07/11/20 – 12 years wasted learning Maths

So this is the 7th day, first week done. We’ve so far raised $1,191 of our $1,500 goal. This means 35 people will receive sustainable clean water all because of me and my friends. That’s amazing, makes me feel really proud.

So, I was reading my friend Thomas’s blog which is – lommy.medium.com. He’s very funny, goes to Oxford and lives in France. Anyone who doesn’t know him has probably constructed an image based on what I’ve just said, I’ll bet my house on it being so far off you wouldn’t believe. He’s a top guy. But yeah he was talking about the process of learning instilling values in us so whilst we might not find practical use for everything we do in school we learn values from them such as hard work, punctuality, critical thinking etc. See I agree with Thomas I don’t think you could deny that there is an underlying life-development class happening during all school hours. Where I take issue is that you won’t use these skills practically and I don’t believe that’s the way it has to be. For starters, it’s completely stupid to force 100% of the population through at least 12 years of training to become an academic just to develop their thinking. Academia is a field of work the same way Labour and Commerce are and what percentage of the population do academics make up? Fuck all. Like it doesn’t need to take that long and there’s nothing to say that what you’re learning about can’t have a practical use to the child. I work in a primary school and there are some children that you could guess what they’ll go into as adults. Be it a trade, office work, maybe the arts or tech for sure. But you can tell because different children have different strengths and it’s so evident to me that some are wasting their time learning Maths and English. They won’t use correct grammar when they’re older and why should they even have to? Grammar is another academic program used to suppress those with lower level education from expressing themselves. It’s a barrier to entry, it’s the thing I detest the most about academics, this sort of snobbery that you can’t be in the circle unless you speak like them. It’s ridiculous, we don’t converse like that so why the hell should we write that way? Have you ever read an academic paper and midway through been like ‘This is just barely English at this point’. The language is so complex and so academic that it isn’t even enjoyable to read. Anyway my main point is that although you can’t necessarily identify a child’s strengths you can identify their weaknesses and it’s my belief that through a process of elimination children should slowly start to drop off subjects and things they aren’t good at. This way it allows them to focus on their talents to develop them, they’re doing something they’re good at which is the best motivator and they don’t have to feel like shit every time they get a maths question needlessly wrong because they actually will never use it. So I did 12 years of maths to develop my analytical thinking? But I was shite at maths and my analytical thinking has always been good and is much better than other people I know who are class at maths so what the fuck is that about? No, 12 years is too much, I knew I was shit at maths as soon as I hit first year. English is a subject just fraught with snobbery, it’s inherently snobbish because again, it has been used by the highest tiers of society to control and gag the masses. It’s like the world’s biggest VIP section and I’m sick of it, those who are good at core subjects excel in school and those who aren’t don’t. But those who aren’t good at core subjects have so many other talents that there’s no outlet for for at least the first 12 years of their life. Imagine what those 12 years could do to a child’s confidence. It’s so needless.

OK so I’ve identified a problem now what’s the solution? Well yeah about that, it’s pretty hard to come up with a replacement for the current school system because it’s been given a century and a half to engrain itself on society and hunker down to seem like the only option. It’s not, I have no solid plans and I probably never will but here’s what I imagine. I like to imagine a trade school or a tech school or an academic school. Your child would need to be sent by the government though because if you gave parents the choice they’ll push their children to the most money not to their child’s strengths. Maybe they could take a series of aptitude tests at the end of P7 or something and that could stream them to a school. But anyway all these job specific schools could be teaching children from the age of 11 the trade that they’ll do for their lifetime. Can you imagine if you could intercept a kid who has no interest in school but is great with their hands? You intercept them and put them in a labour school, where they learn all the different trades for the first 3 years, then they choose to specialise in 3 for a year, then 2 for a year and then 1 for their final year. After this they’ll have been training to be whatever their chosen trade is at the end of it for 6 years. Best of all they’re only 17 at this stage which is the perfect age to go out and be sent straight to work because they can. They’re skilled, competent and confident in themselves and their ability. They feel useful rather than useless. I worked at a summer camp in August there and it was definitely a strange feeling because I was showing up to do something I know how to do and I know I’m good at. I’m good at working with kids, I know that now and for the first time I was showing up to a job fully confident in my own ability. Fuck it felt great. I imagine that’s how our kids could feel if we spent time nourishing their strengths rather than constantly reminding them of their weaknesses.

To kill any counter arguments I’ll say this, take a class of 30 kids and test their English and Numeracy ability in P1, when they’re 4 by the way another disgrace but maybe another day. Anyway test them in P1 and rank them in two separate tables Maths top to bottom and English top to bottom. Then in P7 get the same 30 children and test them and rank them again. You’ll find that it’s usually the same 5 children at either end of the scale. That means that you could identify in P1 that that child would struggle with maths and still forced them to do it for 6 years. It’s really fucking stupid when you break it down like that. Anyone who works in education shouldn’t get offended by this by the way, they should be motivated to change the system so they can do the maximum amount of good.

I’ll close by saying this, education is the single most important thing in government, you’re moulding the future of the country and the influence schooling systems have on every single other aspect of life. The opportunity for change is always there for those ballsy enough to take it.

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