In the following post, I argue my viewpoint concerning the statement above. I hope you enjoy reading it 🙂
What is education? I present this question to you with my earnest curiosity because its answer has remained unprecedented. A question that superficially appears so easy to decode with our effective education system, yet has fooled us with its ambiguity. Is it simply opening up a notebook; writing a date and a title; and answering questions 1 to 5? Is that what education is? If we are so adamant that we have cracked the code behind this question, why do we tremble in fear to expose our children- our future- to the real world? After all, the purpose of education is to prepare our children for the real world.
“I’m extremely worried about this generation’s children: they do not know anything about the real world! And by real world, I mean the outside! The world!” This was a vehement response by one of the participants of a survey that I carried out amongst my relatives, regarding the children of the 21st century. And I’m certain that you have encountered this type of cynical attitude towards the younger generation multiple times. And, why shouldn’t you? Because after all, it is true. As much as it pains my heart to shake my head in accordance with such painful criticisms, I shamefully do so. My dear readers, how many times have you spotted teenagers in complete awe of the beauty of this nature? Zero. You have not. Therefore, it is time that we allow our children to spread their youthful wings and experience what real fresh air feels like. The erroneous notion that they will have plenty of time to do this “when they are older” needs to be eliminated because they will not. The need to explore the world; the need to explore the magnificent wonders it has to offer; the need to explore the countless unopened doors; and the need to explore numerous lessons that have not been taught- and may never be able to be taught by the confines of a classroom- is indispensable. How grand are the Pyramids of Egypt? How magical is the Sundarban of Bangladesh? How enchanting is the water of Caño Cristales of Colombia? The answers to these tantalizing questions do not lie in the pages of a leather bound textbook, but rather so in the corners of our thriving world.
However, on the other end of the spectrum one might argue that by sacrificing the traditional method of education we will be severely depriving our children of experience of how to work in a professional environment. I asked five of my friends (who attend school on a regular basis) to sit still on a chair in front of a desk, emulating a classroom/professional work environment, for 15 minutes without allowing themselves to become distracted. And 4 out of 5 were able to do so successfully. Afterwards, I asked my older sister what this result reflected, explaining to her what the environment was like. Her response was that “it is a reflection of how dedicated and responsible workers they will be once they have entered the workforce”. Furthermore, how they will be the reason behind why our economy prospers. Now, I ask you this: what formula (that you were taught in school, whilst sitting on a chair) proves that having the ability to sit still on a chair equates to maximum productivity? After all, for a prospering national economy we would require highly-productive individuals. The real world demands decision-makers, adventurers and risk takers. Imagine: time wasted whilst sitting on a chair could have been invested in discovering another facet of the world that lay dormant in front of our ignorant eyes. Just imagine. Moreover, my Father always told me that “travelling teaches you patience”. I could not agree more. In order to be able to lead this world into the realms of prosperity, one requires the determination and willingness, which time spent hiking through the rocky roads of the real world can only teach you.
The mind of a child has no limits. Unless it is confined. The mind of a child has room for plenty of colours, explorations and lessons. By being allowed to experience education in an environment that thrives on their curiosity to explore will only cave pathways that inspire them. Our children will learn languages and not just be limited to saying, “Where is the cinema?” Our children will be adults, confident in their identity and bravery. Our children will be individuals who will know which is the correct path to take in the face of adversity. These are lessons too valuable to sacrifice and too priceless to be taught in the scribbled pages of a textbook. We must allow our children to connect with the world; not merely stare at it from a distance.
What is education? Is it in the confinements of a square room with rows of painted desks and chairs? Or does it await in the vast beauty of the real world?
Currently, I am a year 11 student in the UK (as of May, 2021) and carrying out a series of assessments for my GCSE qualifications. Note that I have said “a series of assessments” and not exams because I am a member of the ‘educational anomaly’ club, where the traditional format of exams have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus; therefore, we have to do assessments as an alternative. However, that is besides the point, but a little bit of context won’t hurt anyone. One of the areas of assessment is our English speaking, wherein we have the opportunity to deliver a speech on a matter of our own choice. Hence, the following piece that you will be reading is my speech, which encompassed the feeling of disappointment. I decided to post this purely because I had a really fun time writing it as well as delivering it so, I wanted to share it. I really do hope that you enjoy reading it! Thanks:)
What is disappointment?
Our ever so trusted ‘Cambridge Dictionary’ states the definition of disappointment to be “the act of disappointing; failing to fulfil the expectations or wishes of someone.” However, for me disappointment translates to be something a little different. Something a little darker. Something a little more heart-breaking. Something a little deeper. It is as though someone has taken a dagger, bathed it in bitter poison and stabbed it through your heart. And has left you with no absolution and in eternal gloom.
I have a close relationship with my Father. I share a considerable portion of my life with him: my thoughts, my opinions and my dreams. Therefore, his response to what I do, have done and my decisions possess a lot of meaning to me and perhaps ponder on my mind more than I would like to admit. Such an event occurred a few months ago when one could say my life had changed forever.
One evening my sister and I (but we don’t have to focus on her too much) generously offered to prepare dinner. We made chicken schnitzel– and that from scratch: butchering the chicken, preparing our own bread crumbs, baking chips and making a coleslaw as well! So, I’m certain you can imagine how incredibly excited I was to be serving the tenderly-prepared meal to my family, when at the peak of my anticipation, I very tragically tripped over a bump on our carpet and spilled all of the coleslaw on my Mother’s lap! Instant and well-cooked disaster, if you may. My heart was broken just like my dreams for a perfect family dinner. My Mother gave me a look that embodied the words “I will deal with you later” and left to clean her dress, and my sisters helped me to clean up the crime scene. A few moments later, we sat down as a family- amidst the absence of the much-missed coleslaw- and ate our dinner in silence. I thought that perhaps it wasn’t that much of a big deal, but that fallacy soon shattered when before taking his final bite, my Father looked me in the eye and said:
“I am very disappointed in you today.”
And left just like the morning sunrise does.
The rest of the night was like living through an endless storm. My mind restless and tears threatening to fall, I felt myself collapsing into something that I had not felt before. My Father had uttered those words with such terrifying conviction that I was defenceless and had no reply prepared. I could no longer fight it. I had disappointed him. And that was the truth.
I felt like an absolute failure not even being able to carry out such a simple task as bringing a bowl out to the table! If this was my state now, what will I do when I need to serve even bigger things in life? Fall and break my teeth? I imagined a bleak future stretched out in front of me. Ominous clouds against a perpetual black sky with lightning striking in my Father’s words: “I am very disappointed in you today”. I imagined myself walking, head hanging low like a criminal, holding a cold cup of coffee, the only source of light in my life being when I turn on the lights in my room. And even that not always turning on!
What was all this?
Why was I feeling this way? Whose fault was this?
Was it my Father’s fault for expecting too much of me?
No. It was not. And it never will be. You see, disappointment is a funny thing because it isn’t always about the fulfilment of expectations. We humans are always expecting one thing or the other. My Father has the right to expect things from me just as we have the right to expect the Sun to rise every day. My friends, disappointment is about love. My Father said such words to me that day, eye-to-eye, because he wants me to do the best I can in whatever responsibility I take on, whether it be climbing a mountain or simply serving a bowl of coleslaw on the table. And that day, my life did change forever because my Father very cleverly taught one of the greatest lessons in life. That being: to embrace the disappointment and use it as my drive to do the best I can.