Issues with the School System

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Hello to my harmonious readers. For countless children going to school is a joyful experience that makes lifelong friends and wonderful memories. However, many children are also negatively affected by the education system. The way that the school system is structured doesn’t work for many students. It shouldn’t be a one size fits all scenario. In various cases, the schooling system causes low self-esteem, peer pressure, anxiety, bullying, and the feeling of not being good enough or worthless. While education is a necessity that should be available to everyone, perhaps how education is delivered should vary depending on the child.

As I stated in a previous blog (recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome), a primary school teacher bullied me. Regardless of the bullying, I struggled through school. I was a shy, introverted child. I enjoyed being left alone to do my assignments. However, because of my quiet nature, my teachers felt that I needed to be more outgoing. They urged me to speak up in class by projecting questions towards me on the spot, which made me feel even more reserved and embarrassed. Even if I knew the answer, my mind would draw a blank. When I got a question wrong, the teacher would scold me. Surely there must be a better way of encouraging children to speak up because when I was passionate about a topic, I would let my voice be heard. I wish my teachers had respected my uneasiness to be centre stage and let me speak when I felt comfortable and ready. Just because a child doesn’t stand up in class or isn’t readily able to answer questions doesn’t mean that they’re not listening to the topic or not participating.

When thinking back to my childhood, most of my memories are from school. I would be sitting at a desk wishing I was outside in the sunshine. Instead, I was learning about the science of why cookie monster grows (an actual question I was asked, still not sure of the answer, the teacher never really explained it.) you’re only a child once in your life. Should your childhood memories mostly be from school? As Frank so poetically said in Everybody Loves Raymond, “Look, here’s what life is. You’re born, you go to school, you go to work, you die. That’s it, that’s all.” Can you call that living? I spent most of my waking life as a child getting ready for school, being at school, and completing homework from school. You shouldn’t have to look back on your childhood and say that you spent most of it at a desk. Being a child should be an exciting, fun learning experience by being outside enjoying life, learning by actually living life.

I also struggled as my teachers pushed me to be better in all my classes.  It’s just not sustainable to be perfect at everything. Should it be expected of children to receive top grades in every class? I feel that you should work at being great at what you want to be great at. For example, suppose a child is artistically talented. In that case, it should be important to encourage and grow that child’s talent while ensuring they have a good basic understanding of other subjects rather than receive A+ in every class.

I felt that I wasn’t smart enough because I struggled in the classroom environment. I learnt better using my laptop, watching videos, or reading books rather than listening to a lecture at the front of the class. It shouldn’t be a one learning style fits all. Teaching should vary depending on the learning style of the student. Teachers also put such importance on test results that when a test rolled around, I was an anxious mess and failed to do well. Should your future depend on the results of a test?

By the time I reached year 12, it was like flogging a dead horse. I was so exhausted from being head deep in schoolwork. It didn’t matter how hard I worked; I could never get on top of it. In one day, I would have English, Math’s, Home Economics, Biology, History. By the end of the day, I would be knackered and have to complete homework from every single class. I could barely remember the lesson from my first class. Should it be expected of children to have so many classes in one day? What if students had only 1 or 2 main classes in a day and spent the rest of the time enjoying activities like gardening, reading, art, and being outdoors.

Also, receiving an A+ didn’t equate to what I’d learnt. It just meant that I was good at researching and memorizing information. Hence, the number of times I would submit an assignment and receive a good grade, but within a couple of weeks, I’d forgotten most of the information that the assignment entailed. Consequently, grades do not define how smart you are. So should letter grading continue when it doesn’t accurately measure what the student had learnt.

 I went from a class of 120 students in year 8 to being in a class of 20 by year 12. What gives? How can that be called a success? Not only that, but in my high school years, I felt like I was in prison, having to go to my classes in C Block, D Block and A Block. Those who did not follow the rules were removed from their classes and were relocated to separate rooms. They had their own lunchtimes as they weren’t allowed to be with the rest of civilization. We knew they were somewhere in the school, but no one ever saw them.

When I finally left school, I had no idea how to live life away from school. I didn’t know how to budget or pay accounts. The things I needed to know for everyday life I didn’t have.

Before leaving school, there were various occasions when my mum would request a meeting with my teacher to question why they had sent out a particularly odd project. The teacher would explain that it was in the curriculum and therefore needed to be taught.  However, what was in the curriculum couldn’t always be used in everyday life.

While the way the school system is structured works for many people, it’s also a nightmare for others. There weren’t many options when I was in primary school. All my parents knew was to send me to a traditional school. As time goes on, I hope a more diverse range of educational structures is available for students. That education is varied depending on the child. e.g., more online learning platforms, some schools that only do half days, removing letter grades and standardized tests.

Only because a child doesn’t cope well in a traditional school environment doesn’t mean that they’re intelligently inclined. We all have different skill sets that are better suited for different jobs. You cannot be great at everything, and that should be okay.


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