BY SOFO ARCHON
Children come out of the womb with an inborn desire to better understand themselves and the world they live in — they desire to explore new perspectives, to discover different realities and make sense of existence. But why is it that later on, once they become school students, most children begin to lose interest in learning? Why do they feel bored in classroom, are uninterested in reading books, and in general hate school?
These are some questions that I am going to answer here, with the aim to shed some light on the negative aspects of our education system and provide suggestions on how it can be improved, for the benefit of the new generations and hence the future of humanity.
Suppressing Children Through Schooling
When I was a school student, I was feeling very unhappy. I wanted to spend my time outside in nature and play with other children, but I was forced to stay for hours upon hours every day in a small classroom where play was out of question. I wanted to express myself through art and sports, but I was made to sit down learning math, history, and other things that I couldn’t care less about learning at that age. I wanted to communicate my thoughts and emotions with my peers, but I was told not to talk or move unless I was given permission first. What I loved doing, I was not allowed to do, and what I hated doing, I was forced to do. No wonder I was so unhappy.
In most places around the world, school is a very traumatic experience for the majority of children. Children from a very young age are sent to school, whether they like it or not. There they usually have to be confined in a room for 6 to 8 hours every weekday (except on holidays) for about 12 years of their life, to obey rules, to follow orders and to learn things they are not interested in. What children truly want is to have fun, to play, to communicate and form social connections, to explore the great outdoors, to ponder and create — and barely any of those things they are allowed to do in school.
School, as you can understand, is suppressing children in all sorts of ways, which is turning their life into an ongoing hellish experience. So how can children not hate school? It’s only natural that they do.
Education as Indoctrination
Although school is supposed to be the place where children learn to think and become wiser individuals, in reality school is preventing them from developing their critical thinking.
At school, an authority figure (i.e. teacher) is hired to have students unquestionably accept and repeat in a parrot-like fashion what they are being taught by him/her. Those students who do so are rewarded with good grades, while those who choose to think for themselves are being punished with bad grades or by being expelled from school.
I remember once, when I was a high school student, I took the courage to openly disagree with the opinions of my religion teacher. She was teaching a class on world’s religions, but being Christian herself, she provided us students with biased information. She would do her best to talk in a negative way about all other religions in order to prove the superiority of Christianity. When I presented her with some solid arguments against the Christian dogma, she soon afterwards started to treat me as a bad student, by giving me lower grades and talking to me in a disrespectful manner. All I tried to do was to raise questions and use critical thinking, but to her that meant questioning God, which she thought is an inappropriate thing to do.
At school, students are not taught how to think, but what to think, and the difference between the two is tremendous. Instead of learning how to utilize logic and come to their own conclusions through critical thinking, school is stunting their intelligence by filling their minds with information they have to accept on belief alone. Not surprisingly, once students graduate from school, they are so indoctrinated that they cannot make intelligent choices in life and deal with the challenges they encounter along their life’s journey.
Rethinking Our Education System
If we don’t want our children to be mindless automatons, we need to start thinking differently about our education system. We need to start searching for ways to help children grow into conscious, healthy adults, instead of repressing their emotions and killing their intelligence — which is what schooling is currently doing. In order for this to happen, however, we first need to realize what the true meaning of education is.
Education is not passing exams in order to get a certificate and find a well-paying job — it is cultivating the mind and spirit in order to find health, happiness and peace. Education is not the imposition of opinions and ideologies of the elder on the youth — it is mastering the art of thinking critically and acquiring the ability to process emerging information. Education is not memorizing knowledge — it is developing understanding and learning how to put knowledge into practice.
Up until now, the role of school has been to force students to fit into the mold of what we consider normal living. To be normal in our sick society means to do work that we hate doing, to doubt ourselves and be afraid to think for ourselves, to blindly believe in dogmas, to bend down in submission to authority, and to follow orders — in short, to live a life of ignorance and pain. It’s about time we realize that school’s function should not be to adjust children into an unhealthy society, but to help create a healthier society instead, starting from the children themselves, who will form the future of our civilization.
The purpose of schooling should be to provide children with the tools that will enable them to develop to their full potential on multiple levels — emotional, intellectual and spiritual. School should give children the freedom to express themselves, evolve their talents and assist them in the creative process of acquiring essential practical knowledge and skills. Most importantly, school should be the place where the needs of children are being understood, accepted, and taken care of, so that children can grow their wings of consciousness that will allow them to chase their dreams. Then, children will no longer hate school, but, on the contrary, they’ll love it and embrace the learning experience it offers.