Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Back to school

Based on today's news on yet another school reform, I am compelled to go back to the topic of Mr. Brown's passion - education.

Interestingly, as generations of politicians in the UK name education their passion, somehow our kids are plummeting on international rankings (in terms of literacy for instance).

We are again debating, what amount of stress will be induced in kids if they are tested at what age. Experts debate arbitrary numbers, all keeping themselves on the cautious side of things, just in case kids will grow up marked for life by their oh-so-terrible education system.

Well, interestingly, if one looks around Europe (let's not get the US into this picture... they are renowned for their amazing education system...), kids grow up in many systems that are based on tests, random continuous checks on their level of knowledge, etc. etc. Somehow, they did not turn into psychological wrecks and they successfully applied and got into top universities of the world.

The one thing that does make them very different and heaven forbid to have that in the UK: they, by the age of 14-15 at the most, learn what it means to put in an effort for just about anything in this life that they want or need to achieve.

I watched in the UK students whining and being depressed about 13 hours per week on average, with Wednesdays kept free for sports. Not for a moment I'm saying that my education was perfect, but when we had 38-40 hours per week for 5 years, plus projects, then we learnt what it means to WORK hard for something. If, of course, by that time we did not pick up that thought or realisation in school.

I heard students whining about how a 9AM lecture ruined their day. How they are under immense pressure. How it is unbearable sadism what they have to put up with.

And while kids and these more grown-up sized kids are being sooooo protected by the softer and softer education system, while parents see them for maybe 1-2 hours per day as they are chasing what can be only called the postmodern lifestyle, they are indeed changing and reaching a point where not only they can't read and spell, but they think they really are the centre of the Universe.

They have rights. Full stop. Duties, obligations, come on - who heard of those? Those sound like words that apply pressure, need responsibility etc. And just where and when would they get used to it, if all their childhood and adolescence was marked by the pinnacle of education systems that protected them against ANY stress...?

I am looking forward to next year's A level results again. I am sure they will improve even further without the lads and lasses being less and less stressed out by... oh yes, LIFE.

No comments: