The purpose of education

Education seems to be getting more and more skewed as time passes. The focus is on passing exams so the student can hit the working world with a nice impressive looking piece of paper. Yet what’s missing is a whole lot of life skills. Why? Is the point of education not to prepare the young to gradually become valuable members of society; to provide some value to it?

Babies are born with no knowledge and an insatiable thirst to learn. From birth to adulthood and beyond should be that learning time. It is not just up to the schools to educate either, basic skills are picked up before pre-school by interaction with parents, siblings etc. Kids also learn from their mistakes too…….and from their friends. We try to protect our kids and stop them making their own mistakes, or minimize the effects of those mistakes by covering for them, or making excuses. Why? They need to learn, and will learn if we let them. Why is it that many parents suddenly decide when their kids go to school that the role of educator is suddenly on one source?

None of us are islands, we are all connected…..and so we should be. We are communities of people who are often very different, but share a place we call “home”. Why is it that community minded areas are sought after places to live? Simple…’s because people care about each other, they have a basic level of respect and acceptance of each other. That is not taught, it is absorbed by living there.

When kids leave the education system they are supposed to be educated and prepared for life in the real world. They are supposed to be emotionally prepared for life as an adult, where they can and most likely will become parents of their own. Yet so many are not…..why?

Through pressure from governments, parents and community groups some subjects are either not mentioned or taught is a completely useless way. Some subjects are oblique to real life for most, and only of use if an individual plans further study at college or university. Some useful subjects are not taught at all.

  1. We have an obesity problem, with many hooked on an unhealthy diet, yet basic cooking, dietary, and keep fit classes are lacking. Personally I have no clue what the different food groups do, and it’s not easy to research on your own.

  2. We have a “me” culture where people have no concept of debt management, and are happy to buy fad items and build up huge debt……yet no basic home accounting classes are lacking. Information about interest rates (particularly compound interest), hidden clauses, debt recovery, small claims courts, bankruptcy etc is lacking.

  3. STI’s are on the increase, along with teenage pregnancies. Kids have to teach themselves through the veil of peer pressure to admit you know more than you do. This leads to bizarre beliefs like “you won’t get pregnant if you’re standing up” or “eating a spoonful of sugar before sex will stop you getting pregnant”. Kids MUST be taught safe sex.

People tend to be looking at kids the wrong way. Yes, these are children, but more important than that is that they are the adults of tomorrow. If we fail to equip them with the skills of judgment, common sense, community and living respectfully of those around them……can we really blame who they turn out to be?

People who can analyze an issue from several sides and make their own judgment which sees underneath the hype will rarely be fooled. This is not a skill learned by parents or schools who restrict ideas. If your taught that one idea is right, and all others are wrong…..your not being taught to use your own judgment…..your being taught to accept the judgment of someone else. This leads to a closed minded adult who has beliefs which they cannot really explain logically in a debate, but believe anyway. This is ideal for ensuring the kids think the way they’re told to (the way their parents do)……but many won’t, many will rebel because they want to make their own way.

Finding out about the realities of life is essential, but the timing is all important here. It’s no good saying “watch that spike pit” after someone is impaled on the spikes… makes much more sense to teach them about the spike pits so they can avoid them in the first place.

This analogy filters through many life skills like personal debt or pregnancy. The idea of not teaching them is justified by the “if we teach it, some will be encouraged to go try it” line. In the case of sex education, why is it that Dutch kids are much more relaxed and mature about sex, relationships, STI’s, contraception etc when they are taught at school while places who treat it as taboo have huge problems? This is not a skill learned by continually being told “you can’t know about …….. because your too young.”

People don’t live in an ageless bubble…..we are only 10 years old for one year (365 days). Each day that passes is one day closer to becoming an adult……yet those in the position of preparing us for that adulthood feel it’s alright to deny knowledge which will be useful as adults. Every child is different, as every parent will tell you…which means there is no easy age to start learning some life skills.

Look at what’s being taught, and ask…..are those life skills? We all grow and mature in different ways, we have different passions, different goals, different interests….which often change and evolve over time. Education is about giving kids a taster for many different paths, in the hope that one or more may energize them into taking it further later in life. That is often at the expense of common sense life lessons which we ALL need, to allow our communities to be the canvass of our daily lives.

It does not matter your skin color, religion, sex, height, weight etc….we ALL need to know that unprotected sex can and often does have consequences we have the rest of our lives to deal with, or that getting ourselves into enough personal debt that it ends in bankruptcy will have many years of repercussions on the possibility of a mortgage etc. We ALL need to be able to make our own minds up after seeing a range of viewpoints, rather than fall for hype or scams.

So much of our education is on “book smart” things which mean little or nothing for most of us, and really only have value if you plan further study. What do we expect of our kids if they are taught to pass exams for OUR benefit. They are a measuring stick we use to show how good we are in comparison to others. This is not education in my eyes……it is failing the people who are our future society.

What good is a certificate of straight A’s if:

  1. You don’t know that drinking to excess can kill you?

  2. You fall for politicians hype on a given subject without making your own mind up?

  3. You end up as a stay at home single mum stuck on welfare because of a series of unfortunate choices of boyfriends?

  4. You have no clue heroin is very addictive and is almost guaranteed to consume your life and send you to an early grave if you experiment with it?

There are millions of “if”‘s in this list in no particular order….I’ve only given a hand full to illustrate my point. I have a separate blog which also relates to this subject called “the result of exams

Which is more important and relevant to daily adult life?

  1. Knowing the date of Henry VIII died?

  2. Safe sex should be the only sex you practice?


2 Responses to “The purpose of education”

  1. Dr. Respect Says:

    Outstanding article. It is good to know some of my fellow warriors fighting for REAL EDUCATION.

  2. Dirk Gently Says:

    Coming from such an esteemed person as yourself, it’s high praise. Thank you. Sometimes I get things stuck in my throat, and they end up being rather long to explain properly lol.

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