As some of you might know, starting up a social enterprise is pretty hard, but starting one while trying to complete GCSEs is even harder. Over the last couple of months I have heard the same thing over and over again, “Jamie, what you’re doing is great, but make sure that your work doesn’t get in the way of your school!” But the irony is that school is actually getting in the way of my work.
You might think I’m saying this because, like any teenager, I just don’t want to go to school. That may be true to some extent but I do think there are some valid reasons that I feel the way I do.
The biggest ‘inconvenience’ of it is just the sheer amount of homework that students get set on a daily basis. I hear adults complaining all the time about how “kids never do anything creative anymore” and “when I was a kid I played the guitar and had a job!” Well, do you want to know why that never happens anymore? Because we are all too busy sitting in our rooms at night, writing about why Shakespeare used a certain word. It’s like you’ve tied a runner’s laces together and then are shouting at her for not running fast enough. The education system should try to keep in mind that while we are young, we are developing our interests, passions and skills. The system should allow me to follow my passion and skills, not keep me from them.
Another thing that is blocking me is my school blocking the web. Of course I understand why they block harmful or unproductive things such as porn or weapons but what use is there in blocking informative locations like event sites, forums or even hosting sites and other useful resources? What bothers me most is that they aren’t only blocked during lesson time, it’s even in break time and after school! So, they have taken away most of that productive time that I may have at home with mass amounts of homework and then, even in my spare time at school, I am not able to do anything useful either.
Of course, its not hard to get around these blocks. Although my school blocks FTP, SSH, RDP, event sites (meetup.com and eventbrite.com), hosting websites, forums (programming and tech) and most social networking sites, there are countless ways to access them (even by someone who isn’t very “techie”). Even though these blockages don’t actually stop a determined student from accessing their content, they discourage independent learning and development.
“The national curriculum is a set of subjects and standards set so children learn the same things.” But if someone is ahead in a certain area (for example computer science), then why are they expected to re-learn the basic fundamentals? I’m lucky that I have CauseHub to challenge me to get really good at what I’m sure I’ll be doing as a career, but others who are ahead who don’t have something like CauseHub are at great disadvantage. In my opinion, the best way to learn programming is to watch tutorials online at your own pace and make loads of mistakes, not to be forced to sit down in a classroom for 3 hours a week doing stale questions and copying off a whiteboard.
I feel my situation shows gaping holes in the education system. If you know what you want to do, school cannot adapt to you and if you don’t know what you want to do, school doesn’t really support you in finding passions and interests that might inspire you. Until schools realise that their students do infact have lives and their own independent interests and ways of learning, I don’t think that we will be seeing many more young people doing creative, productive things or going out to solve world problems.