As A school pupil I must confess I was never top of the class. My report cards were littered with statements such as “disruptive and unwilling to learn” or “far too interested in being the class clown”. In fact by the time I was 15 and about to leave secondary education (much to the relief of several of my teachers) there were very few classes I even bothered to attend. Which meant I became extremely good at a snooker on the PlayStation. Well, there’s an upside to everything I suppose!
But seriously, my two favourite subjects were history and English, both of which really interested me and were the only classes in which I knuckled down. To this day both are subjects I continue to study. I learn a new word daily and never tire of reading about great men, women or events from our past. I often wish I’d had the same desire to learn as a youngster, though, when the mind was more absorbent and remembering things was that little bit easier.
I do have regrets about the way I used my school years, and it pains me to admit my mother was right all along. All those times she told me to behave, or do my best, and I never listened.
I attended my partner’s graduation last week, and as well as being very proud of her outstanding achievements, it made me think deeply about my youth and how different my life could have been if I’d been mature enough as a youngster to do things differently.
Not that there is anything wrong with my life. It just took me a roundabout way to become who I wanted to be before setting off on a path which will hopefully one day lead me to where I want to go.
The thing is I’m not the only person in the world who rebelled against school and there are many others like me who considered themselves the ultra-anarchist. The problem is, for many of these people who were troubled youngsters, life has failed to materialise. The lucky ones landed on their feet, the not so lucky are working in dead-end jobs which they hate for poor wages, or living off benefits and unable to find employment.
It’s these people that I feel the education system has failed, a system which I believe to be flawed.
Of course it’s right that we are all schooled and learn mathematics, reading and writing to as high a standard as possible. But if school was really about preparing us for life, shouldn’t secondary education to be aimed at building on our interests and abilities, rather than learning things we have no passion for? It begs the question: would I have spent as much of my four years of secondary school playing a games console, if I’d had the opportunity to learn more about things that interested me?
Granted, Arsenal Football Club weren’t on the curriculum, but if education was more broadly focused on the abilities and interests of individuals, then less people would be forcing themselves through a day’s work in mundane jobs which their talents far outweigh.
This may sound like an excuse, and I’m not saying that our education policies are to blame for high school drop-outs. There are always going to be lost causes, however, many teens who have failed to mature, become collateral damage and end up on the scrap heap. By giving youngsters a chance to learn more about their own abilities and tutoring them on their strengths and interests, I believe you are giving them a better chance to make their way in life.
But what do I know? I’m a dumb-ass who dropped out of school at 15!