which leads to a successful career, money, and therefore a successful life. But success doesn’t always mean money. 

Two years ago, Ms Wendel accompanied spanish students on a trip to Cutar, Spain. She went to explore the culture and academics. She explained how the schools they visited were more hands-on, experienced based versus lectures, slideshows, and tests. The students are more motivated and passionate about school because they get to do real work and learn from doing something. They aren’t bored.’’ This idea of experience based learning is something that schools in the U.S. have only begun integrating.It’s a popular concept for charter schools, but not widely practiced in public school system. It seems to work though, the average happiness ranking in Spain is 6.35 according to The Global Economy. This is pretty high especially considering that the reported annual income per capita is the lowest at $12,090 compared to the U.S. at $60,200 and Columbia, at  $14,170. It seems that people in spain might not be as wealthy, but they are rich with happiness. 

In Columbia, the happiness ranking is 6.12. Profe Todd taught in Bogota, Columbia for 14 years, he said that most students went to private schools because “public education is generally pretty terrible, and unfunded”. There are different types of private schools, for different economic classes. If you were in the middle - upper middle class you would attend what Profe Todd described as a “light private school”, and if you were in the upper class you would attend the “elite private schools”. He said that schools in Bogota had more of a community compared to U.S. schools. The culture highly values family, and that was the same in the classroom. He mentioned that there wasn’t as much of a barrier between students and teachers which made it a better space for learning. The lack of happiness is most likely due to the poorly funded public schools, and inaccessibility of jobs, because the economy in Columbia is not that strong. 

Determining which system works the best is difficult. Schools that focus more on economic success, like the U.S. system, drain students of creativity, freedom, and community. However, the happiness ranking in the U.S. is the highest at 6.89. This is most likely because it’s easier to be happy within a strong economy where there is less struggle and uncertainty. In my opinion, elements from each of these systems are necessary for a student to thrive and be both happy and wealthy.