Before I begin, I should point out I loved going to school during my time of education. I loved the atmosphere, the teachers, the things we were taught. But if someone asked me what I actually learnt there, the answer is very little.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m more knowledgeable. I know how to apply Pythagoras’ theorem and what happens when you burn magnesium, and I’ve read books I never would have normally picked up. But education is about 90% memory test and 10% actual learning. We get told things we need to remember for exams and coursework – enough to get us to get decent grades. But even the exams are just timed memory tests. Remember as much as you can within two hours and, on occasion, try to use what you’ve remembered to find an answer.
The only lessons where we truly developed our personalities and styles were whilst writing stories in English or painting pictures in Art: the two subjects I decided to continue on into higher education. I understand there is only so much schools can do – there are so many rules now for teachers to follow and I admire them to no end for doing their jobs – but all we are doing in schools is learning things that the internet could now tell us. In University we are at least taught by professionals in the fields, such as journalists, psychologists, etc. They can tell us things we can’t necessarily find on the world wide web: their personal experiences.
And on the topic of University, in which I am currently studying, my fellow students have similar views on the methods in which we are marked. As a Creative Writing student, our work is marked on many things, and most of which have to be to our tutor’s tastes. For instance, if we were writing a comedy, and our tutor didn’t understand the joke, it is highly likely we would be marked down. When we are paying £27,000 or so a year, we don’t want to fail purely because one person didn’t understand our work.
There is also the matter of referencing. We lose marks if we don’t do it, and yet too much is practically plagiarism. I am told from my trusty Criminology student friends that they have to include at least fifty journal references in their bibliographies. I mean, in a 2500 word essay, how much of that is actually going to be their own work?
And then there’s fitness. The current education system seems to think it is enough to have two sessions of PE in a week… just two hours of exercise is enough for children with limitless energy. And then people complain Britain’s children are getting seriously overweight. Surely it would be better to have an hour of compulsory exercise a day for these kids? After all, exercise is meant to keep the brain active, and that’s exactly what they need.
I realise there isn’t a lot that can be changed in schools without creating some form of uproar from teachers and parents alike. But surely something needs to be done? With a growing number of children playing truant, dropping out of school and being unemployed because school is “boring” and they’d rather do something else, surely we should find a way to make schools fun and interesting whilst at the same time useful in preparing them for the outside world?
How to talk to people, how to pay bills and how to cook easy, healthy meals? Nah you’ll never need them in real life. Here, let’s learn about sin, cos and tan instead!