I just didn’t enjoy it all that much.
I was raised in the United Kingdom and, while my experience with the education system was not always bad, it was also not great.
I’ve always felt incredibly frustrated and let down by the currently established formal education system – from primary through to university – which I think operates on a one-size-fits-all model and just does not understand what comprises a good education.
I’ve grown to be very mistrustful of the established education system and I am actively working towards reforming it and innovating new educational resources for individuals to access to make up for the gaps in their education.
But my beef with formal education boils down to two things – the curriculum and the teaching.
Uninspiring and ineffective curriculums
I was taught very little of the social and emotional intelligences of everyday life as part of my schooling.
I was never taught about the knowing of yourself for yourself in relation to and for the benefit of others.
I think this dispassionate approach to education produces too many drifters in society.
I hate to use the term, but by ‘drifter’ I am referring to individuals who do not know what they want to do with their lives and, even when they do settle on something, they still seem lost and dissatisfied.
And the reason they still seem lost and dissatisfied is because they never figured out who they were, what it was they wanted to do with their lives and realised their larger potential as a result… because they were never educated how to go about doing this.
Being an educator is fine for teaching the ‘to know’ and to do’, but if you want to teach the ‘to live together’ and the ‘to be’ then I believe you also must be a teacher-coach hybrid.
Students need to be nurtured to develop authorship over their education which, in turn, will give them the authority to live healthy and happy lives.
This was one of the key incentives for building my own postgraduate education, I wanted to understand the world so that I could better orientate myself and my wellbeing within it.
The curriculum is outdated and poorly suited for producing graduates who can be proactive problem solvers in the world.
The current curriculum puts too much emphasis on producing graduates who are skilled workers for a range of job roles which are going extinct.
The curriculum needs to place more emphasis on producing emphatic individuals who can think critically, creatively and flexibly to tackle the problems they will encounter in their personal lives and the problems they will encounter as part of a larger society.
An attitude and aptitude of entrepreneurship, innovation and problem-solving needs to be cultivated in graduates to ensure that they can proactively create sustainable and healthy lives for themselves as well as sustainable and healthy lives for society.
The time of one-track careers that kept someone going until retirement are over.
As I presented with my conception of the Green Education Model Curriculum, it’s time to think more transdisciplinary.
Teachers who shouldn’t be teachers
Another problem which is not helping the currently established education system is the fact that it has many teachers who should never have become a teacher in the first place!
I’m talking about the teachers who used to make you dread going into their classes.
The miserable ones I call them.
This relates back to my point about individuals drifting through society.
I suspected it of many of the teachers I was taught by, but I think this is also very much true of many of the teachers operating now – they became teachers because they did not know what else they wanted to do.
They needed an income and becoming a teacher was a relatively easy means of acquiring that income.
I have seen this pattern play out in some of my peers – after they graduated, they either did not know what they wanted to do or they struggled to earn an income doing what they had studied to do, so they have instead trained to become teachers.
While many people will no doubt become great teachers, I can not say that I would wholeheartedly endorse anyone to educate the graduates of tomorrow.
The best teachers are always the ones who find it a passion to teach.
The best teachers always try their damn hardest to move beyond the constraints of the education system to ensure that each of their students get the best education experience that can be provided.
The best teachers often diverge from the set curriculum and improvise their teaching based upon the nature of the class they were teaching and the feedback they would receive from each student.
The teachers I engaged with the most and gained the most from when I was at school were the ones who would make the effort to communicate with you in a style you felt comfortable with – they would talk with you; not at you or down to you.
For instance, I had an art teacher whose name I can not for the life of me remember, but she would just leave me to get on with the work I was producing.
By observing as an individual, she knew that just leaving me to figure out what I wanted to do on my own was the best way to get me to produce my best results.
Then, while I was engrossed in my artwork, she would occasionally come over and engage with me conversationally to get a sense of my thought process behind what I was producing, so she could assess my work and give me praise for the things I was doing well or that surprised her.
Furthermore, this art teacher was always accessible and ready to help if you asked for it.
Overall, I know that my former classmates would agree with this observation because it was something we often spoke about, as this art teacher was very popular with her students.
A school is made up of the standard of its teaching as exercised by the teachers it employs and if those teachers are of a low quality then the school’s overall quality will suffer.
If teaching for a teacher is a passion, then they will always achieve fantastic results.
But if teaching is just a job then that teacher should start looking for a new job, because they are more of a hindrance than a help.
Non-passionate teachers just want to get through the day and pay their bills.
Every workplace has them, the employees who care nothing for the job, they’re just there for the salary and the benefits.
Although, ironically, teachers often struggle to pay their bills because they are increasingly and severely underpaid, it’s why so many of them are leaving the profession.
Teachers provide an essential service to society and they should be paid accordingly, especially the good ones!
The current political climate of the UK is not helping the situation.
As far as I can tell, the UK is desperately trying to get whoever it can lay its hands on to become a teacher, even if they are totally wrong for the job.
So it would be unfair to completely lay the blame on the bad teachers as they do not always receive the support, adequate training or inspiration they should receive.
Clearly, there is larger systemic problem to be addressed.
But if the teacher cannot bring out the best in a student, not only will you end up with more school leavers who feel uninspired and don’t know how to orientate themselves in the world, but you will just end up producing more ineffectual teachers in the next generation.
Because at the end of all this, it’s always the next generation who pay the price.