Sunday 27 August 2017

Nerd Church - An Edumacation

Education is not the same as grades.

There! I said it! (...Please don't yell at me!)

blackboard and apple pic

That's not to say that grades and exams and all that jazz aren't useful for measuring education!

And well done if you've got good results my nerdlets - and if you didn't, don't panic.

(I know, that's easy for me to say. But it's not the end of the world my nerdlets, I promise.

Still, if you're really struggling emotionally get help, m'k? Ring a helpline, talk to family, friends, doctors - whatever you need. You're important.)

But I know people who got great exam grades - awesome qualifications - and they're useless. Just useless.

I have no idea how they ever got those grades, but those pieces of paper really are doing nothing for them.

These people are not educated. Full-grown adults with degrees who have lived in a rural town their whole lives and didn't realise that bulls are male cows. YOU HAVE A DEGREE. Seriously.

Education should be about teaching people HOW to think.

Opening the world up and saying - let's see what we can make this! Rather than saying: this is the world, this is some sh** that happened that you'll need for the exam.

Maybe it's a lack of common sense. Maybe we're so focussed on 'the answers,' that we forget about the questions.

"I can't open the door!"
"Well... did you unlock it or...?"
"Well that would help."

This is probably due to my hippie upbringing mixed in with my working-class grandparents, but really isn't life a combination of thinking outside the box, and recognising what the box is to begin with?

It's much easier to dismantle the thing if you know whether it's a bicycle or a bayonet. Y'know?

Education is key.

But if everyone has the same qualifications, employers just start asking for more.

(Or for experience - which as my fellow millennials will know, is the Catch-22 of needing experience to get a job to get experience.)

And if people still, at the end of their school-life, aren't able to understand and navigate the different issues affecting this world (*glances at the train-wreck of modern life*) then hasn't the education system failed fundamentally?

Education shouldn't end with school - there's always something to learn.

That doesn't mean you have to go to college or university - it just means keeping an open mind and learning about this terrible and wonderful world of ours.

The thirst for knowledge needs to be encouraged in kids - not to become smarmy brats who think they're better than everyone else, but to enable people to grow as individuals and make the world better for everyone.

(Iesu Grist, I'm seriously starting to sound like my parents.)

That encouragement needs to come from schools, yes, but also from the infrastructure and attitude of local services.

How is a kid without a local library supposed to learn that reading is awesome? How is a kid whose teacher only has GCSE Spanish - that they sat the year before - supposed to achieve the best and develop their language skills?

How is a kid who does not have any opportunities supposed to compete with someone who has had every opportunity?

I didn't grow up in the most prosperous of areas, and while my father's job meant we were comfortable compared with some of our neighbours, we were by no means rich.

The school I went to was underfunded, underequipped, understaffed, and underachieving. The teachers blamed us if the results weren't good enough and ALL they cared about were results.

The teachers who were both a) competent, and b) caring, didn't stick around that long.

Like the teacher who was trying to teach a GCSE History lesson about Ellis Island and ended up painstakingly explaining the following to a class of 15-year-olds:
  • what an island is
  • that the UK is an island
  • that Wales is part of the UK mainland, and not in an island on its own despite the fact that we go over a bridge to get to England
  • that America is not in Europe
  • that the UK is in Europe
  • that Europe is not an island
  • that the Northern part of the UK is Scotland, not Wales - we live in the West bit; the other bit is England
  • that America is not close, geographically, to the UK
15-year-olds. I sh** you not.

But the point of this post isn't to complain about all the failings of my school (that would take waaaaay too long.)

My point is this: I've seen what a poor school in a poor area looks like.

It ain't good, and a lot of the problems were the same as you'd find in inner-city schools, minus the gangs (and done on a field, so... more fresh air, I guess...?)

Kids with poor backgrounds, or rough backgrounds, or both, need SUPPORT.

They need encouragement, rather than pressure, and investment in THEIR LIVES.

Because the people at the top? The ones who can afford to send their kids to the best schools and hire private tutors? They don't understand what it's like to fight your way out of a cycle of poverty.* 

Neither do they understand what it's like to go to a school where the staircase floods every time it rains, and you're sharing one textbook between three or four people.

*Granted, I don't know what it's like to live in true poverty either. But that's because previous generations of my family worked damned hard to break that cycle.

Education is not the same as qualifications.

Education is learning how to think, how to live, and developing common sense.

Qualifications are a measure of what you think, and what you wrote, on one day in your teen years while spiders fell on your head.

We need both - and not just for the rich kids.

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  1. Wonderful, WONDERFUL post! I know I don't know what it's like to live in poverty, but my mum does. And she reminds me of it every day, to appreciate what I have, the education I have, and to make the most of it. Although I am sometimes that kid who doesn't know that a bull is a male cow...hahahahah its crazy that I'll remember difficult trig rules but not common stuff like this.. :S

    1. Kid... yeah... he wasn't in his 20s when he made that statement... *shifty glances* LOL!

      While I don't know what it's like to live in poverty, I certainly know what it's like to live in an impoverished area. Posh people who just *don't get it* really irritate me!

  2. I am a form believer in the fact that you learn something new everyday. But it doesn't have to be a math problem or something that the school system says is important, it can be anything!! My mom definitely knows what it's like to live in poverty, she had to put herself entirely through university, which inspires me on how important it was to her to follow her passion. Now she's a teacher and inspiring other kids to do the same!

    1. Yes! Edumacation is everywhere dammit!!! ;)

      And that's awesome :) My dad was a teacher for a little while, but he didn't really like it and (and I quote,) 'Margaret Thatcher took the jobs.' #TrueStory Lol.

  3. This is a really thought-provoking post, so thank you. I've always been the kind of person who believes that anyone can get good grades if they work hard, but then I live in a very affluent area with very, very good schools. It's easy to think that everyone else has just as many opportunities when you're blinded by your own privilege.

    Also, with your permission, I think I'm going to turn "it's easier to dismantle the thing if you know whether it's a bicycle or a bayonet" into a personal catchphrase.

    1. Ha, of course you have my permission! ;) I would be honoured.

      I understand that when you've had good schools in affluent areas, it can be hard to get why people *know* that the lack of opportunities holds people back.

      But when you've been to a school where you have to share a keyboard between two or three people in music lessons (which I don't recommend - it ain't easy, and you only ever learn one hand,) and you are literally working on your own lap in a chair that's half in the classroom and half out the door b/c there's so many kids crammed in... believe me, kids who need extra help fall behind fast.

  4. "Because the people at the top? The ones who can afford to send their kids to the best schools and hire private tutors? They don't understand what it's like to fight your way out of a cycle of poverty." well said and so [sadly] true. Unfortunately it's the people at the top the ones making and enforcing the policies. I'm big on teaching y kids how to think it makes them crazy but I never answer "silly" question for them. I always forced them to seek the answer. Because if there is something for which I have very low tolerance is people that don't want to thunk. They are the first to resort to labels for everything which divides us and it's pretty much the root of all our problems as humankind. lazy brains = labels and generalization = prejudice and lack of connection = wars, and other things that plague us. Great post as usual!

    1. Thanks! :)

      And I really have no idea what to add to that! Lol :)

  5. Interesting! I agree with your points here, but have my own two cents to add. I've been homeschooled my entire life and one of the big reasons my parents decided to take me out of public school kindergarten after six months was because they recognized that I was being taught WHAT to think, not HOW to think. (That, and I was sent home with a mess of homework that I was never taught how to do, so my parents were basically teaching me anyway.) Schools are educating kids on how to memorize facts and take tests, not on how to develop critical thinking and the ability to think for oneself.
    Also, love that you used 'edumacation'. I seriously thought that was just a 'my family' kind of thing. XD

    1. Yes! Learning *how* to think is so important! (and maybe learning that bulls are male cows... lol.)

      And you had homework in kindergarten?! Isn't that for very little kids? We didn't really have homework until we were 8 or 9 - which is like 3 or 4 years after we start school.

      And of course! - You gotta have an edumacation! ;)


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