” I think i’m getting dumber”.
This is the statement my 15 year old son made to me one day after walking in the door after school. So my question is, what are ‘they’ doing to make him feel this way about his own intelligence? Why is my son no longer feeling capable? This is not the way he feels about himself outside of those school walls.
We send our children with enormous amounts of trust into these school domains that have become by law. We place our trust in allowing other people, to mould and influence our children’s own innate belief systems because we have been enticed into believing that this is the only way that they will be able to successfully make it out there in the ‘real world’. We have been led to believe that they are the better ones or rather ‘only’ ones who know how to provide them with the knowledge and experience that they are going to need. These notions are ludicrous. This is an old story. And it does not fit our world anymore. Parents are afraid to change it, children are becoming unable to stay within it.
I have seen children unravelling, questioning everything they thought to be true about themselves. I have seen their sense of worth be so diminished by this system that it’s frightening. Our children are never born into this world feeling about life or themselves in this way. So why do they get to 15 and suddenly feel hopeless? Why are they questioning their worthiness within the school domain and worse, then how they’ll make it in their lives outside of school? Suddenly this place that they have only ever known and trusted (because we said to) since they were five, no longer feels good to them? This place no longer wants them, if they cannot provide them with the highest scores, and grandest achievements and keep themselves from questioning anything. The school domain begins this subtle elimination process early, while young minds are still susceptible to easy manipulation. They question 14 year olds about what path they are considering taking in their educational futures? Are you staying or are you going? As if they are meant to be considering it at all? Aren’t they ALL allowed to stay? The system works out who is worth supporting through to the end and who should be sent packing towards other avenues. These avenues that are suggested usually feel to the students like the road the ‘dumb kids’ take. Of course, they aren’t but the fact is, that this is the perception that has been created by the system. The message isn’t even hidden, it’s said directly. [Maths teacher] Are you taking Maths next year? [15 year old] Yes Why? I’m good at Maths. [teacher] You might want to reconsider that choice.
The system is old, the story is old, it doesn’t work, it most likely never did. We are so far behind our children, that we can’t keep up, and they can’t sit still anymore. Conformity and confinement to uncomfortable conditions in rooms is cruel. Tables with hard chairs, textbooks and dictation is not working. Trying to control this situation with imposing punishments or worse medication to fit this dynamic, is unquestionably not the answer. The system cannot be reformed, the story must be transformed. Learning is innate. Learning and creating is a every human beings right, they will do this without force, if we let them. Possibly, it’s time to begin listening to these young minds and what they are wanting to learn for themselves, instead of dictating an outdated curriculum and insisting that it is what they will need for their future ‘survival’. How can we possibly even know this? We could instead be supporting their innovativeness and their desires to explore and create around their own interests. We could be assisting their learning by trusting them to know what supports it is that they need, instead of compelling them to abide by a support system that is failing to adequately support them anyway. If our education systems can move towards more agile learning environments with, student-directed programs rather than the enforced dictatorship we currently have; then possibly our young minds operating within these systems can begin to start thriving instead of merely surviving.