Every morning, millions of school children across the world wake, dress, cram in some cereal and run into school. Some of these children learn lots of useful things and make good friends- unfortunately; most of these children live in third world countries. In the States and in the UK, most children learn very little that is of actual use in their world.
When schooling became compulsory in England, it was part of a movement to stop children being abused in the work place and being used for cheap or free labour. Forcing families to send their children to school opened a lot of opportunities to the children that they would never have had otherwise. Their education consisted of The Three R’s- Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. This helped thousands of children to better themselves and help their families later on. This is however, no longer the case. With laws in place across the modern world to stop children working to hard for too long, the problem of child labour has ceased to exist.
The most important reason for schools has, therefore, been eradicated. But there are other reasons for school. There is making sure that all children have the same chances and opportunities in life; which means making sure that the intelligent children do not have an advantage over the less intelligent ones. There is of course, the social aspect of school. Schools have to teach children how to socialise.
The bullying that gets overlooked, the cliques that hurt many children’s chances of bing happy at school are ignored, so another generation of children learn that this behaviour is acceptable, and loosing the chance to learn the consequences their actions have on the emotions of other people. The obvious holes in the reasoning for compulsory schooling are becoming clear. “But seriously, if you think about it, if there was no compulsory schooling, children would never lean anything!” Where was school when we learnt to talk? Where were the rows of desks and textbooks on the theory of walking? What about even simpler tasks we learnt without school that we use every day? Smiling, laughing, gripping objects, even rolling over? Children learn most of their important life skills long before they set foot in an institution of ‘learning’. So what do we learn in school that we can’t learn for ourselves or our parents can’t teach us with minimal effort? The first two to four years of compulsory schooling can be useful. We learn to read, to write, to do simple maths. We enjoy learning new things, we enjoy the hour or so of playtime we get each day.
But by the time we reach aged nine, the glow of school and learning has worn off. We no longer learn useful, new things. We just revise everything we already learned. We spend hours of our lives revising topics we started when we were little and little bits of information have been dripped into our memories. So what was the point? This can be answered in one word- Examination.
Exams are the way that we are ranked in society. Your results are important; they help you to get into university. They help you get your first job. Beyond that, they loose meaning. How cares at forty what results you got at sixteen? How much information from school can the average adult remember? Learning by heart only to forget straight after the exams is not only pointless, but forces negative images onto learning.
As children, we loved to learn. We learn all the time. So why does the government and educational authorities believe that learning can only occur when children are locked in a dull room and talked at by a bored teacher? “Children need to go to school, otherwise they will never learn to socialise.” Learn to socialise. This is an interesting statement in itself. Being with other people is natural.
Playing with other children is normal, natural behaviour. No one needs to be taught to play. The whole point of play and making friends is that you can discover it for yourself. Socialisation does not need to be taught because it is a natural part of the human being. As for only being able to learn in a classroom, anyone can see why that is just wrong information.
As I said before, there are no classrooms for babies. They follow the example of the adults. They learn to talk and walk because they see the people they love doing it. The encouragement of their parent lets them discover how to preform these simple tasks. There is no textbook for walking.
How many teenagers would answer yes to the question “Do you love to learn in school?” My guess would be not many. I find it very sad that this love of learning can be lost to teens across the country and the world. Why crush this inherited love of learning new things with endless exams, textbooks, memorisation and revision when we have the power to set a generation free to discover our world? In conclusion, my point of view is that schools should be made voluntary, that learning should become the free expression of love for the world and its people again, not purely for the piece of paper with a grade on. Learning can happen anywhere, without the bounds of a classroom and the realms of a textbook.