Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Back to School

Today is "back to school" for millions of children. Probably one of my favourite days as a kid. The week before would be spent gathering up supplies, packing a new school bag, picking out an outfit. From nursery school through university, it felt like a new beginning. I was awash in emotions from excitement to nervousness. I loved to learn, loved to earn good marks, loved to read and present projects and write essays and do math problems (yes, I really did!)

Because of some readings I've come across of late, that feeling of excitement is a little dampened. What were all those years for? What did all those projects and essays and books and A's accomplish in me? Was there genuine growth within? Did I learn to question and dig deep and go beyond the surface? I wonder about that now.

In my own little corner in my own little house, I wonder what the larger purpose of my education was? I read this on a friend's blog:

Here’s a yucky quote by one of the men who had an early influence on curriculum

‘The real purpose of modern schooling was announced by the legendary sociologist Edward Roth in his manifesto of 1906 called SOCIAL CONTROL… In it Roth wrote… “plans are underway to replace family, community and church with propaganda, mass-media and education (of course he meant schooling)…people are only little plastic lumps of dough”.’

Did you know that in some countries it is illegal to homeschool? Did you know that they are trying to do the same thing here in North America? I wonder if it is because they think "the system" can do a better job educating our children, or if it is because they want to conform the children into one mold? Why on earth should every child be taught the same things in the same way and graded against the same standard? Who decided what the standard of a "perfect school child" should be? What if I don't agree?

I feel the crushing weight of the shackles they clamped on my ankles as they set us all up in a line.

The early years: give them lots of play time to teach that school is "fun"
The elementary years: teach the children to please the teacher and give him what he wants
The middle school years: give them a taste of the freedom high school promises
The high school years: make their world evolve around getting A's, so that they can get into a good university
The university years: four years for them to rebel against the system and then learn to conform again

The system is so well crafted, they even realized that if they even gave us a false sense rebellion so that we will come to our sense early in life and fall back in line with society. I always defended school as being a place where you learned to learn. The algebra questions weren't important, but the skills you developed while mastering them. Now I question the entire system. I wasn't learning how to learn, I was learning how to please. I was learning what I had to do to get the A that would get me into university that would get me a good job. How false this turned out to be. All my good grades and all my awards got me nothing when I got out of university. Did any of you out there also have your bubble burst when you graduated? I felt so completely inadequately prepared. No one was giving me projects with due dates, or providing me with subjects on which to write a paper. There wasn't a job to enroll in, like I did with classes. The summer after graduation came to a close and for the first time I had nowhere to go in September. If 20 years of schooling were supposed to prepare me for life, why was I so lost? Why do so many of us flounder completely upon graduation? Why do so many return home? It seems to me that the real education is only beginning, and the past 20 years seem to have been wasted.

Isn't enlightenment...enlightening? For the first time I feel like I can truly go "back to school", starting fresh, and really have the chance to learn something. I am master of my own education now. With a creativity, books, friends as teachers and a whole lot of personal discipline, I want to start really learning something!

There's that flutter of excitement and nervousness in my stomach again...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have always maintained I earned my university degree outside of the classroom. My grades (along with my effort) dropped a good deal when I got into university, and more with each year (I graduated with a decent grade, but I could have done much better), but I learned more, and got more out of it, than I would have if I'd spent more of my time studying.