Thanks Max for taking the time to explore and articulate your thoughts on this fundamental issue.
My twin boys left their last school — they went to 4 in total — 5 years ago and I mainly felt relieved that it was over. Seeing their school education through the lens of their experience, I struggled to see the value of most of it. Interacting with their teachers at parents evenings mainly felt pretty meaningless — less about learning and more about performance.
My sons’ third school was an international IB school in Kyiv Ukraine. The IB education is broad and far more conducive to encouraging thinking, research and community than many national frameworks. However, as a governor, and then business manager, of the school, I experienced the challenge of meeting the expectations not of the children, but of their parents — fuelled by anxiety about their children keeping up with the curriculum in their home country. I often wondered what they believed to be the value of their children’s education. It seemed to be mainly about competition, staying ahead of contemporaries and ultimately being in the ‘right position’ for success in the conventional framework of the job market.
For me the key question you ask is “in service of what..?”. Surely not just to pass exams, meet targets, get a ‘good’ job? But rather to stimulate curiosity, a desire to understand and ultimately a growth mindset for life?