After 17 years of wading knee-deep through the humdrum soul-sucking cesspool that others will regard as the UK education system, I thought it was high time I had a rant about its many flaws. Having come from a working class, single-parent family (weep for me), I was not as exposed to exciting opportunities as I wish I had been. There was no talk at home of internships, learning foreign languages or studying abroad. Often, I wished that there had been a place outside of my home to enlighten me. A place where alongside learning about fractions, the menstrual cycle and the microscopic parasites fornicating on my eyelashes, I could discover more about tapping into my potential and profiting from countless opportunities geared towards bright young people.
S-s- school? Is that what they called it? Ah, if only.
The concept of school is much better on paper than it is in real life. In theory, school is a supposed to be a place where children learn more about themselves and the world around them. In other words, learning for learning’s sake. Mini humans are provided with a service; we teach them the way they learn. Sadly, things are often the exact opposite. I always felt expected to learn the way teachers chose to teach. Whilst I still managed to get good grades, I feel those whose mind palaces could not adapt to the memory game that is our education system, were neglected and their potential, wasted.
To illustrate this, imagine that every child is a valuable suitcase on a luggage conveyor belt that continues to twirl at what it imagines to be an acceptable speed. If you manage to stay on – bully for you! If not, well, please accept our (in)sincerest apologies but there is nothing we can do for you.
Nay ye cretins.
We are all valuable suitcases. Maybe even of the John Lewis variety.
But never mind how we learn. What about the content of our syllabuses? Do we educate children on financial literacy, emotional intelligence, or mental health? Instead of watching science documentaries from 2004 do we show them inspiring and thought-provoking TED talks? No, we do not.
Listen ‘ere kids, it’s time to disregard the system.
“But Pooja, you know about other things instead!” I hear you cry. “You know about igneous rocks! 101 Dalmations was inspired by the Pointillism art movement! Nicotine is a depressant!”
To hell with the igneous rocks, my friend. Give me a real education.
Now that we have established what is wrong with what we learn and how we learn it, let us move on to what happens when you are being assessed. Something that seems to be a norm for most people but stands out as being utterly unacceptable and worrying to me is exam paper remarking. Every year, college students send their papers back to the exam boards to correct potential faults in marking. You had ONE job, guys. ONE JOB. There are students that juggle studying, volunteering, applications and part-time jobs. You only have ONE THING on your list of things to do. ONE.
However, students continue to miss out on places at top universities due to careless or patronising marking. It is something of which I have been a victim. Back in 2012, I sat my A2 English Literature paper. At GCSE level, I achieved two A*’s for English. For AS English Literature, I achieved full marks. Now for some reason, my luck ran out in the final English paper I ever sat. Whoever marked my exam – I’ve fondly named him Judas – peppered my paper – try saying that really fast – with illuminating criticism such as “hmmm” and “oh really…” After spending what was probably a whole ten minutes marking my paper, Judas gave me a B. I was crushed. The implications of this is that I am now forced to apply for my dream job in the legal sector with mitigating circumstances as I do not meet the ABB minimum required. Just as a flower raises its head towards the sun, I raise my middle finger to you, Judas.
Finally, let us discuss character building. We’re doing it all wrong. It is only once we reach university that we have an abundance of extra-curricular activities, societies and social events at our fingerprints. However, at the age where most children are lacking in confidence and interpersonal skills, there is little available. It’s backwards. The whole system is utterly backwards. It’s like flushing before you poop. Does it really help anyone? No, not particularly. Students of all ages need to spend less time boring themselves with theory and more time practicing.
In fact, schools ought to think more like Robin Williams, who penned this brilliantly damning letter on behalf of co-star Lisa Jakub, whose principal threw her out for taking time off school to film Mrs. Doubtfire.
An education should be inspiring and enriching: one that is never-ending. Do not think your education has come to an end once your final exam has been marked, as it is a continuous experience. Do not give yourself a finite assessment of your intelligence based on an exam board’s dishing out of random numbers and letters.
I end my late night coffee-induced ejaculation of anger and bitterness with a quote by Mark Twain that is as profound as it is unverified: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education”.