Recently, I started a new job as a teacher. I teach Maths, Science and Personal Development at an Education Centre for kids who’ve been excluded from school. Though I’ve always had a heart for working with young people, this new role comes as somewhat of a surprise because I’ve always been adamant that I did not want to be a teacher. I felt it was a job role that was boring and shackling. I felt it was on the opposite end of my aspirations to be a recording artist – so I ran.
However, as I eventually became the artist I wanted to be, I ended up running straight into the path of teaching! What I thought would have to be an either/or decision, has now become two sides of the same coin. My gift for mentoring and building up others is now being sharpened through my musical AND teaching journey.
This new turn into teaching has got me reflecting back to my early school years. One main aspect of my role is lesson planning. Each session has to have very clear objectives. Preparing these objectives makes me think of a broad question – What are the main objectives of school? When a student passes through the system, what should they ultimately gain from it? In other words, what’s the point of school?
For most of my school years, I understood my main purpose was to be doing my homework and passing exams. I was led to believe if I did not get good exam grades, then I would not go to a good secondary school, sixth form or university. This meant I would not get a good job and wouldn’t make enough money, and so I would end up a failure in life. I also heaped on myself the extra pressure of not wanting to disappoint my parents and the rest of my family. So I pushed myself…and did well for the most part.
But it was during my university years; in the midst of a degree I lacked passion in, that I had an awakening. I saw myself on a production line of clones, being prepared to go out into the world and spend the rest of my life doing a job I did not enjoy, to pay bills and then die. I thought to myself, there has to be more than this! I eventually discovered that more in my suppressed childhood intrigue in creativity, along with my desire to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Following my passion for creativity saw me on a journey that involved exploring worlds such as video production, writing, spoken word artistry, event planning and presently teaching.
Having experienced several years of life after school and now being back in the classroom, but on the other side, here is what I believe are (or should be) the main objectives of school:
To help you communicate
How well can you string words together? This goes a mighty long way in the adult world. Can you write a CV, a cover letter, a professional email, etc? Do you have good phone manner? Can you express yourself confidently, clearly and effectively? The strength of what I call your ‘word game’ has a strong implication of how seriously you are taken in the post-school world.
I was led to believe if I did not get good exam grades, I would end up a failure in life
To help you use numbers
Maths is pointless! How are you ever going to use this stuff in the real world?
These are thoughts we’ve all had in school as we had to use Pythagoras Theorem, plot graphs and work out what ‘x’ was. Let me tell you this; live a little longer and you will see exactly how wrong those sentiments are! Maths is everywhere. If you need to earn money, don’t want to be in debt and have savings for those things you like, you’ll need to know how to plan and budget. You’ll also need to understand how things like tax affect how much you earn. Having a good grasp on numbers puts a certain level of power and independence in your hands when it comes to the quality of life you can enjoy.
To help you discover and develop your passions
What are you passionate about? What are your strengths? What are your talents? If you are so gifted in certain areas, why not explore and discover how far you can develop in them? You never know, you could stumble upon a most fulfilling (and even lucrative) career. It could unlock something powerful within you that aid you on your life journey. Education should be about searching out these passions and providing a space to develop them to their fullest potential.
To help you problem solve
If you can ace exams but don’t have an ounce of problem solving ability for real life challenges, then school has been a waste. When your car breaks down or your job lays you off or your rent increases, you don’t answer an exam paper that will magically solve everything for you. The true goal of studying for those exams was to develop a sharper and more robust mind. When a problem presents itself, do you immediately break down and give up or do you take a step back and think out the box (pun intended) for a solution?
To help you never stop learning
Lastly, school should fill us with a never-ending wonder and intrigue for the world we live in. Our experience of it should teach us that the learning never stops. We are forever students in the classroom of life. Taking this stance puts us in a position to continue growing and becoming better versions of ourselves.
To those of you still in formal education, I hope that the system is building you in these areas. However if it is not, remember that it can be an imperfect system. It is run by people like you and me who make mistakes. But you don’t have to be a spectator. You have an active role to play in your education. You can take charge and be proactive to make sure you get the most out of what’s on offer.
To those in their post-school era, remember as long as you’re alive, there’s always time to continue growing. It’s not too late to develop in these areas. Take that time out, take that class, watch those tutorials, reach out to someone for help, find a mentor, etc. Whatever you do, don’t stop learning.
Till next time.