‘Whoever said knowledge will set you free? Tell that to the kids who are forced—by law—to attend school for twelve years! Tell it to the counsellors who deal with the fall-out!’ he slapped his hand on the chair arm. ‘And where’s the evidence supporting school education? Look around—there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary: increased substance abuse, alcohol abuse, hooliganism, muggings, vandalism, greed, domestic violence, violence against teachers...’
Alistair went to say something, but Justin held up one finger.
‘Teachers are attempting to work the un-workable. Very few, if any, young people leave school with a net human gain...Most of them lose more than they can humanly afford. I intend to have my say.’
Alistair was nodding, eyes locked on Justin, fully engaged now. Loving it.
‘Thankfully most manage to rewire adequately enough...’ said Justin.
Alistair squinted, ‘Re-wire?’
‘Rewire, adapt, condition themselves?—it’s like self-hypnosis, we all do it to some extent. It’s achieved by partitioning-off large chunks of our individuality; large, fresh, unique, unacknowledged, unexplored, chunks of pure us!’ he tossed the card onto the table with contempt, ‘areas that do not sit under any of the categories on that card!
Clever, strong, beautiful or wealthy,’ Justin reminded.
He leaned towards Alistair, ‘children at ridiculously young vulnerable ages are squeezing their soft, square pegs into society’s hard, unyielding round holes and making them fit. They’re buckling-down—isn’t that the turn of phrase for making yourself do things you’d rather not?—and making themselves into the kind of people teachers and Parents—society’s front-line assault alliance—would want them to be.
Well-done the alliance! You’ve managed to collude successfully in taking bouncing, playful, ever-inquisitive, non-stop-questions, hungry-for-knowledge pre-schoolers, funnel them through the education system, and burden them with under-confidence, self-doubt and the belief that whatever they do will never be enough—they could always do better. You have installed the concept that learning is a chore not a pleasure.’
So many of these kids leave school with a low self-value because they were compared and didn’t measure up. Their self-confidence has taken a battering consistently applied over—not days or months, but—years! So, as a direct consequence, these kids (now adults) dedicate the rest of their lives to proving that they are winners after all, forever seeking that elusive praise they were spoon-fed so freely in their early years, seeking endorsements from Society that never really materialize.
We wonder why some kids join gangs, steal cars, vandalise...’
Alistair’s eyes grew wide, ‘you’re saying it’s the school’s fault?’
‘Where else can they find a salve for their wounded self-confidence if they don’t happen to be clever, strong, beautiful or wealthy?
They’re hurting the system that hurt them!’