The why behind schools

By Kenix Lau. Kenix lives in the United Kingdom. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.       

A school that instils the right type of values that governs the choices of each young person can give foundation and structure to what may seem like a chaotic world. If a school can tap into the desires of each young child, encouraging them to nurture their unique gifts and talents for the wider good, it can lead to a productive and meaningful life.

The opposite is also true if a school fails to connect with the young person for whatever reason. And if life at home is hard, this can be a lethal combination to further exasperate deep voids and a sense of longing to belong somewhere. School can present a place of hope and imagination that one day it might be just okay. And a better tomorrow is possible if one believes enough to do and somehow muster up the strength and courage.

The ethos of lifelong learning and self-discovery can encourage individuals to seek information and the wisdom, which may change the course of their lives rather than leaving it to chance. There are so many diversions in this world that the attention span and intellectual abilities seemed to be going backwards. ‘The conviction of reading and opening up the mind is somewhat poor.’-Mark Baruelin.

The current education system has a tendency to teach students what to think and not necessarily how to think – how can we progress as a society if we are only teaching the next generation what we already know and do? Therefore I agree with the following statement ‘Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.’-Margaret Mead. If schools foster this type of culture, it can be far more engaging and effective compared with the institutionalised ways that we have in place.

Life is far too precious for one not to be intentional about the start of every life, where the picture of self and the world starts to take shape, inside and outside the home.  Building strong foundations should be a priority of society as a whole; to be proactive in equipping the next generation to make informed and wise choices – ultimately valuing the gift of life. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and in the words of F. Douglas – ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.’

I agree in principle that ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’ – Victor Hugo. However, the challenge is how can education bridge the gap between what we have to what we need? In an ideal world, everyone would have the same life chances with a solid home life, coupled with a sound education that is fit for purpose, noting at the same time this doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome, but it certainly increases the chances.

Every child is different so for the principle to work in practice; young minds must be convicted enough to change and take action. Education brings elevation through the pursuit of knowledge, we can learn lessons from past generations and do better. ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you will learn. The more places you’ll go.’-Dr Seuss.

For schools to be fully optimised, the system has to drive its focus on life as a whole rather than simply driving academia for the most part. I would argue that the character of someone is far more important than their abilities. We have a tendency to invest lots of energy into helping our children to learn to read and write but perhaps less so on the other issues such as love, justice, mercy and respect. Ironically it’s the character of an individual that bears the fruits not just abilities in isolation.

There is a distinct need to explore who we are, so we know who we are not beyond the realms of our job, relationship status, accomplishments etc. If we were to lose our identity through things then we will also lose ourselves through things, as all these things will one day pass. In an age of striving is easy to think it’s the answer to life either as the saying goes, if you are not enough without it, you won’t be enough with it.

There is no manual to life but we can start to read, learn and explore to find our own meaning to life. Attaching who we are in terms of things that are subject to change, leaves us very vulnerable. In other words, if you were to strip bare of all the things that form part of your identity, who we are you?

We live in an imperfect world that requires a source (whatever that might be) that truly quenches our thirst for that something more and it’s up to us to go and find it that gives us life so that we may have a life. Your state of mind will become your state of flow – stay inquisitive to accept nothing and question everything.

A debate is a good start to creating a better system than the one we currently have. It has been said that education hasn’t changed in the last one hundred years, but the way the world works has. I think most would agree it’s time for a revolution in our education system to be proactive rather than reactive.

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