Let’s face it, school presently is significantly more stressful than it used to be for the previous generations. The sheer amount of standardised testing and workload is enough to drive any sane person over the deep end (it often does). The baby boomers are always going on about how destructive the millennials are, while the millennials complain about the selfishness and greed of the baby boomers. It is not often that I criticise my own generation, but in this instance, I feel I must.
It blows my mind how strongly students my age and younger believe in decreasing the number of subjects they learn in school. I hear so many ludicrous ideas, such as having vocational secondary schools, where a student can learn carpentry and basic mathematics and English. Could you imagine raising a child in this technological age with only basic mathematics and English? It is insane to me that so many students strongly believe that they should be taught less information and not more. There are many flaws within the education system that disadvantage those of low incomes and learning disabilities. However, what we will NOT do, is lobby for less education.
Students complain that it is unfair for them to choose their career path in secondary school, because they barely know themselves. Yet, your solution to this problem is to make children pick their career path even earlier? Not to mention, how would you choose who gets to go to a regular school and who gets to go to a vocational school?
Through advancements in social studies, we’ve learnt that many children who underperform in school often have learning disabilities or problems at home. Are we really going to condemn children to a paltry education because of environmental circumstances?
Many people do not understand that an educated society will function better. Imagine if 60 years ago England decided to allow only one secondary school in St Vincent because most of the islanders were farmers and labourers. Why educate people if they are only capable of being labourers? What if everyone had that mentality?
I understand the frustration of being pressured and forced to take standardised exams. I’ve written about my own thoughts many times in this newspaper; I am no fan of standardised tests. However, that does not mean we should look to throw away the entire system. For example, if we compare the Common Entrance Exams from a decade ago to the present, we would objectively see a vast improvement in the methods of testing.
Imagine trying to vote for a candidate when you have no basic understanding of economics or governance. Imagine if we were being ruled by a dictator but we didn’t know they were a dictator because most of us never took history. There are many intrinsic benefits to having a proper education that we do not always see. Fifty years ago, a proper education for a Vincentian meant grade 6 level reading and mathematics. Fifty years from now, I guarantee the average 5-year-old will know basic computer coding. In order for us to move forward as a people, our educational standards must improve. As my grandmother says, education is the way out of poverty.