Schooled, but not educated | Act Youth Force

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This series is in collaboration with Act Youth Force (Visit AYF) where we focusing on the write ups by different students write inspiring stuff. Read the complete series here 


“Education is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think.”
– Albert Einstein.

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Photo by Norman Toth on Unsplash

This quote captures the essence of the purpose of education. It should be about learning to think critically, to question, to analyze, to wonder, and to be open to all kinds of different perspectives out there in the world. However, the tragic truth of the world is that the education system doesn’t promote all of these aspects, but instead, serves to stifle them. 

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Photo by Markus Spiske on UnsplashMost schools, all over the world, have one central focus – grades and results. Thus, teachers aren’t focused on ensuring that a student understands the principles or the reasoning behind a concept. Instead, it’s all about what is produced on paper in the end. It is essential for schools to ensure that high results are achieved in order for them to have a strong standing in comparison to other institutions, and to be able to attract competent students. Therefore, they ask their teachers to focus on the direction which ensures that their students will achieve, but not necessarily grow.

The root problem here is that of priorities. The world, we live in today, values money above everything else and is seen as the end goal. Since schools are focused on increasing their profits over time, they don’t put the needs of their students first.

Education is an important factor in helping one understand how to live in the world and to interact in a positive manner with other individuals out there. Emotional intelligence is officially defined as, “The capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).” All of these skills are very important in enabling people to be able to function with other people and to communicate with them effectively. Since schools are focused on children experiencing intellectual development, they don’t focus on their emotional growth which can ultimately serve to stunt their ability to function effectively in the future. There are also a few attitudes which are necessary to be taught to students, such as kindness, compassion, open-mindedness, and respect. However, schools don’t prioritize these teachings, and students, as a consequence, remain ignorant.  

Additionally, standardized testing is perceived as the devil which acts against the intellectual development of students, as they simply become focused on competing against one another, and finding various shortcuts and techniques through which they can get a high score.

For example, the British O and A level syllabus are highly questionable because most of its subjects emphasize upon the reproduction of facts, instead of truly questioning and analyzing them. That’s why most students simply end up ‘learning facts’ instead of understanding why they exist, to begin with. Furthermore, this is seen as even more problematic, since every single student doesn’t start from the same point. Students have different intellectual capabilities, varying attention spans, and have diverse interests in life as well. Nor do they all have similar cultural capital during their childhood, thus some might already be more suited to the academic world in comparison to others surrounding them. This is very problematic because, through standardized testing, we teach children that their value is summed up in a number and that if they don’t do well, they’re inferior in comparison to other people. Not only is this untrue, it can also have severe long-lasting effects such as lack of confidence, or one having fewer opportunities in life than they deserve.

Ultimately, the current school and education system is a reflection of the world we are a part of, as it doesn’t prioritize the mental, emotional, and intellectual growth of individuals. Instead, we are all constantly encouraged and pushed towards negatively competing in life, and trying to outdo the people around us.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Schools can serve as a platform to change the behaviour and mindsets of individuals towards a healthier and optimistic direction. Additionally, students shall be the ones forming the foundation of society in the future as well, and if they are guided effectively, society will have a brighter future for itself. For now, a conversation has started, and there are a few systems which are working on these ideas as well such as in Switzerland and Norway. However, we still have a long way to go, and till we do, the potential of mankind shall remain unfulfilled.


Written by: Zobia Akhtar Cover photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

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