Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

A Throwback On Education… What Was Is It All For?

As a Fresher, it’s scary to think of this time a year ago. A level exams crept nearer and nearer and we were nervously waiting on UCAS confirmations of university offers and places. It is also scary to think of this time three years ago where our GCSEs were dawning upon us, keeping us at revision sessions after school and trapping us in 5 lesson a day. Its also incredible to think that 8 years ago, we were at primary school where the most homework we got was a few sheets of questions a week.IRV_1229

I come from a community in which education is, on the whole, discouraged. I am lucky enough to have a family who let me choose to stay in school and ch
ose my own career path. This was not the case for many of my peers where they are not given so much of a freedom. There was an attitude of ‘what for?’ ‘what is this teaching you of real life?’ This is possibly just one of the factors influencing the amount of drop outs of pupils from schools. Many other reasons for this can be students feeling that school didn’t ‘offer them enough’ or else pupils having to go straight into paid work. According to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the dropout rate from UK education institutions has increased for the first time in four years by six percent.

Even though GCSEs were more about recalling information rather than understanding, these smaller and formative years of our educational experience are crucial in teaching time management skills, responding to stress, keeping to
deadlines and also getting used to an academic environment. Without these seemingly tedious years, we are missing out on a chance to improve. Obviously, education is not for everyone but these years are important for finding more about ourselves as well as the beginnings of our subjects, even when they seem insignificant now that we are at university.

It is worrying that so many young people disappear from their school register at such a young age as 14. Chief Advisers of London Schools estimated that up to 10,000 teenagers across the country leave early because they believe school “has nothing to offer them”. A law conducted in 2015 stated that teenagers will have to stay in school or some form of training until the age of 18. Despite these laws, drop outs still are on the increase.

It’s the uncomfortable truth that the grading systems are not the fairest way to test pupils and it seems that the only way to get to the best kind of learning such as we receive at university, is to jump through hoops made by anonymous examiners and their very specific mark schemes. We are all different and of course, not one person learns the same way as the next. The quote from Einstein comes to mind; ‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’.

Maybe it’s time to see education, not as a way to discourage the fish, but to show the fish the water, and let it stretch its fins. As long as we are thirsty for knowledge and willing to listen and to work, we will succeed. Rather than think of school as a restriction, as so it seems the attitude towards education has become so, maybe it’s time to change it to a reminder that school is an opportunity that many people do not have the privilege to choose.