The other day I was teaching one of my 9. Grade students who is about to leave the primary education system and go to high school. As I was sitting in the classroom with her and observing the way she carried herself, I noticed how ‘professional’ she is. She always has pencils and erasers handy. She has all the papers and tasks for the various classes she attends allocated to individual transparent binders so that she can easily access them. She almost never forgets to do her homework or to bring the text we are working with in class. She writes the deadlines down in a calendar. On top of this, she is almost a straight A student and her dream is to become a doctor. Now – while I am sure a lot of the reason why she is this way is due to her individual demeanor and character as well as her general upbringing and the values towards education that she has been taught from home, seeing the way she handles her education with self-responsibility is a rarity. I most certainly was not like this when I was in school and most of the students I teach are not like this. So it got me thinking about how ill equipped most students are at facing life ahead of them, especially when they transition from elementary school to high school, from high school to university (or the equivalent thereof) and from university into the working life.
As parents it is natural to want what is best for our children. We want them to be happy, to succeed in life and to know that we have done everything we could as parents to provide them with a fulfilling and prosperous life. We send them to school in good faith that they will get a sufficient education to prepare them for the future. While it is commonly accepted that it is the responsibility of us as parents to make sure that our children get ‘good values’ and ‘manors’ at home, we also expect the school system to ensure that our children are academically equipped to face the future. But as countless examples have shown, none the least over the last decade around the world, this responsibility is not being fulfilled. There are too many students in the class-room, not enough is being taught on the premise of each individual’s needs and teacher’s aren’t sufficiently educated.
When students reach high school they often experience a shock when they realize the increased level of difficulty that most subjects contains. And this is even intensified further when they get to university. When we finally leave the education system and venture into the job market, how many of us are equally equipped for what we will be facing?
Where is the education on inter-office conflict mediation for example? When do we learn about how to effectively communicate with other people? Why aren’t there any lessons on how to develop self-integrity and self-trust in school? We are expected to be self-disciplined, innovative, independent and responsible but when is it, where is that we learn these skills? The student that I talked about in the beginning of this blog-post has a natural ability to organize her education effectively. But so often such skills are expected to be innately embedded within a student’s life and is given little to no attention in the school system and in families. Students aren’t shown how to effectively do research or even to structure their homework and yet we expect of them to simply be able to do it as though it is abilities that everyone is born with.
Many people don’t even make it to, let alone through high school in this world. Those that do and make it to the university will often fumble their way through without ever gaining substantial knowledge or practical skills within the field they are studying. As such we have people coming out of the education system who are in fact not equipped to face the world effectively and these are then the people that become our doctors and lawyers and psychologists, our economists, our nurses and our bankers and teachers. We are supposed to trust that the education they have been given to become experts in their fields makes them so reliable that we can place our lives in their hands and trust that they will care for it with utmost respect, integrity and professionalism. But how many of us do not face daily struggles with people in such positions in the world-system?
The way the education system is currently structured is one-dimensional as it prioritizes a very narrow set of skills. And then we wonder why the world falls apart, when we cannot even make sure that our children has an expansive vocabulary, a clear understanding of how the world-system functions, let alone knowledge of their own bodies and minds? How can our children be equipped to face the future when we aren’t ourselves?
The thing that when we are talking about the future here, we are not talking about a stable predictable future where, as long as our children get good grades and manors the world will be their oyster. We are talking about a future that is becoming increasingly unpredictable and unstable, where even a university degree gives no insurance that one will get a job. We speak to our children about what they want to do with their lives as though the world of yesterday is sure to stand tomorrow, when in fact we are facing a situation where very few occupational areas will guarantee a job.
The school system has failed our children in providing them with the most basic skills needed to make it in this world, the very skills that the school system is supposed to be experts in providing. Our children’s learning environments are being threatened and compromised by the educational policy makers whose profit motive overrides any care or concern for our children’s future. It is therefore of vital importance that we as parents resume the primary responsibility for our children’s education – and within that we must educate ourselves on how the world works. For many of us that also means looking at our own work-ethics, our own self-esteem and outlook on the world, because that is what we will be passing onto our children whether we mean to or not.
The purpose of this blog-post is not to instigate fear for our children’s futures, but to bring across a realistic and common sense perspective on the situation we are all facing in this world. We cannot keep trusting an ineffective education system, whose priorities is on anything but actually equipping our children to face the future. This means that the education system has to change, but also that we, as parents have to change how we take responsibility for our children. The politicians and policymakers have made it clear that their focus is optimizing profits in any and all ways. You might say that the world in this respect has gone mad and become delusional in its race for survival. As such we cannot rely on the politicians to suddenly change course and prioritize an education system that has our children’s best interests at heart. This change has to come from us getting involved, getting engaged, becoming political, becoming a voice of reason and common sense in the debate. It also means that we as parents have the primary responsibility for our children’s education, which includes being active in changing the world that they are going to walk into. We cannot complain about the state of the world while taking it for granted. We cannot fear what will happen to our children in the future if we are not willing to take responsibility for shaping that future in their best interest. We cannot pass the responsibility of our children’s education onto a school system that we know is broken and ineffective. So when we ask whether our children are equipped to face the future, no one can answer that question better than ourselves.
For those ready to get involved and get moving I suggest investigating the Equal Life Foundation’s proposal of a Guaranteed Living Income System. This proposal suggests a groundbreaking change in political paradigms that doesn’t ‘take sides’ but instead presents a completely new approach to solving the problems we are currently facing in this world.
Educreate yourself here:
The Ultimate History Lesson:
PROPAGANDA | FULL ENGLISH VERSION (2012)
The Century of the Self
The Power Principle
Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century
The Story of Your Enslavement
Inequality for all documentary:
The Four Horsemen:
On Advertisement and the end of the world:
Third World America – Chris Hedges