Education is a hot topic at the moment over here in the UK. It was only a few weeks ago that hundreds of thousands of students received their A level results; an event that must have made alcohol sales sky rocket! Much of the TV coverage is on the importance of achieving good grades and how children’s futures are defined by them.
Perhaps the most depressing image was a head teacher addressing a room full of cross-legged 7 year olds. He was preparing them for the time when they would have to make a decision about their secondary school and said that this would be the ‘most important decision of their lives’ and one that would ‘shape their futures’.
Good lord! How much pressure do we want to put on our kids?! With an approach like this, any kid that doesn’t achieve the desired grades is more or less being told that they will fail in life.
Yes, these decisions are important. Yes achieving high grades can open doors but there are so many other experiences that truly make our existence richer. Imagination, creativity, vision, communication, experimentation, passion, determination, cooperation and fellowship. These are just a few. It is no surprise that a recent study of graduate employers highlighted the fact that many graduates with high grades actually demonstrate poor ‘soft skills’. The skills that were most in demand – ‘interacting and presenting’ and ‘supporting and cooperating’ – were the ones that were most lacking.
The system needs changing. We need to create something that is flexible and inspiring, and one that actively seeks to uncover the talents and strengths of all children. And it needs to start now.