SAVIOUR AND MENACE OF STUDENTS EVERYWHERE
I’ve been watching Jamie’s Dream School on Channel 4 recently. That tied with nearing the end of formal education (unless I get to do a Masters) has got me thinking about education in general.
The kids on Jamie’s Dream School have all been kicked out of school or had teenage pregnancy or simply not achieved anything at school. They also typify what is wrong with youth society and how education is failing young people. The emphasis is however on parents and early stage teachers to instil discipline in young people. I mean that in two senses. Indeed the detention / caning sense of the word where respect for elders, respect for each other, and behavioural manners need to be embedded in the young people. But also and more key in this age of internet and TV vying for attention and giving you something new to think about every 15 seconds, discipline of task. What I mean by this is being able to focus on one thing for a length of time without distraction and having discipline in persevering with a task that is unpleasant but necessary.
The lack of these qualities that I, and I believe the people I interact with on here, have thanks to good parenting and excellent teachers both controlling and inspiring us and our peers, is what is letting down otherwise bright young people.
The teenagers on JDS are arrogant, self centred, egotistical, ill-mannered and ill-disciplined. They lack any sense of decency and expect those things acquired through dedication, ambition and graft to be handed to them on a plate. I have a message for them. It doesn’t. You WILL be working in McDonalds at some point before moving onto work that you turn you nose up which is just as honourable as the high paid intellectual jobs such as bin men, road sweeps, sewage cleaners etc. If you have the nous you may become a successful business person but with interpersonal skills as abominable as they appear to be.
On a more productive level for us is what David Starkey said on the program. he took an old school approach and everybody needs someone like him at some point in their education. He talked about their issues intelligently saying they were clever but not bright and that the problem with the generation (and ours) is that they have so many distractions with phones, internet and television aside from the standard distractions of relationships, friends and whatever they bring that the definition between ADD and simple ill-discipline is becoming blurred. He said that these days many students lack the ability to apply themselves to a difficult task. He is correct and as such they never discover the high one gets off actually achieving a god-awful task.
I have to reteach myself Algebra, Differentiation, Integration and Logarithms from scratch, alongside applying this to some highly technical applied subjects and final year Economics degree level. I have 8 weeks. I am going to take a leaf from Starkey and turn off the music, sit with my textbook, some paper and a pencil and in the words of the Nike slogan. JUST. DO. IT.
I can do this safe in the knowledge there are too many teenagers and young adults in this country, that should really drop the Great from its name, that cannot do it or can but lack the common sense and discipline to realise they can and can therefore make something better for themselves.
The point of this is to try and let you, the reader, know about this focus and discipline in task issue. Stop being lazy and do it, and do it not just well but to the absolute best of your ability and maximise you ability. A guy called Ian Dryden (a quick google will show he coached the Australian ‘Awesome Foursome’ to olympic glory and the Cambridge blue boat to 7 consequtive wins) who was my rowing coach for 3 years, once told me “you can only train yourself”. This applies to all things. When he said that to me I was not doing the bench-press because I could only just press the bar without weights while all around me had very heavy weights on the end. I still ignored him then but the sentiment has remained one of the very few that haunt and affect what I do. Now is when I will put it to use and I hope you will remember it too. Screw everyone else you can only do it for yourself.
This brings me to my final point. You can only achieve something if YOU WANT to do it. Both words are key there. YOU: If someone else is nagging, forcing or dragging you through against your will you will not learn it and will not reach the top. WANT: if it is not in your heart, if you are not doing it of your own volition and if you are not doing it for your own sole benefit - it just won’t happen.
If you are currently doing something you don’t want to - stop doing it. If there is something you are desperate to do - find a way to do it. Now I must put a quick caveat on this, sometimes you need to do the unpleasant horse work to achieve the goal worth achieving. I don’t WANT to do the maths for its sake, I NEED to do it to achieve something I WANT to. I WANT to get a 2:1 in my degree, and WANT to understand my Economics modules better in order to do this. In order to do this I need the maths. It is a means to an end.
This is the key to education in general is finding what people want to learn to inspire them to want it. I’m not saying everything will do this or needs it. It is not until A-Level that these things are possible but the things taught up to the point where an individual has control are so key for laying down foundations on which to operate. Almost no-one enjoys Latin. A though the appreciation of language construction may hold the interest it is the thinking methods like those learned in maths and science that are of lasting subliminal benefit and lay the said foundations. This is where teachers are failing these days. They need to engage the students to achieve the early subjects’ means to the ends to give them the gift of being able to operate intellectually.
I hope this has made sense and imparted some ideas. Parents let down the kids by not inspiring decency and morals and teachers let down the children by not inspiring them to at least endure the subjects. The combination of this results in the problems we see in comprehensive schools by and large and in teenage society and gives them the bad rep. We solve these and we produce decent human beings. Aside from that the ideas of actually focussing without distraction on a task for length of time (which is rewarding in itself), training yourself (as non-one can do it for you), and having self propelled endeavour are those I am trying to impart.
Most of you reading this have big exams coming up, be it A-Level or University (and you first years please don’t subscribe to this “fuck it 40%” bullshit) and from the bottom of my heart, for reading this all through and anyway I wish you the very best of luck in the next 2 or 3 months. The summer isn’t far away - this weather is a signpost!