A heartbreaking reminder of how our school system is NOT fit for purpose

My post today features a school essay written by Lachlan Moss when he was in Year 11 at High School. Lachie is now one of Australia’s up and coming musical theatre stars

  I have known Lachie all his life. He was a star from the day he was born. He featured in many of my early natural resource management promos.

Jaimie Frost and Lachie Moss.  Photo Linda Faiers

Lachie essay is a  heartbreaking reminder of how our school system is NOT fit for purpose

There are 7.6 billion people living on this planet and no two share the same story. In our lives we are all able to take a different journey, see different sights and think in different ways. This level of variety and individuality is something that humanity is gifted with. It creates our society. It lets us grow, create, learn, share and inspire.

This means there are 7.6 billion stories that can be shared. 7.6 billion different pasts being walked upon. This is society. This is natural. This is what enables us to create a brighter future. So why is it with all this variety could be celebrated, we are all pushed along a path, the same path, a path where we are taught that instead of having 7.6 billion different ways to respond, there is one answer, which is either A, B, C or D.

We are constantly being told to  “Think outside the box.”

If this is so important, then why is it we spend most of, if not all, of our childhood being told to fill out only the inside of one of four boxes.

It starts in kindergarten as we color in when we are told to stay inside the line. This concept of finding the answer is the main goal of the public school system. And this used to be okay. We used to live in a world with a simple paradigm, a simple concept.

Go to school, work hard, do well, go to university, get a job and gain some level of success and security.

This simplified linear path is no longer the case and no longer believed by students. The problem that this brings with it is motivation is lost in the eyes of the student. The education system was never designed to inspire the longing for education. It was created to inspire success and now that we live in the environment where this success is harder to achieve, we have a lack of motivated learners. This has to change. A job is no longer defined by a degree, so why learn? Schools should be an environment that celebrate all types of learning and that encourage students to learn in their way.

Not only this, but a teacher should be recognized as one of the most influential roles in this environment. They have the ability to sculpt the minds of these children into our future doctors, lawyers, and presidents. They have the ability to inspire students, making them ask, “Why?” instead of forcing such questions upon them. A teacher should be able to facilitate for all learning styles, as it is these styles of learning that will increase the boundaries of how we perceive the world.

A good teacher will reach the minds of students, but a great teacher can touch a heart.

A great teacher is able to find the genius in everyone. “Everyone is a genius, but if we judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life feeling it’s stupid.” This is a quote from Albert Einstein, a genius in his own right and he is correct. We live in a world that is turning into a fishbowl and we are beginning to drown in questions that we can’t answer. This is because we are teaching the fish, the people capable of seeing the problems in a different light, to fit into our idea of what is normal.

Why? Walk down the path when there’s a river that can take these fish to greatness? Variety and different ways of thinking are our most useful tool. We have the power as a race to look at things from different perspectives. Why are we cutting off the fins of our creative thinkers and forcing them to walk along a path where they’re struggling to breathe. They are losing their maximum learning capacity and more importantly, losing their creativity.

Don’t take my word for it. There was a book released in 1992 called Break Point and Beyond, and inside this book is a test you can take that determines whether or not you are classified as a divergent thinking genius. Of the 1,600 students, children aged between three and five who were tested, 98% showed they could think in divergent or creative ways by the time they were aged eight to ten, 32% could think this way. When the same test was applied to thirteen- to fifteen-year-olds, only 10% could think this way. And when the test was used with 200,000, twenty-five-year-olds, only 2% were classified as divergent thinking geniuses.

We’ve created a system that kills creativity. Ask a sixth grader to draw a bird. They will draw a lower case m, do it in kindergarten and you’ll get 300 drawings that may look completely different, full of that sought after color and creativity.

Imagine a world where instead of being pushed through a bottleneck, we push the boundaries of human knowledge. Instead of feeling stupid, we feel we have the power to change the world through inspiration and the variety we bring. Instead of climbing up a mountain, we swim down a stream.

School is a factory, a world where we’re all forced to sit in lines, put our hands up to speak, listen to a ringing bells and get a small 20 to 40 minute breaks. We don’t learn because we want to learn. We learn because we have to. We specialize education into different sectors of faculties. We still pump out graduates in batches, which we call year groups, and we grade our students with letters and numbers.

This obsession with statistics, grades and quantifying one’s knowledge is so obscure. Where else do we do this? Do we quantify love? Do we quantify sorrow? What number of letter represents your first kiss? How about your first heartbreak? What aspect of humanity is honestly, quantifiable? Sure, he may be bad at writing an essay on World War Two, but he may be able to tell a story that conveys an understanding of the hardships and despair that could put any essay to shame. We give letters and grades of quality to things like produce to the quality of meat, not the contents of one’s mind. We lock these creative thinkers in a box, where in the worst case, creativity is constricted until they are removed from the colors of creativity and met with the shades of grey.

Instead of having a set of keys to unlock their true potential, they have one key that opens the box and throws them into a world where they are taught to believe they are stupid, where they are the piece that doesn’t fit and have to change themselves to do so. If given the opportunity, schools can become an environment where all the avenues of education can be explored, when we can step off the forced path and find our own way, allowing new pathways to be followed. This is the only way we can move towards the future because here is a statistic that matters.

There are 1.9 billion children in the world and that is 27% of the world population, but they are 100% of the future.

Lachie is not alone in asking the question if our education system is fit for purpose

Why change the ATAR? The way we recognise learning contributes to the problem

How we recognise learning at the end of secondary schooling is important because it determines post school pathways to further learning and work and has a flow on effect into what we teach (curriculum) and what and how we assess young people at school.

The ATAR is the dominant representation of success in schooling. It was designed in an era where only 11% of the population attended higher education, and then most were from higher socio-economic groups.

Today, only 26% of university entrants actually use an ATAR to pursue further learning. It is not utilised in any other post school pathway.

In spite of this narrow utilisation, the ATAR has a disproportionate impact on secondary schooling curriculum and assessment.  Our school system is geared to ATAR outcomes even if these are not sufficient indicators of a young person’s potential for recruiters and employers. Source 

 

 

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

%d bloggers like this: