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Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Problem with the Education System

A few years ago I heard a couple of teachers say to me; ‘education right now feels like a factory. You take em in, churn em up, then spit em out.’ (Along those lines anyway). In other words, students come to school, memorise a bunch of facts and exam papers, then pass their exams in order to become the best drone. Yay! We’re headed into the next phase of our evolution: robots.
I didn’t like school for various reasons, one of which being that. You come in, you learn a bunch of facts for a bunch of exams in which memorising the facts becomes more important than the actual content; you’re told that these exams (namely GCSEs; A levels are a bit more complex) are the defining moment in your life and should be your only current focus, and if you fail them no college will take you, no university will take you, you’ll never get a job, etc.

Contrarily, I was one of those people that always did well in school; primary, secondary, sixth form. (That’s one of the main reasons I resented it; no one likes the smart kid and smart kids always feel like they’re never challenged enough or too stressed out over wanting to get straight A’s. I got AAB in my A levels and felt disappointed and got drunk later that day by myself, I kid you not). I believe in education for the sake of education, and that learning should be about acquiring knowledge not passing exams. All subjects, to me, have intrinsic value.

A teacher once explained to me the difference between intrinsic value and market value when I asked her why doctors or lawyers get paid more than street cleaners. Humans all have intrinsic value and our professions should be treated as such, but it takes years of training, money, sweat and skill to become a doctor, whereas anyone can pick up pieces of rubbish off the road. (Note: nothing actually holds 'value', value is what we place on things. When I say stuff holds 'intrinsic value' I am giving my opinion on what holds value, but value is only what we place on something).

The purpose of education, I believe, should be to learn and develop skills that will help you later on in life and to retain these skills and apply these to yourself. These should be intellectual (giving you academic knowledge), practical (helping to advance a future career), creative (through arts, sports, cooking etc) and emotional (the most difficult as school is a very emotionally challenging time – school can be a good time for developing social skills and friendships/relationships although this can often be difficult, and teachers often say stuff like ‘spend less time with your friends and more time studying’ which of course ignores a core need.)

The UK education system could use shaping up in all areas; until higher education we’re mostly taught to repeat and regurgitate information rather than critically analyse for ourselves. And this constant need for testing. Students from the age of five are tested, tested, and tested – for what? Learn these facts. Memorise them. Be the best drone. The problem with the work place is that it has people churned out of uni (and into debt) earning money for something they don't really have a passion for, rather than capitalising on their skills and passions. There’s nothing wrong with being practical, but there is everything wrong with doing something for the ‘sake of it.’ We should all be working on the things that we love and enjoy and bringing out the best in those. The movie Office Space is a good example of this. The purpose of humanity should be for us to grow and enrich our human
experiences, not sit around all day bored to tears doing stuff we hate.

This is why Arts and Humanities are often looked down upon. Ever seen anyone complain that there aren’t enough female bass players? No, they complain that there aren’t enough women doing STEM subjects. Everything is intrinsically important.  Why should Psychology be looked down upon in comparison to Physics? Why do they have to sneer at the Psychologists and call them ‘pseudo scientists’ and ‘unimportant’? What about all of the treatment for mental health patients? Psychology is going to help there, not Physics. If you’re a paediatrician, Chemistry and Biology will certainly come more in handy than Media, but Media will help more if you’re a journalist. Why should ‘more’ women have to do STEM subjects? Can’t people, male and female, who want to do STEM subjects do those subjects? If we go back to intrinsic vs market value, in the case of the Arts it takes the same level of skills and time to develop as it takes to be a doctor. You have to work hard at your instrument; practice it for hours, work with other people, study the theory, buy the equipment, gain confidence in performance skills, be able to handle critique. A good article on this topic: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/please-stop-telling-us-arts-subjects-are-worth-less-others

This is one of the things that really got to me when I was doing my A levels. I did Film Studies, History and Psychology, and ended up getting into mild arguments about the so-called ‘importance’ of certain subjects. Applying to Cambridge probably didn’t help as they respect more ‘core’ subjects (why I applied in the first place – i.e. to show off and prove that I could – is another story in itself). But yeah, someone who is great with numbers may not know the first thing about strumming a C minor chord. I’m very academic and artistic, but I’m shit with technology and building things – I’m not very practical (seriously; I still don’t know what engineering is). We can’t be good at everything, because if we were than there wouldn’t be enough people to fill out the stuff we can’t do.

So to wrap up, I think people should pursue what they enjoy and are good at. You can make a living out of pretty much anything. Some people make a living out of busking – I’ve met them. If you want to be a lawyer you’ll only be starting out at like ten grand a year, so it’s not like you’ll immediately be rolling. School should be a place to learn and expand our knowledge, but it’s currently a place where tired depressed hungry teenagers traipse the corridors, make fun of each other, fall out with each other and struggle to cram for tests so they can get the grades and forget what they learned. Teachers should be admired more for doing the best they can with what they’re told to do; students spend half their time in the care of teachers. The current system just straps students in to ship em out to the exam halls, rather than assisting them in growing intellectually and emotionally.

3 comments:

  1. Hello Zarina:

    Yes, education is to prepare you for the future by giving your the skills to survive in your culture. A thousand or two years back you learned hunting, fishing, gathering, making shelter, fire, clothes, and the traditions and stories that glue your people together. This has always been the way.

    Now we are being prepared to live in a globalist pie in the sky place that has never existed and will never exist. We are basically conditioned to be slaves or servants of a small group of folks with little intelligence and even less humanity.

    Back to your thoughts...very thoughtful and perspective.

    Kind regards,
    Mike

    ps: I willing up to your blog if I can. Something has been blocking me from joining other blog for several months now. I I am not listed in your followers, the problem remains.

    ReplyDelete

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