On real learning

My son is seven years old and the other day as I picked him up from school I overheard two mothers of kids in his class talking about Secondary school choices. They had started thinking about higher education even though it is at least four years before their kids are eligible to attend. I hadn’t even thought of what to give him for dinner – am I a bad parent?

Thinking I was missing out on some big opportunity I too started fretting to the point of looking up league table results and school reviews as soon as I got home. Four long hours later I now know what the best schools are (according to the stats which to be honest do not make much sense to me but anything over 100% has got to be good right?), where they are located and how many pupils they take in each year. I am ready and equipped to put my son in the best school possible, thereby ensuring his future academic success and most likely his entry into the best job pool in the country. I patted myself on the back for a job well done and put my top 3 schools choices in a file marked top secret on my c drive, (a skull and cross bones added for effect.)


As I tried to relax afterwards I thought back to my own school days and I remember leaving the education system with good grades and a degree but I didn’t feel prepared for life. I basically didn’t know shit! I had academic sense but not common sense. I could get good jobs with top companies and I looked great on paper but shouldn’t school prepare you for much more than that?

Where are the subjects that teach you how to think or how to function effectively in a world full of others? Or subjects that teach you about the world as a global village and your role in it? Back in the day to say you were a learned scholar, meant that you had studied a selection of topics deemed necessary by the Ministry of Education. Based on the political scandals we read about all the time, I question the wisdom of that… If I could choose today what I want my son to learn it would go a little something like this:

  1. Mathematics
  2. English Literature
  3. Theology
  4. Philosophy
  5. Foreign Language
  6. Politics
  7. Music

I would choose these subjects because I would want my son to come out of education well rounded and at ease talking about a range of topics. Mathematics is the cornerstone of our civilisation literally, numbers tell amazing stories and allow us to measure. Measuring means you have an idea of an object’s value, scope and presence.

The written word lives in a world all of its own. It is important to know what has been said before for to know is to understand someone’s mindset. Theology and religion, because they are the number one reasons cited for starting and sustaining wars. Philosophy because it covers a wide range of topics like existence, knowledge, truth, beauty, law, justice, validity and mind. Languages, because the world as yet does not speak in just one tongue. CONTINUES AFTER POLL

Politics, because through this we learn how to debate, lead, maybe change the world and how to spot the bullshit played out in front of us everyday by politicos the world over. Finally music, because music is a beautiful thing that resonates in all of us. You only have to look at the global pain felt by music lovers all over the world at Michael Jackson’s death to see how completely music trancends borders.

Armed with this education I would encourage my son to travel the world, experiencing things for himself and drawing his own conclusions. Then I would be happy for him to get a degree – once he is sure what he really wants to study instead of joining the mass production of workers that the current education system really is.

Maybe Pink Floyd was right…

I know that the education system is unlikely to change dramatically but I can fill in the gaps by making sure that my son has access to the millions of books out there, the internet and through travel. As parents we have to take responsibility instead of leaving our children’s education completely in the hands of the system. Who knows, maybe we can even learn something along the way, after all learning is a lifelong journey.

Join the global conversation and leave a comment.


One Response to “On real learning”

  1. Adrienne Kleyn Says:

    Most of us are not sure of who we really are thanks to the education system. We forget to use our own intellect, our own intuitive thinking to define the best route and method.

    We are not taught to believe in who we are and most of all not taught to be the cause in the matter of one’s life. Rather we choose to believe what the educators say, thinking they know better.

    In learning who we are being in what we are causing is the beginning of wisdom.

    My choice would be that my child know they can believe and trust in their own intellect, intuition and their physical body right from the very beginning to make the right choices or path that best expresses them.

    Sent with love to the rest of us in learning how to best express who we are without fear!

    Adrienne Kleyn

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