It comes as no surprise to most people that the UK’s education system is failing its students. With rising mental health problems in teenagers, it is clear that the ‘all or nothing’ exams do not help to calm the tensions that surround a child’s education and the constant pressure to succeed.
How is it possible to brand a child with a letter or number based on their performance in a three-hour exam? All of the years of work and dedication to a subject all boil down to a single exam. Any number of things could mean that a student cannot perform at their best on the day of their exam, making this system completely defective. It is impossible to grasp how much a student has understood a subject by forcing them to sit a glorified memory test. They are given perfunctory answers that they need to learn off by heart and slot into the correct questions that are usually regurgitated every 5 years. By completing enough past papers, it is easy to recognise exactly what an examiner wants you to say and when. What skills are these kinds of exams teaching students?
The government has so carefully curated the secondary school syllabus that it has removed every ounce of creativity from learning. The exams do not allow room for students to offer alternative interpretations of these subjects. Students are not encouraged to question what they are told. They are spoon-fed information that they are just expected to accept as true. We can even go as far as saying that the syllabus has been manipulated in order to create a certain narrative to manage the opinions of students. This can clearly be seen through the syllabus’ portrayal of the British Empire and the restricting of English Literature texts to only British writers. The scope of a student’s understanding of different cultures and political situations across the world is hugely limited by this lack of representation in the syllabus.
Upon leaving school, students have minimal life skills. They are not taught how to handle debt, how to rent or buy a house, or how to manage daily finances, which can cause catastrophic difficulties for many students in the future. Many cannot even cook themselves a simple and healthy meal. The education system does not prepare its students for living in the real world. The messiness of university could possibly be avoided if students were taught a few simple life skills, giving students more time to find themselves and get to grips with their studies.
Overall, it is time for us to change the way and what children are taught in schools. The syllabus needs to be more diverse, allowing students to be more aware of cultures that are different from their own and create an environment that nurtures sensitive young people. Exams should either be scrapped completely or mixed with coursework giving students that struggle under the high-pressure conditions of exams. Students are in desperate need of support from us since their government is failing them.
Image courtesy of Kyo Azuma.