I have been a school student for the past 12 years out of my total age of 15. Over the years, I have enjoyed my time in school and have interacted with different kinds of people. I have made many friends who will be with me for life. I agree school life is great in some parts, but it also has its flaws.
In this article, I outline a few flaws of the school education system, which also serve as the reasons I would like to move out of it in my pursuit of ‘unschooling’ myself.
Let us start right here.
1. The missing “real” education – At school, we are taught subjects, most of which may not come in handy while facing real life situations unless we want to specialize in fields like medicine, engineering, or mathematics. It often fails students who wish to become writers, painters, dancers, and similar such fields that a lot of students may have passion in. Plus, real life skills are rarely taught.
When I unschool myself, I can learn things that I believe are really required in my life. I can get enough time to read the books that are outside a school’s curriculum, and spend time on learning things that interest me much more than, say, chemistry, math, and physics. Unschooling is a challenging task and I can learn a lot of life skills like how to face challenges, think critically and creatively, how to deal with mistakes and failures, and most importantly, learn how to learn that is never taught in any school.
2. No choice of topics of interest – In a school setting, all students are made to study the same subjects irrespective of their interests or choices. Students’ choices are not given much importance and the school almost forcefully teaches subjects that may never benefit a child in any way unless he or she has a real interest in them.
As part of my idea of unschooling, I will get to choose the subjects and topics I wish to learn. I will have the freedom to choose my interest areas and learn whatever I want to.
3. It’s all about rote learning – As per my experience, there is no real learning that happens in a school setup. Students are taught to only mug up things and are expected to do this perfectly to score top grades. Everyone is expected to memorize things and throw up everything in the exam papers irrespective of the fact whether they have understood anything or not. What is worse, if a student has understood the subject well, but has written the answers in his/her language, the teachers are rarely impressed and their marks are deducted for not writing exactly what the teacher was looking for. I believe this is not the right way to assess a student’s knowledge.
While unschooling myself, I can study topics of my choice in any way I want. I would not need to mug up things as my main motive will be learning something for the sake of learning and not for getting grades. There will be no other judge of my learning except for myself.
4. Grades are everything – In a school, everyone is taught that grades are everything. There is nothing else except grades. If someone does not score good in his/her exams, then he/she is considered a failure and looked down upon. A person’s learning is based on the grades he/she scores, which I believe is a wrong way of judging someone’s abilities. It is seen that a piece of paper decides everyone’s life and that is the end.
While unschooling myself, I would be out of this race for grades. I will be under no pressure to top an exam and that I believe should lead me to learn things without any fear and with a positive attitude.
5. Comparison and humiliation is rampant – Schools are where comparisons begin in our lives. There is a lot of comparison between good and weak students. Everything is judged based on their academic performance and not on the co-curricular side or how good someone is individually. People good in studies are expected to be great. Teachers often humiliate weak students in front of the class as if they have done something insulting the school’s reputation.
In this cycle of comparison and humiliation, children often become rebellious doing no good to themselves or others. Most of the “teaching” time is spent by teachers commanding, blaming, scaring or scolding children instead of actually teaching something of value.
While I would not blame the teachers entirely here given the deadlines of the syllabus that they need to follow while managing 30-40 students in one class, I believe unschooling will provide me a better grip of my learning time and my abilities. Plus, I would be out of this cycle of comparisons and humiliations. My competition will be with myself and not someone else.
Before I end, I would like to clarify that my idea of leaving school is just as a way of coming out of a system that does not suit me in my pursuits of real learning. The school may have its share of positives, just that after spending 12 years racing for grades and no real learning, I wish to move out of the system to create a learning life of my own.
In pursuing unschooling, I would be the master of my destiny and that would also give me the opportunity to hold myself completely responsible for all consequences that would follow.
It’s quite a liberating feeling!