School is a prison — and damaging our kids
The blueprint still used for today’s schools was developed during the Protestant Reformation, when schools were created to teach children to read the Bible, to believe scripture without questioning it, and to obey authority figures without questioning them. The early founders of schools were quite clear about this in their writings. The idea that schools might be places for nurturing critical thought, creativity, self-initiative or ability to learn on one’s own — the kinds of skills most needed for success in today’s economy — was the furthest thing from their minds.
So why on earth are schools still like this? I sent off the following email a few days ago to "the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP" the education secretary of the UK Government. I haven't yet received a reply and I strongly suspect I won't:
Might I suggest that the Government needs to radically change the nature of school and how it attempts to impart knowledge?
Many people seem to have learnt very little at school and lack basic grammatical and numerical skills. Others just get "brainwashed" into an unthinking passive acquiescence of the prevailing beliefs of the western way of thinking.
If after being taught maths and English for 11 years between the ages of 5 and 16 people do not know the answer to a question such as what is 1/3 divided by 1/9, or understand what a decimal point is, or understand the difference been your and you're, and loose and lose, then there's something fundamentally wrong with the whole way they're being taught. Trying to make children reach targets and cramming in information for exams doesn't seem to me to be the best way to foster either enthusiasm, interest or an understanding of the subject matter. They'll be unhappy, it robs them of the spare time of their childhood, and possibly creates an antipathy towards education.
A teacher needs to engage, use an enthusiastic tone of voice, attempt to show the real world applications of the knowledge s/he imparts. But, most importantly of all, pupils need to be divided in 2's and 3's to discuss some problem or issue, and think of solutions. Also it is imperative that philosophical topics are introduced at a very early age (that is if we are interested in education per se rather than merely education for the purpose of a specific vocation).
Starting to teach children the ability to think for themselves from primary school onwards, to question received opinion etc would be of immeasurable benefit in initiating the utilization of their innate intellectual capacities as adults.
Another relevant blog entry by me on my other blog:
Mathematics, Education and SchoolMathematics, Education and School