How often have you asked yourself in class, what am I going to use this for? Indeed, just like every other student, we are asking ourselves constantly why am I learning this. Who cares if I don’t know how to use Pythagoras when I want to become a writer? Who cares that I don’t know how to spell when we have autocorrect?
As a student, I often asked myself, why? Once I entered units across different universities and faculties, I came to understand that taken sciences in secondary school was very helpful in anthropology and phonetics. However, I was inspired by this video of Prince Ea.
Prince Ea, born as Richard Williams, graduated magna cum laude for Anthropology at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. In his video, he accuses the school system of not changing along the many technological changes in the past century. I agree, that many ordinary schools are driven by a system that consists of assessment after assessment.
Especially in my field, English, assessment is one of the most time-consuming activities in the classroom. Instead, I rather see my students learn to collaborate, give each other feedback, support each other with their research and rely on each others’ strengths. I feel that my lessons have to be more about the skills that my students use the rest of their lives, instead of the content.
Not many people want to hire someone who can say that they have read Romeo and Juliette and other Shakespearean literature. However, students that can say they have worked together on a school production in which they adapt the original play might be more successful. I want my students to know that my classroom is not just about the content, it is about the skills. A character analysis is not about the character, it is about reading critically, between the lines and analysing their motives. These skills can later be used to negotiate any kind of contract. Students have to understand that here is where their careers begin. The difference is that I simply cannot fire you when they fail, but help them to overcome their weaknesses and fears, increase resilience, and further develop their strengths.
My view on education may be a bit idealistic, but without ideals, there is no motivation to change.
© Kirsten Bos, Miss Bos, 2017