By Max Carey
Over the last 50 years, so many aspects of life have evolved, from technology to the way we live and think. But, in this fast-paced evolution of life, there is one aspect that has seemed to remain stagnant, and that’s education.
Our society as a whole has vastly transformed in a number of ways. This has had a rippling effect on the way we operate as people and the options and paths that are now available to us, and the education system simply hasn’t kept up.
In a world that now embraces creativity, individuality and collaboration in all forms and mediums, we’re still being made to compete against each other in a system that prepares us for tests rather than life itself.
“Creativity is currently undervalued in our education system”
The purpose of education is to prepare students for the world of work, to help students achieve personal growth, and develop skills and attributes alongside the acquisition of knowledge, problem solving and the desire to learn from others with different races, views and opinions.
“Creativity is currently undervalued by our education system. We are a nation of educational snobs like no other,” explained Tony Ryan, Founding Director of Dual Hemisphere Training Limited. “Our best achievers are packed full of students from the top 20% of socio-economic groups and social mobility in the UK is at an all-time low.
“This is at odds with the crisis of business leaders who need creative, flexible, adaptable problem solvers able to take the initiative – not academics crammed full of knowledge with straight-line solutions to every problem.”
“Everyone is expected to do the same thing”
Students venture through their young lives constantly getting told they are underachieving in a system that is simply letting them down, and setting them up for failure, not taking individuality into account.
Tom Stockley, youth worker and former fine art student at Falmouth University told Truthfal: “Everyone is expected to do the same thing, which means we all end up with the same qualifications and the only people who benefit are the business people running our education system.”
With Gove’s latest education reform that plans to send a bible to every school in the country and to make more state schools teach Latin or Greek, it doesn’t seem that the system is really preparing students for the real world. And this is from primary education all the way up to university level.
Tom has felt this first hand: “My preparation for the future (and I don’t think this is an isolated example) was spending time with fellow creative students, local artists and some advice from tutors.”
And this is nothing new. Creative courses across the country are being cut to make way for more generalised courses that do more to create self-doubt in students than to give them a true career path.
“By teaching more generalised courses from a young age, it discourages students to take a more creative route and creates uncertainty for them in terms of a careers path, making them feel useless or not good enough,” said Ryan.
In fact, it has been proven that the time in a person’s life where they reach the end of their tenure of higher education is a worrying one for most, triggering what is known as a “quarter-life crisis”.
In a system that only prepares students for tests and constantly gives pupils the feeling that they are underachieving, this is not unusual. It’s a point of uncertainty in life where the thought of entering the real world is a daunting one to say the least, due to simply being unprepared.
“It’s up to us to push ourselves and carve a career in the creative world”
In addition, the Mental Health Foundation found that 50% of mental health problems in the UK are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24, and this could be due to the pressures inflicted by the unknown and not meeting the expectations of the system itself.
“It’s up to us to push ourselves and carve a career in the creative world, but I don’t think the Uni can take much credit for that,” said Stockley.
“For me I’m doing what I do today partly because of my disillusionment with education (Secondary and University), so I guess I have them to thank for that!”
As a nation, we perform about half way behind countries such as Finland, China and Estonia. Finland has an experienced learning curriculum which focuses on problem solving and places an emphasis on encouraging students to take ownership of their own learning.
Teachers must have a 2:1 degree minimum and have to agree to study for a master’s degree also, whereas Gove will be happy to have unqualified teachers teaching our students and preparing them for the “future”.
“Teachers are possibly the nation’s most undervalued graduate workforce”
In places like China, students have very structured days and teachers generally teach 1-2 hour lessons per day and then use the rest of the day to plan their lessons; giving them time to think about what they are teaching and the best way to teach it.
Ryan said this is different to here in the UK, where some have claimed teaching is ‘the most undervalued profession today’. Teachers in the UK teach anything from 4-6 hour days and planning is at a minimum (about 8 hours a week) with expectations that all planning and marking will be done outside this “scheduled” time. “No wonder so many lessons fail to hit the mark.”
“The key issue that affects staff delivering the best education for all pupils/students is the shortfall in funding,” says UNISON’s Head of Education, Jon Richards. “Even allowing for the £1.3 billion pounds that have been diverted from other parts of the Department for education’s budget into schools, with inflation and increased costs, schools will still see a 4.6% real terms funding cut between 2015 and 2019.”
These statistics are worrying to a system that already has its downfalls. It’s now up to our government to look at this problem from a fresh angle and try to better the system for all those that it has already failed in order to create promise for the future generations to come.
And Tom puts it best: “No one person can solve the vast and complex problems of education, but I think we’re making a good start by contesting what we know is wrong and looking towards alternative ways to educate ourselves.”
This animated short film by Daniel Martínez Lara & Rafa Cano Méndez explores how creativity can be capped and instead should be embraced. Watch below: