ONE of my friends, Bryan Tenorio, had an interesting reaction to last week’s article:
“Schools teach us to conform and follow the tried and tested norms...Schools should allot half of the school time encouraging students to think out of the box. However, it is essential for the kids to know and understand the rules first before they break it. That way, there is deeper appreciation of both the orthodox and the unorthodox.
In photography workshops that I’ve been to, it is always stressed that one should know the rules first before you break them. I find it effective so far.”
I do agree with the general sentiment but I feel the need to explain just a bit further. Whenever I talk about education in my articles, I am almost always referring to what is known as Basic Education or what we call primary and secondary education, or in short, pre-school to high school.
I am not talking about students choosing a particular course of study, or professionals taking special seminars to enhance their knowledge of a certain skill which may be a hobby or which may be essential to their profession. It is in this case that I agree with Bryan’s assertion of knowing the rules before you break them.
But when we talk about Basic Education, however, well what exactly are the rules? What is basic education for, anyway? Isn’t it to equip young kids with how to deal with life?
I mean, sure there’s reading and arithmetic and basic science and languages, but that quickly progresses to things that are not so basic like solving complicated word problems, or algebra and trigonometry, or the various layers of soil or the atmosphere, or Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion, or learning complex vocabulary words you will almost certainly never use in your lifetime, or diagramming sentences. What’s the line between basic and not-so-basic? And is it really necessary to force children to learn them before they can break them?
And how about many “basic” things that should be there but aren’t taught? Like how to talk and relate to people of all ages -- not just to sit still and listen to adults. Or how to settle issues by talking and reasoning, how to voice one’s own opinion, how to cooperate and collaborate? How about how to find your own way home? Or how to slice, peel, and chop food, and then cook it? Or using common tools like a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, or a handsaw? Or how to earn a living or how to protect yourself or how to report abuse? Aren’t these more “basic” than a lot of the useless stuff they put into the Basic Education curriculum?
How about finding yourself? Knowing who you are, and finding your purpose in life? Aren’t children entitled to explore these from a very young age, rather than being forced to go through the rigmarole of school and going all the way getting elementary, high school and college diplomas, but not knowing what to do with one’s life?
In fact, children have already begun this process since they began learning how to communicate and how to move around. For a lot of these kids, school is an interruption of this process. Instead of of being a help, it has become a hindrance, and a huge one at that.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.