This post has been prompted by the one by Jean at notSupermum, here, and the discussion that preceded it. It’s a topic that really got me thinking…
I think it’s safe to say that education these days is broader than it has ever been. Children and young people are introduced to mathematical concepts that, a century ago, were the preserve of a handful of specialists. Advances in science and engineering are passed on quickly into the educational system. Besides the tools of language (both our first language and others) many genres of literature are compared and contrasted. Historical topics are viewed from many angles, rather than being portrayed as a sequence of factual events. Geography includes consideration of socio-economic issues, and, of course, concern for the environment. Art and music include not only introduction to the activity for oneself, but stimulation to appreciate all types of composition by others, across a wide span of time. Citizenship (not a recognised subject per se when I was at school) includes everything from personal care to the machinery of government. I could go on…
So anyone could be forgiven for asking “What could today’s young people (in this country at least) possibly lack, as far as education is concerned?” Certainly, I think that, despite many, often unfair, demands upon them, teachers do a marvellous job, for by far the most part. So, what’s missing?
Perhaps, just one key message. Here it is, for all young (and older) people:
We’re giving you (or have given you) the building blocks. Now you must make the building called life. No-one else can do it for you. Make sure you have a great and worthwhile time, doing it.
Let’s start with simple examples: A bit of that biology, together with some maths, will enable you to compare foods in a supermarket, having regard to cost as related to nutritional value. A little chemistry, called to mind, helps when you need to select the right stain remover. But now for something a bit more exciting: a trip to see your friend, some hundred or so miles away. When do you want to get there? How long is the coach or train journey? How do you get the best fare deals? If you’re already working, how far in advance will you need to book time off? Not to mention, how long will it take you to pack? Now… hold on: do you remember that tutorial that bored you out of your mind, where the lecturer rambled on about critical path analysis or something? Well, after all, he had a point, didn’t he?
All those everyday things that you never thought about, like housekeeping and cooking, to say nothing of specialist study and going out to work, the things your parents do or did, are fast becoming the things that you need to do. So, pick up those building blocks, and make the very best, most exciting piece of architecture that you can.
Parents, teachers, countrymen – what do you reckon? (This is a non-calculator question.)
Thank you for reading.