Written by a very good friend of mine, Becca (I think this makes a very valid point and one with which I totally agree):
‘Your school years are the best years of your life.’ They are your childish years, the years you play and have fun and never have to worry about anything. I think this is bullshit, I can’t imagine ever wanting to go back to those days.
It probably goes without saying that I have never got along with the education system. It’s not that I have an issue with authority; ok maybe I have an issue with authority. But I was good at school, I got good grades and did really well throughout my school years. But I never really felt challenged and at the end of the day I never saw the point in most of the subjects. School for me was a place where you all learn the same things from the same curriculum in order to pass the same exams. It was boring. I grew up being told that the intelligent ones were the ones who could memorise all the right facts and regurgitate them onto an exam paper. That’s not intelligence, that’s just having a good memory. And you know what? I used to spend months revising and memorising and then after the exam I would promptly forget the majority of what I had been taught over the past few years. Isn’t that such a waste of time? Learning is precious and amazing a yet we have been raised to believe that it is a chore, because that is what it has become.
Neil Gaiman said that “well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading, stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy but dull books that you like… and you’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool or even worse unpleasant.” I’m quite an academic person, I love to read and write and I LOVE to analyse art, but even I can see that the education system has failed us. I don’t love to read because school taught me to, in fact my love of reading almost vanished when I was told to read the same boring books that the curriculum assigned for us. My sister is training to be a teacher, and even SHE admits that after primary school the education system has just gone downhill.
I was told that in order to be accepted for the right job I would need the right degree, in order to get the right degree I would need the right A levels and in order to do the right A levels I would need to choose the right GCSE’s. You have to choose your GCSE’s at age 14 so schools essentially telling us that at age 14 you have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
We aren’t being raised to be successful adults and functioning members of society, we’re being raised to memorise facts and get good grades and then be thrown out into the world. We are put under such pressure from schools to decide on career paths from an early age that we aren’t prepared for real life situations. For example, when I was at school it was compulsory to take maths up to gcse level, and although I agree it is important to use math in everyday life, I have not once used algebra. So in theory, those two years studying algebra were completely wasted.
I left school knowing about quadratic equations and yet not having a clue how to do my own taxes or budget according to the circumstances I’m in.
At 18 years old I could tell you what happened to all 6 of Henry the 8ths wives but was lost when I was asked to vote, because I was being asked to elect a representative for a system I’m not familiar with. Just in case you wanted to know, it’s divorced beheaded died divorced beheaded survived. I’m so glad that I’ve got that ingrained in my memory instead of my basic human rights. How is it that none of us can recite that? Did you know that there are 30 human rights? I didn’t, surely that should have been one of the key things we were taught at school. I wasn’t really taught about the laws of our country or told about any current events.
I can only speak one language fluently, whereas most countries learn at least two. I can tell you all about Shakespeare’s classics but that’s no use when travelling if I can only speak English.
Here’s another example. I only learnt first aid when I had left school, but I feel like it should be one of the things we learn early on, something that we should just know.
Like if someone is unconscious more kids will be able to recite socatoa than will be able to resuscitate that person. This concerns me.
Kids should be learning about taking care of their own health, about how to recognise mental health problems. At school in sex-ed we were taught about putting on condoms, but we weren’t taught about what to do if the condom breaks, how to parent, how to maintain healthy relationships. We weren’t taught about rape, about sexuality, about discrimination.
If you can’t explain why a subject is applicable to most people’s lives, that subject should not be mandatory. Introduce the topics, but we should choose if we want to learn more.
I learnt so much more after I left school, but it was not easy.
I had to come face to face with death to learn about grief. I had go to weeks of intensive therapy to learn about distress tolerance, interpersonal relationships and how to be mindful in everyday life.
I came here to learn how to talk in front of people and I love it, but how is it that I have trouble communicating in the first place?
I learnt how to analyse art because I chose to buy books, to go to galleries, to put in the work. I did two years of art history at college and yet learnt more when I chose to go to Florence for a month and study Renaissance art for myself.
I feel that schools should be trying to inspire students, to teach them about real life and about how to survive and prosper in today’s society, maybe if we taught kids the things they needed to know, they wouldn’t feel so indifferent. What is the point in learning if we can’t apply it to our lives or use it to be creative and grow as human beings?
I’m going to leave you with a quote by Chuck Palahniuk. “All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired. “ We should all have the chance to be inspired. Thank you.
At this point I can only add that education being a factory of absorbing pointless facts (Henry 8th didn’t even technically have 6 wives)
From speaking to my parents who were both educated in the east end of London in the 60s, home economics and domestic science were taught, albeit to girls only. My mum said they actually had a flat at their school which they would have to pair up and manage a food budget
This would be massively useful to ALL teenagers today.