That thing called education

Since having kids I’ve put a lot more thought into the ‘education system’. I’ve never really liked it to begin with, but after years of thought and investigation I am definitely am less keen now.

Simply put – I don’t like the system, it sucks. It’s all wrong. Full of systems, processes and tests that doesn’t really consider the needs of the child/student.

All signs of creativity seem to have been pulled. Schools/teachers must do this. Must do that. Unable to wander about as they have to keep to a tight schedule. Learning is from books or inside a classroom, and the real world is forgotten.

Students from all stages of school/college/university are increasingly unprepared for the real world. They are taught everything seperately. History is taught as history. Maths is taught as maths. Science is taught as science.

Yet on their own these subjects often make little sense. Why not teach someone how to cook, or how to do woodwork? They’d naturally learn maths concepts as they go along and actually enjoy it.

Why get people to memorise so that they do well in exams, only to rapidly forget everything they have learnt and not be able to apply it to the real world?

Why are school/college/university graduates not prepared to enter the real world?

My eldest starts school in September. He’s learnt a lot since he was born (obviously!) and none of it is down to school. He’s learning to read & write at the moment and asks lots of question about everything – as kids do. It’s all off his own back. He wants to learn about the world around him. There’s no pressure and the pleasure he gets from it is obvious from the glow in his eyes.

It’s a natural instinct to want to learn and understand the world around. With a bit of encouragement, do we really need such a rigid and restrictive educational system?

I’ve opted for my boys to go to school elsewhere. It’s costing us when I don’t think it should. I would like to see a future where we have more choice. Where ‘educational establishments’ can truly put their learners first. Where people can have a choice.

I don’t see this yet. Perhaps my grandchildren will. That’s what I’m hoping and pushing for.

6 comments on “That thing called education

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    not all state ed is bad – my 2 are at a fab school – local village one – they do a lot of outside learning, a lot of integrated subjects, a lot of real life experiences.. I love the education they are getting there – they have cooked, the bring crafts home most days, they have time to ride bikes, build camps etc etc and they are learning – I am happy!

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    Great post Rosie. I agree with you wholeheartedly, both as a fellow parent and as someone who benefitted from the choice to have a very liberal, state-supported education (before the introduction of the National Curriculum by the Tories and subsequent meddlings by New Labour).

    I have posted a similar rant with my thoughts and feelings on the matter at

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    Hello Rosie. I TOTALLY agree that public education in the US and most of Europe is, well, bad. It was invented more to educate the prussian enlisted soldier (smart enough to do routine tasks but completely obedient to orders) or the american factory worker of the industrial age. (Also smart/routine but obedient) James Bach and I homeschool. More accurately, my wife homeschools, but I think James has sctructured the nature of his work so that he has more times with his family. (More writing, less travelling, more work from homes stuff, etc) – but I can’t speak for him. With your talent level, you could probably go part-time from home (contracting) and homeschool. In an event, I agree that private school does a better job and solves some of the problems. That was one of our options, but we decided to homeschool. Regards, –matt heusser

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    I read a lot of scare stories about education and the state school system way back when my daughter was about to start school next month she’s going to graduate with a First and then jets off to NY for her 8 weeks training with an investment bank Did I get lucky ? was it my genes ? was it me spending lots of time with her ? was it her following my example and seeing me reading and still learning ? I think there’s a lot of influences going on and the education system didnt suck for me – or my daughter – or even my mother

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    I agree with you on many points. My daughter is still a year away from starting school (which is FAR too early in this country anyway, but that’s a different debate). But we’re looking at all the options, which includes home education as mentioned above. I live in Lewes and know the New School reasonably well – I think they’re generally doing a good thing but at this point I’m not their biggest fan. Let us know how you get on.

    The interesting thing is that there is plenty of debate high up in the echelons of government thinktanks and advisors, airing some quite radical thoughts about how to reform the education system. I’ve had the opportunity to look at some white papers from a couple of years ago (Milliband et al), which would suggest that they really know the current schooling methods don’t work. They’re not stupid. But there is a huge amount of resistance and opposition to radical change (as you would expect). Who knows, maybe in our lifetime we will see a massive re-design of how young people learn in formal education. The thinking and evidence is definitely there.

    And Phil, I agree that the education system worked for me on the whole. But I’m sure you know plenty of people who wouldn’t say that, not because of their perceived academical flaws, but simply because the ‘one-size-fits-all’ principle failed them! That’s what a lot of the thinking at the moment is about: learners are different and that’s institutionally not catered for (it can’t be, the way formal education is set up).

  6. - Post author

    Thanks everyone for the replies. It’s encouraging.

    Home education has always been on my mind and it may be something I consider when my boys are older. I’ve thought hard about it and feel I wouldn’t be the best person to guide them in their early years.

    @Matt I had some conversations with James Bach a couple or so years ago and based on that found and sent my boy(s) to a Montessori nursery, where they’ve been very happy.

    @phil I would be daft to judge on your daughter’s situation. The system can work well for people. But from what I understand she’s done well in education, but has not yet experienced the working world. I would like to think all goes well in her career, but it may be a bit early to judge if she has made the right decisions. Perhaps look back in a few years time and see how things are then. I’ve heard countless stories of people studying years for something to only then experience it and discover that it’s not what they want.

    @wolf It’s encouraging that government are wanting to change, but we all know it is a very slow process. The Uni of Sussex is also looking into alternatives, which is encouraging.

    Change is happening, it’s just a bit too slow for my liking!

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