The failings of education: Why I don’t like school

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Misplaced Pride?

I’m sure all parents suffer the ailment of excessive pride in their children. It’s absolutely justified, in my opinion. Everyone should be immensely proud of their offspring. It seems to have resulted in a new issue for me however –  an issue with formal education.

My daughter is clever, although she is also pandered to, a result of guilt on my part. She still has her dummy, has trouble sleeping, doesn’t like to sleep or play on her own (I’m told she suffers from anxiety and is currently seeing a consultant to help us with this). But she is still extremely clever.

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For my partner and I, what seems to have happened is that we have become very disillusioned with our own lives. All of the things we had the potential for, and the things we have always worked hard for, have passed us by and wandered into the arms of others. It is probably because of this, amongst other things, that we are worried about and skeptical of our education system.

“The country spends less on education, tests more, excludes more children and promotes elitism. We’re miserable – and languishing at the bottom of the pile.”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/feb/23/england-schools-extremists-europe-tests-excludes-elitism

It’s a well-known fact that if you want to excel in politics, just as an example, you need to have money and a private education. Perhaps if my partner had had both of these things growing up, he would be in a much better position than Mr. Corbyn is today. But he didn’t, and he isn’t, so here we are.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/12200268/Alun-Ebenezer-Tomorrows-leaders-must-come-from-outside-gilded-cage-of-fee-paying-schools.html

Jeremy Corbyn thumbs up

Our daughter has so much potential, and she’s not the only one! I don’t believe that our schools cater to our children as individuals. Not one bit.

 

I think my partner and I are interesting examples here. Although both of us have first class honours degrees in History, we both started a couple of years late because neither of us had any confidence in our abilities or any sense of direction. I had gone through school doing well but I hadn’t discovered any particular talents, so although I was intelligent I had nothing special to speak of. My partner, on the other hand, went through school a joke and a failure, put into low-ability classes and not given the opportunity because of this to even attempt a History GCSE. It’s taken us until this point in our lives to finally decide what we are really good at and to attempt to use that for something worthwhile.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school. It’s amazing that curiosity survives a formal education” – Albert Einstein

It’s all about “leveling the playing field,” but what are we playing? No matter how level the playing field is, not everyone can play the same game and successfully compete.

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I see the difficulties, don’t get me wrong, and I’ sorry to say I don’t have a sufficient answer to offer. If all parents saw the importance of educating their child, encouraging them, providing for them, then the government would be void of responsibility. There are bad parents out there, and there are good parents out there who pass the buck when it comes to their child’s education.

I’m not blaming them either. We are made to feel as though a school education is the only one worth having. But the truth is that it is just one option which can work for a lot of people, but which certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

Theresa May wants to bring back grammar schools, and I am surprisingly tempted by this idea, despite the fact that The Independent seems to hate the idea.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/theresa-may-grammar-schools-lift-ban-education-bring-back-grammars-no-champion-of-social-mobility-a7177216.html

But having spoken to the font of all knowledge that are my grandparents, I am not completely convinced that grammar schools are really that bad. My grandparents came from working class backgrounds, went to grammar school, and had excellent carers in teaching and nursing. They may not have been politicians, lawyers or revolutionaries, but they were made to be what they were and they did well in those roles.

I, on the other hand, have no idea, at 28 years of age, what I would be really good at. What is my ‘calling’? Dunno.

The 11-Plus

Is this where it all goes wrong? Would I want so much pressure put on my 11 year old? One test that could map her future out for her?

I don’t know at this point how she would react to tests. I for one hated them and they terrified me, and I was a clever enough child.

http://www.theweek.co.uk/65930/pros-and-cons-of-grammar-schools

I am so torn on this issue of education! I want my daughter to be challenged and engaged without pushing her so far as to take away her childhood, her freedom and her individuality. I believe that as a stay-at-home mum I will be able to add to her education. I’ll be able to see for myself what my daughter’s strengths and weaknesses are, without having to rely upon what a teacher tells me. I’ll be able to supplement her school education with all the things it lacks.  Hopefully.

Any teachers our there who think they can argue the point that they are better qualified to teach my daughter than I am are welcome to try….

Here’s the truth of it – schools have become all about numbers and targets. So many kids have got to hit some target in numeracy to change the right number of cells on a spreadsheet from red to yellow. A child could be gifted in Art or Technology, but this is of little to no importance when it comes to the school’s data (and funding). I’m talking more about secondary schools here, the great evil in my opinion. A child is only really ‘gifted’ if they excel in Maths and English, things my first-class honours partner did not.

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God forbid if they want to to a brick-layer or make-up artist or a chef. A lot of people that I know that have gone on to do things like this – my dad for example, a brilliant plumber and very talented wood-turner – spent their 12 years of school being failures, struggling to meet unrealistic standards. Last I heard, the government offers schools less funding for pupils opting for vocational courses at GCSE level. Because of this, some schools are limiting the number of vocational courses a pupil is allowed to opt for.

Children are forced, then, to do courses that they aren’t interested in and may never do well in.

This is when I wonder if a grammar-school system could be worthwhile, or at least a system that allows for children to have an education more suited to their own interests and abilities rather than sticking to a very specific National Curriculum. My grandfather was a teacher during the transition to National Curriculum, and from what I gather it certainly didn’t do anyone any favours, especially not the teachers!

So what’s the answer here?

I don’t believe there is an answer here that everyone could agree on. You cannot provide the perfect education system because people’s opinions of what consists a perfect system will always vary.

Home-schooling is something I will definitely consider, but I realise that this does not provide the valuable social experience and discipline that comes from going to school. Primary school, at least, is a burden I am willing to bear for the time being in order to assist in my mission of bringing up a well-rounded, open-minded child. Primary school teachers are more focused on the individuals they teach then secondary school teachers are able to be, and I’ve seen this first-hand.

When it comes to secondary school, however, we will see what the next eight years brings!

 

 

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