You can love learning, but hate school


Photo Courtesy of Freerange

A student writes on a chalkboard. “If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child,” educational expert Sir Kenneth Robinson said, ”they will learn without any further assistance, very often.” In Robinson’s Ted Talk “How to escape education’s death valley,” he described principles he believes will transform education in America.

When you have several tests each week, homework every night and the same boring routine every hour, burnout from school can happen rapidly. The harsh and stressful school environment has erased creativity and desire for knowledge off the board with an Expo white board eraser. 

School was once exciting when students were learning exactly what they wanted: how to read and write, or add and subtract numbers just like their parents did every day. Children felt excited to go to school because they knew that reading or doing basic math was going to be extremely important in their everyday lives. 

At one point, however, students got older and started learning to pass tests, not to succeed in everyday life. Education expert Sir Kenneth Robinson said, “Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite the power of imagination and curiosity.” Studying solely so you can memorize facts and fill in the correct answer bubbles on a test is not consistent with everyday life. For example, if your boss asked you to make a rundown of all the past year’s clients from memory, you would think your boss had gone insane. Jobs are about applying life skills, not being able to recall useless facts you learned in school. 

The pressure of schoolwork is also a factor that breaks down students’ innovation and creativity. From a very young age, students are overwhelmed with tests and grades. The idea is spread that giving the wrong answer or not grasping a topic right away is something to be ashamed of. The pressure to perform well on tests and show constant improvement leads students to take desperate measures, like sacrificing sleep for their grades or cheating. Later on in life, students may turn down opportunities that hold any risk because they have a fear of failure. Humans learn from their mistakes, but the school environment treats second chances like a privilege rather than an essential.

Curiosity still exists in high schoolers. We will Google something anytime we want to know something simply because the internet is so willing to give us answers. If one day education can have a variety of learning styles, subjects and allow room for self-guided learning, students will be more engaged than ever and will flourish is everyday life.