” We are not all the same, we are NOT robots!”
These are the words of a fithteen year old woman, who shared with me her experience of school. She continued by saying,
“We are forced at the age of thirteen to start thinking about which exams we will take. We are forced to think about what we want to do with the rest of our lives based on these choices. It’s not right, it is too much pressure. We shouldn’t have to make these choices at this age, we are still children. At thirteen, we should be skipping around the playground with our friends not worrying about what college to go to”.
This same young woman is currently revising for her exams. I see the stress she is under. I see the overwhelming amount of material she has to commit to memory to pass these exams, so she can gain entry into college to study something that is not related to the material she is having to cram for.
As I hear more and more stories of young people becoming depressed and self harming due to the pressure of testing and exams, I can not help feeling I am witnessing a human rights abuse taking place. Children in schools are having their childhood stolen from them. Their right to play until they are ready to stop playing, (maybe never) is being taken away from them at an ever earlier age, with the UK government now wanting to bring in testing for children aged three and four years old. We have an educational culture that does not give young people choices over their own lives. If they choose not to do exams, they are penalised by an educational system which values academic, over creative or practical skills. The message is clear….
Free thinkers are not allowed.
Even, home educated children are being squeezed into the “One Size Fits All” model of education. Due to the way colleges are now funded by the current UK government, home educated children’s applications are now assessed on the same criteria as those who are school educated. All the qualities colleges used to admire in home educated children: being highly motivated and independent learners; having a general love of learning and dedication to their chosen subjects, is now redundant much to the disappointment of most college tutors.
Now, all that matters are exam grades.
The crazy thing is, exams mean little to most employers. Some business leaders I have spoken to say, they get hundreds of CVs from young people all with the good exam grades, but what they are really looking for are the candidates that stand out by having an interesting hobby or life experience.
I know of one employer who chose a candidate based on his Skate Boarding hobby, he turned out to be a valuable employee.
Creative technology companies such as, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Movie and Game Production are industries that are thriving, they are the possible future employers of many young people. In these industries, Free Thinkers are certainly allowed and encouraged. Unfortunately, I fear schools do not and never have, prepared children for the future. I am in agreement with Albert Einstein when he said, “It is a Miracle that curiosity survives formal education“.