I Know why the Caged Bird cannot Read”: Revolutionizing Education

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Updated: Aug 11, 2023
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Learning is the art of acquiring new skills. Learning is adaptive. Learning is limitless. Today the educational structure is lacking, and igniting a passion for learning has become extremely challenging. In a society where technology has taken over, why haven’t we created a foolproof innovative solution to this growing epidemic? In order to best structure and promote education would be to give students a variety of options in selecting a method of learning which works best for them.

Adaptive Learning and its Importance

Have you ever sat in a classroom lecture, a split second passes, and you are lost among the loads of information? This scenario is very common in classrooms ranging from elementary school to college classes.

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As a student myself, I, along with my peers, have experienced this firsthand. This often creates a sense of defeat and learned helplessness. The psychological theory of learned helplessness is not attempting to get out of a negative situation because of previous experiences. In this case, the negative experiences in the classroom would cause the student to lose motivation and continue through this unhealthy cycle. According to Barbara Oakley, educational writer and engineer, human brains have evolved with a flitting, fleeting ability to maintain focus on any one thing, so it shouldn’t surprise us that humans were not meant to sit boxed up for prolonged periods of time.” Proving the methods we are drilling in our educational system today may not work for everyone. It’s not a matter of lack of interest or motivation; it’s a biological barrier.

Today we have resources like no other, especially resources such as online classes students are able to go above and beyond with their classwork. Yet schools look down upon these methods due to their list of cons and don’t acknowledge the value of their pros. According to Oakley, Online courses allow us to scale up opportunities as well as be artistically and technically fascinating and can have terrific pedagogical advantages in STEM fields where difficult explanations often cry out for a student to replay a portion of a lecture or simply take a pause for comprehension.” Online classes are a learning method that allows students to learn and comprehend material at their own pace. With learning extended from the usual fifty-minute lectures, online classes will allow students to research curiosity or thoughts they’ve developed through full comprehension. If online resources and in-class activities are paired together, the student will be able to see, through experience, what works best for their brain and choose what will have long-term benefits for them. According to The Room 241 team, “Possible uses of classroom technology include using video games to teach math and foreign languages, leveraging Skype to communicate with classrooms or guest speakers from around the world, or projects that allow students to explore subject matter using audio and film.” As a high school student and consistent teacher assistant, it is clear that these sound like interactive, exciting ways to add fun to education. With both technology and in-class techniques, a day in school will soon be perceived as an exciting adventure and not a forced activity that applies to all age groups. As an aspiring physician, I would love to play a good game of “Identify that Neurotransmitter” in medical school.

The Biological Barrier and Cognitive Engagement

It is no surprise that some pick up on materials faster than others. Students must spend more time on their weaker subjects. One’s strength will be another’s weakness. In simpler terms, a bodybuilder creates a customized routine that targets their weak points and continues to strengthen their strong points. Every bodybuilder does not follow the same workout routine as one another. So how is one expected to learn like everyone else? How is strengthening the brain any different? According to David Sedaris, “ Understanding doesn’t mean that you can suddenly speak the language, far from it; it’s a small step, nothing more, yet its rewards are intoxicating and deceptive.” In this article, learning seems impossible to the main character because of the lack of support and different baseline knowledge of French. This quote continues to prove that an individual learns at their own pace and will continue to thrive when the curriculum is customized to their needs. I’m not implying that every teacher must create a lesson plan based on each individual’s needs. I’m implying that if students are given multiple online classes and tutoring resources, they will have all they need to succeed. Why must we put one of these methods above the other? Forcing students to learn the same way is not logical. In the real world, we use hands-on learning, observations, and online resources to gather our thoughts and create conclusions.

Teachers are a factor that we must take into account when discussing success and different methods to get there. Throughout all levels of education, not all teachers will go the extra mile to ensure that their students are fully understanding the material. Although some recognize teaching as their passion, others are unreliable. How will we promote learning if some of the teachers are not willing to change their methods of instructing and appropriately challenge students? Is strengthening the educational system possible if there is little consistency among teachers? Written by Francine Prose, the article “I know why the Caged Bird Cannot Read” explains how teaching methods are deteriorating and how appreciating literature and learning is lacking? According to Prose, “Rather than exposing students to works of literature that expand their capacities and vocabularies, sharpen their comprehension, and deepen the level at which they think and feel, we either offer them easy books than anyone can understand, or we serve up the tougher works predigested.” If those who mold the minds of the youth are not willing to invest the effort, we must offer different solutions. As a student myself, If given the tools, I would take my education into my own hands. Not only does this method have many self-disciplinary benefits, but it also teaches a student accountability. Now the student is also accountable for how much effort they put into their work. Students who attend schools with different teaching values will have the ability to thrive and feed their determination with knowledge.

Teacher Variability and the Role of Adaptive Learning

With all the discussion on the benefits, there a sure to be some suspicions and concerns. How is a student supposed to develop complex thinking skills when collaboration tools are inaccessible online? How will one be disciplined enough to consistently use their online classroom and resources? Will online classes result in new accomplishments, or will laziness take over? Many would say that an in-class setting would be the best for students to learn rather than the alternative. Although these are valid concerns, they lack key points. If laziness is a problem, then a student is more than welcome to attend lectures and have that classroom experience. It may also act as a good way to develop the self-discipline that is required in the real world. As humans, we are not invincible. Meaning a sudden illness or inconvenience may get in the way of our studies. From personal experience, a “day off” from school can push you into a circling black hole that seems nearly impossible to escape. Online lectures, assignments, and activities will allow students to perform their best even when they may not feel the best. In terms of collaboration, an online portal will allow a student to network and ask questions to students from all over the world. And if this is not the best option for a particular student, they can use the alternative of in-class student collaboration. The key trend is that all the cons are counteracted with both methods on the table. The student’s ability to choose one or to incorporate both for the ultimate learning experience is what makes this unique and effective.

As humans, we are not invincible. Meaning a sudden illness or inconvenience may get in the way of our studies. From personal experience, a “day off” from school can push you into a circling black hole that seems nearly impossible to escape. Online lectures, assignments, and activities will allow students to perform their best even when they may not feel the best.


With the unreliability of teachers, different paces of learning, different baseline knowledge, and the human’s biologically proven short attention span, it is reasonable to conclude that the best way to promote learning and our educational system would be to have multiple methods of learning and study available to all students. This will eventually help them learn what works best for them through trial and error. Along their educational journey, the student will develop the knowledge, communication, and innovation skills needed to make an impact in our world. There is not one optimal way to learn or to, in fact, promote the educational system. But why exclude the others and pinpoint the “one” that will optimize our success? The injustice to our students has gone unnoticed for far too long. As future generations come into the system, we want their passion for learning to burn like an eternal flame. We want their curiosity to get the best of them and break boundaries. After all, Learning is adaptive. Learning is limitless. Learning is our future.


  1. Oakley, Barbara. “A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra).” Penguin, 2014

  2. Prose, Francine. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read: How American High School Students Learn to Loathe Literature.” Harper’s Magazine, 1999

  3. Sedaris, David. “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Little, Brown and Company, 2001

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Cannot Read”: Revolutionizing Education. (2023, Aug 11). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/i-know-why-the-caged-bird-cannot-read-revolutionizing-education/