Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why Schools Generally Fail to Prepare You for Life

Was sitting outside the GP's surgery yesterday, waiting for DH to collect me, and was just deciding that this was the perfect moment to start feeling extremely sorry for myself, (the bench was very hard), when this gorgeous young man sat down next to me and a conversation ensued.

I immediately got in over my head on a skateboarding topic and must have looked a complete twerp; I spent the entire conversation wishing I had listened more attentively to Ds over the last few months. In a desperate attempt to move the chat to safer territory, we got onto the subject of his exams.

Something he said about his mock physics exam really struck me. He said that the question had been deliberately misleading: that it was impossible to answer it given the premises that were provided. It apparently took quite a lot of work simply to prove this. To be an A graded student, you then, without prompting from anywhere, would have to suggest a more consistent set of premises.

I have only just realised why exactly this was so interesting. This was interesting because it is so unusual in the school environment. It is almost always the case that in school you do not experience the problem of finding the problem in the first place, which of course, is what actually happens with huge frequency in real life. This boy's story seems to me to be the exception that proves the rule...that generally speaking, school does not prepare you for life in the round, because it spoon feeds the problems to you. What is more, these problems already have the right answers out there, which is also something that frequently does not happen in real life.

No comments: