For those that follow me on Twitter and for those who don’t, I am an avid tweeter and many of my tweets are a critique on education or my own personal running commentary of Question Time. People often ask me why I personally feel so distressed by the current education system and the proposed changes to it. Therefore, I’ve decided to take the time to really explain why I feel this way and why you as a young person, or an older person, should be helping to campaign for a more sustainable education system.
What is intelligence? To some it is a form of mathematical ability, to others it is the evaluative skills to analyse and recite Shakespeare like the man himself. What the current education system fails to do however, is recognise the abilities and the intelligence of a creative young person. Michael Gove, the wonderful Minister for Education (note the unconcealed sarcasm), has constantly stressed that we need an education system that is strongly focused on the most academic subjects; the reason why he pushed so strongly for the Ebacc. The Ebacc consists of: English, Maths, Humanities, Sciences and Foreign Languages. So where do the arts fall in this? This academic premise many not directly state that we are disregarding art based subjects and I don’t seek to directly make that assumption, however, if the only way we compare the quality of education in the UK and internationally is by these subjects, then surely it does indirectly devalue artistic subjects because they are not included in formally assessing a student.
Why are we teaching young people to disregard subjects like Business and Music and place them so low in the hierarchy of education? By doing this young people who have amazing talents are being put down and forced to conform into an education system that doesn’t benefit them in the slightest. Education should be something that you enjoy and want to do, it shouldn’t be a burden forced on you, it’s a privilege and it’s time we started to realise this. Young people are marginalised because of such old traditions. Such old traditions which divide society into two sections; those who are non-academic, and those who are academics. As Sir Ken Robinson constantly mentions, all people are born creative but then we “educate” them. That really speaks volumes, as we are essentially educating the creativity out of our young people. By telling a young person that they are wrong and constantly closing doors for them by instructing them to take the academic route, we are in a sense losing a part of who they are and turning them into monotonous robots. Do we want a society of monotonous robots? Do you know where that gets you? That gets you a bunch of boring anti-risk takers who only work to please themselves. Watched PMQs recently? Sound familiar?
What I fail to understand is the lack of youth involvement with regards to the curriculum. I am a votes at 16 campaigner and because of this I feel that whenever the government decides to make a drastic change to the curriculum there should be a referendum amongst young people. This, I know, sounds impractical and you’re probably thinking ’yes in theory this should happen but there are X amount of reasons why it can’t work because of logistics etc.’ but I do feel that there is a serious lack of consultation with young people with regards to education and this must be changed. Last week, I was graced with the presence of Michael Gove on my TV during Question Time. He stressed that his education reforms have been given the okay by many academic scholars and professionals. This I’m sure is a great thing, and I think it’s fantastic that people who left the education system many years ago are now dictating how they feel it should be run (again note unconcealed sarcasm). Yes, we need a sustainable education system; however, as we progress and develop as a society it is imperative that we strive to keep up so we don’t have an outdated and useless education system. Gove, I know is a very intelligent man and even my MP Barry Gardiner agrees. The problem is he just isn’t listening to the voice of young people. “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say,” is a quote that I feel should be studied at some length by Mr Gove.
I’m very happy that Gove decided to not go down the route of the Ebacc because it’s not a fair way to asses a student. I’m currently in sixth form and studying the International Baccalaureate so I totally understand what the Ebacc would have entailed. I am experiencing many of good aspects of it, although as much as it’s a brilliant idea, it’s not for everyone and it should be a choice. What I want is a curriculum to prepare us for life. We need a curriculum that actually provides young people with the skills that they can productively use on a day to day basis. Why do we teach our young people that the only way to get around life is to work hard in school go to college, get a degree then get a job. J.O.B (Just Over Broke)? When, regardless of where or what I study, I’m not guaranteed to find a job. We need to be highlighting things like apprenticeships and vocational courses that are very concise and give you the direct skills needed to go into the world of work.
Our own snobbery and the attached prestige to the academic subjects will ultimately lead to our workforce diminishing. In order for us to still be competitive as a business capital of the world and progress as a society we need to have a multi-skilled workforce. We need to invest in a viable education system. What happened to telling children they could be anything they wanted to be; that the world was their oyster? The only oyster we are providing our children is the oyster card to take them to and from their 9 to 5 job. Think about it, no matter what age or background you are from, regardless of whether you’re in education or not, young people are 100% of the future and if you don’t invest in your future what future do you have to look forward to?
By Chanté Joseph