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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Why School is Soul Destroying

I have a lot to hold against school at the moment. I completely understand that it's so important and I'm eternally grateful that I have been given high quality education, however I believe that the school system in the United Kingdom (and most likely elsewhere) are doing something wrong.

On the 13th August, Years 12 and 13 received their grades which either determine a place at university or will shape the predicted grades for universities to see. Obviously there are other options, which I will touch upon later.
To me, it seems as if examiners are purposely failing students. If a student was one or two marks off the higher grade, it felt like they revelled in the student's unhappiness and refused to be slightly more generous. If the exam is entirely subjective, such as English (and in my case, Drama) it appeared as if the examiners remained biased to their own views and gave a lower grade than students deserved.

Whilst I find that incredibly annoying, there is something that is bigger than this that I'd like to focus on. School is ruining the fun of education. I have two personal examples to justify this point...

I have two wonderful psychology teachers who manage somehow to keep my class motivated, educated and their love for the subject shines through them and radiates onto us. One of these teachers appears to stay true to the value 'learning for learning's sake' - studying a subject purely for the love of it. In lessons, she frequently shares genuinely interesting facts, to which she is met with blank facial expressions and the same question is posed:
"Will we need this for the exam?"

Do you see how damaging this is? When you think about it, we're supposed to study the subjects that we love, when soon the love will be replaced by the robotic routine of absorbing information and regurgitating it all over the exam paper. There's no time or brain capacity to learn for enjoyment, which is deeply saddening.

My second example follows the way that my practical AS Drama exam went. Our teacher had told us to 'use the inspiration' of a practitioner and apply it to a script of our choice. My friend discovered an unusual and intriguing script, which we performed to the style of 'Epic Theatre', as developed by Bertold Brecht. No-one else had done anything like that at school. We worked for hours during and after school every week, organised rehearsals out of school and worked solidly at school on this performance.  Both of our teachers helped us with this performance and constantly gave us praise for our work - we were sure that we would get top marks. It took over our lives. At social occasions, my friend and I would vent about how annoyed we were with the others the whole time and we would regularly rehearse our lines (and everyone else's, obviously). We were examined by the moderator, who was also being moderated, and one of our teachers.We performed our hearts out and were proud of it. This was the first time in ages, if not forever, where I felt self-confidence, both in the theatrical world and in real life. 

On the 13th August, we were greeted with a letter 'B' on the report card, rather than the A that we had hoped for. And I know that a B is a great grade, it was just heartbreaking because we expected too much. Our teacher later told us that the chief moderator decided that our performance wasn't "Brechtian" enough. 


We were too creative.

Our performance didn't get a high enough grade because we were creative. In a creative subject.

To me, this is not okay. I am not talking about my grade anymore, I am speaking of the fact that students everywhere are having the creativity sucked out of them like a vacuum and then come university and adulthood, when we are allowed a little bit more wriggle room to be inventive, we can't. We have been trained to be machines with cloned brains, not allowed any freedom to be ourselves.

Right, I think I've had a long enough vent! I had been intending to make this post since that eventful day of the 13th August, but I couldn't write it for weeks and then, once I did, my internet was being very temperamental and I eventually forgot about this post. I need to get all of this out there though - not so that everyone can read my problems with school, but so that people can take this and be reminded to maintain their creative energy aside from school. This is why my friends and I created this blog, write poetry, songs and perform.

Thanks for reading,

-LF, LR and MG