Does education really educate?

Education is undoubtedly one of the most powerful tools available to humans.

Saturday, 20th February 2021, 10:00 am

It not only nourishes the curious minds of children across the globe, it also stimulates the creation of ideas, which can revolutionise the way the world works.

Qualifications are now a conventional by-product of receiving an education, with a key role in defining a person’s capacity to fulfil certain roles in society.

As education has evolved, however, qualifications have become the sole focus of many educational institutions, with the entire process becoming a system comprised of testing and memorisation.

Mason Kellett
Mason Kellett

This is a very primitive system lacking the complexity to properly determine the capabilities of students with the added ‘small” cost of transforming a child’s key developmental years into a stress-filled dystopian reality.

Qualifications are still an important aspect of education, however the process in which they are obtained should be heavily modified. Doing this would not only produce better results from students, but better students in general.

With our current system, the curriculum provided by exam boards consistently malnourishes students from deeper thought into their subjects, requesting instead that students develop the ability to retrieve information from the provided resources and regurgitate it on to a standardised exam. This requires minimal understanding from students and taints the purity of their curiosities.

By changing this system, students will be able to maintain the spark of curiosity which has resided within them from their childhood and perform much better in their studies. With the focus of education being on genuine education, the constant ticking clock of the ever-approaching exams would no longer restrict the thinking and discovering of those in schools.

School students being handed their GCSE results last year in a socially-distanced way

By maintaining the motivation to learn, education will produce an army of confident and happy people, excited to make their mark on the world. Surely, this sounds like a more optimistic future than the one we have currently been making for ourselves.

Furthermore, the ages we are while attending school contribute heavily to the state of our minds as adults. Neuro-development is heavily affected by the stimuli we are exposed to – especially during out developmental years.

People who remain curious and regularly learn typically perform much better in life than those who do not. This is because their brain – much like a muscle – is strengthened through the desire to learn.

For many, their untapped potential is the sacrifice; replaced by the unmotivating and monotonous task of ‘learning’ at school. This crushes their interests and blinds them to their potential.

A GCSE student being congratulated by his mum last year

By changing the way we achieve qualifications and by removing the inefficient and illogical process we have in place right now, a student's desire to know more will become their most valuable asset and will ensure that their minds receive the knowledge they crave.

Consequently, students leaving school will not only have a lifelong qualification, but also a lifelong love of finding things out, and isn’t this what school should truly be about?

Initially, the concept of changing this ancient system may sound too daring; not refined enough to provide any genuine benefit. This would be the case… had it not already been tried and tested by Finland.

Swallownest Primary School assistant head Matthew Webb delivers books to pupils Mia and Lillyanne Astle during lockdown

Finland has made a series of ambitious changes to its education system, resulting in much happier and more successful students. Firstly, the standardised testing system deemed paramount to a student's education by so many other countries was removed completely.

The focus of education shifted towards guaranteeing that students received a good education, with a heavy focus on happiness and curiosity during childhood. They also closed many private schools, meaning the children of the upper class would attend public school and bond with all classes of society.

In addition to that, any funding from upper-class parents previously invested in private schools went towards public schools, decreasing the amount that schools were bottlenecked by their limited tax funds.

This ultimately resulted in joyful and successful students who would not only have good careers, but good lives.

In conclusion, our educational system is, without a doubt, flawed. Any conceptualisation involving logic, facts and sketchy ethical and moral compass points towards changes to the system.

The system is currently defended by statistics that measure the performance of students – such as the maximum attainment 8 score increasing from 87 to 90.

Although this seems like a benefit, the statistics are not drastic and only account for how well a student performs in exam conditions, which have shown to outbalance the benefits by a long shot. We have seen changes from other countries and the problem in ours.

The key to a good education is not developing our ability to recite facts but allowing us to have autonomy and develop ourselves in any social or educational scenario.

Isn’t this truly what education should be about?

*Mason Kellett is a Y11 student at St Pius X Catholic High School