Here’s a provocative question for you: Is school necessary?
Chances are the answer to that question was a nearly automatic “yes”.
Having settled on that sound conclusion, I have a question. Is it really, though?
Here a scenario for you: if an unbiased observer who was unfamiliar with the school system was asked to come in and tell us what they thought the point of school was, what would they say?
Would they conclude:
The point of school is to turn unruly children into compliant and obedient adults.
The point of school is to memorize lots of trivia.
The point of school is to stamp out diversity and replace it with conformity.
The point of school is to make kids physically inactive.
The point of school is to crush creativity.
The point of school is to instill the fear of failure in our children.
The point of school is to process and rank large amounts of students.
The point of school is to make learning not fun anymore.
The point of school is to crush childrens’ dreams and convince them that the best they can hope for is to settle for a “safe job”.
The point of school is to get good grades.
The point of school is to get accepted into another school (and the point of that school is to put you hopelessly in debt).
The point of school is to teach kids to sit still and be quiet.
It’s at least worth asking should we change how we school our children?
Here’s my favorite school story:
My apologies if this story is well-known to you. It’s an old joke, yet a useful illustration for various themes.
A mother repeatedly called upstairs for her son to get up, get dressed and get ready for school. It was a familiar routine, especially at exam time.
“I feel sick,” said the voice from the bedroom.
“You are not sick. Get up and get ready,” called the mother, walking up the stairs and hovering outside the bedroom door.
“I hate school and I’m not going,” said the voice from the bedroom, “I’m always getting things wrong, making mistakes and getting told off. Nobody likes me, and I’ve got no friends. And we have too many tests and they are too confusing. It’s all just pointless, and I’m not going to school ever again.”
“I’m sorry, but you are going to school,” said the mother through the door, continuing encouragingly, “Really, mistakes are how we learn and develop. And please try not to take criticism so personally. And I can’t believe that nobody likes you – you have lots of friends at school. And yes, all those tests can be confusing, but we are all tested in many ways throughout our lives, so all of this experience at school is useful for life in general. Besides, you have to go, you are the headteacher.”