The sad thing about education is that by the time you realise what it’s worth, you’re too late.
A good friend suggested yesterday that I watch a thought-provoking YouTube rapper/rhymer with a knack for picking holes in the fabric of Britain’s education system. I did, and I’d like to share him with you too.
Sulibreezy, as he calls himself, makes an interesting point in his latest video: do our parents and teachers even know what they are preparing us for? I’ve already covered this, to an extent when I looked at the Unicef report. But Sulibreezy does it poetically. Watch the video, then I’ll pick out a few points.
“In her whole adult life she has never used or applied Pythagoras’s Theorem, pathetic fallacy and still does not know the value of ‘x’.”
True. Google “jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago” and you’ll get a ton of results. Most of them make the same point: how can schools prepare kids for the world of work when it takes minimum 11 years, sometimes 16+ to teach them, and the world is changing so fast. Google is 15 and Facebook 9. Between them they employ over 40,000 people.
“How many times have you remembered something five minutes after the teacher said ‘stop writing’ only to receive the results one month later to realise you were only one mark short of the top grade. Does that mean remembering five minutes earlier would have made you more qualified for a particular job?”
Or, more likely: why did you not spend an extra five minutes reading that research paper and five minutes less on the phone to your girlfriend/boyfriend? Answer: you probably didn’t understand the value of that five minutes at the time. Sadly, it defines you. This is injustice, and I wholeheartedly agree with Sulibreezy. You could be the best employee a company ever had, but if you don’t have the grades, they won’t even let you through the door.
“We all have different abilities, thought processes, experiences and genes so why is a class full of ‘individuals’ tested by the same means?”
Because it’s easier than testing them all by different means. No, you probably won’t use 90 per cent of what you learn at school, or even university. But have you thought about what you learned? School and university is not about teaching you facts. Facts are on Google. Education is about teaching you how to learn, how to be resourceful, how to manage your time, how to express yourself, how to negotiate, how to criticise and analyse. These are the skills that are important at university. But, and here is where I agree with Sulibreezy, exams do not yet fully reflect that. Many courses still put a lot of emphasis on memory.
I once had an argument with my university lecturer about that. I complained that his exam was just a memory test. He turned to me and he said “so one day, when you are an expert in your field and your BBC interviewer asks a question, what will you say…’one minute, I need to check on Google’?” He was trying to make a point, albeit flippantly, that sometimes having the background memorised gives you an instinct, a perspective and a framework.
“This is for my generation. The ones who found what they were looking for on Google, the ones who saw their dreams on Twitter, pictured their future on Instagram, accepted destiny on Facebook.”
I once heard Twitter referred to as the place we go to enjoy the illusion of work.
Evidently, having good grades is not required for success. But often those 16+ years of education are a prerequisite for getting your CV read.
Bottom line: We can lament the way we are quantified and reduced to a single piece of A4 so that employers can fit us in the shredder, but Sulibreezy, find me an alternative.