Exam factories – it gets worse…

“Business leaders say some UK schools have become “exam factories” and are calling for children to be given a broader education.”

So says an article on the BBC education and family news website. (Read it here).

It’s something I’ve been saying for years. Schools have had to trash real education because of the misguided obsession of the government with grades. But it doesn’t matter how many grades you get or how much Maths and English we make a child do it won’t improve things. Because all this does is train children to lead school lives and not develop in them an understanding of how to lead lives outside school.

So, how do they lead lives outside school?

They have to take charge.

In schools, busy as they are with grade-getting, kids are trained not to take charge. They are told what to do, when to do it, what to wear, what to say. They are herded with masses of others and told to put up with the consequences of herded animals. They are manipulated to believe that nothing they think, say or believe is of any consequence unless it is exactly what schools want them to think and believe and relevant to ticksheets. And they are drilled in passing exams by the untrue threat that without them they won’t have any chance of a successful life.

Well people like Jamie Oliver didn’t get the grades but they seem to be doing okay. (Read his bio here)

School life is in no way replicated in real life beyond school. In real life we have CHOICE. And we have to make independent choices. We have to take charge. But the put-up-and-shut-up culture forced on kids by schooling, by prescriptive curriculum and by unnatural social clustering, fails to prepare young people to do this. Schooling as it is basically restricts children’s skills and their thinking – how can that prepare them for life outside school? And the more intensive and prescribed it becomes, the less effective it will be in preparing children to take charge of their lives.

Yet all the government can think of doing is making it more prescribed – a recent example; Latin and Greek are to make a come-back into primary schools (read the article here), as if that’s the answer to masses of children who haven’t even been parented well enough to understand the use of decent English and the impact it has on them being employed. We think learning Greek and Latin’s will improve that? It’s a joke!

It’s also a vicious academic circle that makes an elite few succeed but ill equips the majority.

But it isn’t only schools that are to blame. Parents are as much to blame by subscribing to it but I can understand that, as a result of the system themselves, they have also been trained to believe it is the best way forward.

It may be the best way forward for some. But not for all. There are other ways forward. Thank goodness for home educators who are proving it. The most successful thing about home educating being that children are educated in real life.

‘Home’ educating is a bit of a misnomer. For the children are mostly not cloistered in the home as the name suggests but out and about in a real community, with real working people and families, with a wide social range, learning real social skills by speaking and interacting, taking part in decision making about their education and their lives, having the opportunity to question and think thus developing the mental skills to tackle real life as well as pass exams, and learning how to take charge of their lives as people in life do.

This is why home education is so successful. Because children lead real lives, not just school lives, and are all the more skilled, competent and intelligent for doing so. That’s what we need of schools. Not exam factories.


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