Friday, 27 October 2017

What we do to children

Useless things they taught me at school

In my adult life I have taught English to foreign students, programmed computers, and worked in administration.  I have rarely if ever used, and so pretty much forgotten, all these:

  • Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • French
  • Geography
  • History

Let's say I spent 15 years in education and two-thirds was useless; that's ten years of my life wasted, at a cost of thousands of pounds to the taxpayer.

Now a list of what was useful to me:

  • English Language and Literature, especially poetry and the appreciation of poetry
  • Music – including singing, playing and appreciation
  • Religious Knowledge – especially the thought-provoking discussions
  • Woodwork: I was never any good at it but it has still been a good practical skill
  • Physics: Newtonian physics, that is. Light, Sound, Motion etc
  • Latin: because it helps me understand English better
  • Plus independent critical thinking

Finally, the things I remember and treasure.

  • Spending an afternoon with my class at eight years old, in the park, under the trees, playing traditional singing games, like “The Farmer's In His Den” and “In And Out The Dusty Bluebells”.
  • Singing in my church choir and school choirs as a boy.
  • Listening to my class teacher at the end of each day when I was ten or eleven, reading from the great children's classics, like Black Beauty and Tom Sawyer.
  • In my secondary school, being given independence and responsibility: finding my own way three miles to and from school and arriving on time; freedom to roam in the lunch break; responsibility for finding my own way to the playing field a couple of miles away for sports.
  • In my senior years at school, English lessons being given over entirely to wide-ranging discussions covering political and moral issues, philosophies, the nature of knowledge and the strangeness of life. (We were expected to take responsibility for reading our set books).

I wonder how I would have turned out if they had spent ten years helping me to develop and deepen as a human being rather than stuffing me with useless facts that I would forget anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment