I was observing my students stress over their test last week and it got me thinking about what learning actually is. How much does a test matter in the scale of things? I vaguely remember my high school tests and what results I achieved. It wasn’t that long ago! 😉 What I’m trying to get at is as educators we emphasize so much on textbook knowledge that we think it is the be-all and end-all of education. Scoring high in tests and exams is crucial but when textbook knowledge is all that we teach them that’s a problem. Earlier this week I was chatting with my colleague saying that I had to cancel the debate training and that next week I’ll focus more on impromptu debating. Her immediate reply was “better focus on prepared motions because at least they can win those”. Was I surprised this was what she said? No. That’s exactly what our kids of today work towards: winning, being the best which means there is only one winner and the rest are losers. Is that the society we want for our kids? We are promoting our children to stress over studies so that they are the best among the rest. Not the best they can be because perhaps their best would not be an A student according to some rubric created by the system. Through this experience I saw first hand how we constantly encourage our kids to take education too seriously that they don’t know how to have fun. Should education be all about getting the best marks meaning As? Academics focuses on As (results) and competitive activities focus on winning; being the best. So what if a kid is the best he/she can be but not I the best that the system expects? What happens to their self confidence? But also what are we teaching them? When we believe in competitiveness we then focus on ourselves only because there is only one winner so we look out for ourselves. Like Charles Darwin said “surivival of the fittest”. How sad is that?!
I see my students and boy am I grateful I am not a kid right now in the local education system. I can’t speak about the IB curriculum or the GCSE but I can assure you that it’s about all grades. Somewhere down the line our society, we humans have created an educational system that follows a rubric that categorizes students based on how they retain information or how they memorize information! It’s not about how they use this information in the journey of life but how they reproduce it in a fixed context on a paper crammed with other papers to study. How pleasant is that! I’m not here putting teachers down but clearly highlighting how I feel about our education system. How we humans have made our lives more stressful and complicated by having more structure which doesn’t necessarily help us to grow as individuals to be the best we can be. Besides, I noticed how my students were stressing prior to to the test and didn’t have any tools to calm themselves down. I told them to breathe and just focus on their breath. I used Dan Millman’s movie which my class had been watching (The Way of the Peaceful Warrior) to remind them to see things from a bird’s eye view . How I’d like to introduce meditation in my class and grade them on that lol.
“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.” — John W. Gardner