Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Educational System and Me: On Being Pavlov's Dog

You are an upcoming bright young psychologist, looking to replicate the earlier findings of your predecessors. You line up a bunch of your test subjects, and make them wait until you ring a bell, at which point they are offered food. You continue to do this for weeks - even years - on end, and notice that even the slightest ring of the bell sets the subjects off drooling, on their feet, regardless of whether there is any food there or not. But your test subjects aren't dogs. They're human children. And despite how you've gotten the results you needed already, you just keep doing it and doing it. You keep forcing them to respond to your conditioning, your rules and your psychological tricks, so they submit to you, and force-feed themselves with any information you give them, regardless of whether they wish to learn, whether they find it interesting or whether they find it useful. The school system, for me at least, was like this. Yes, I was born after corporal punishment and a plethora of horrors had ended. But no, it's not like I didn't suffer at all. You must know what the mind-numbing absolute boredom is like - the existential crises that appear on a monthly basis, where you wonder 'Who am I? Why am I here?" with only a "sit down and shut up" as an answer. Yes, work is the lowest and deepest circle of hell, and school is only one of the minor circles, for the less sinful of us.

"But estnihil, estnihil!" you say, "What should we do instead?". It's pretty simply, really: anything else. For the kids who don't want to learn, let them play about with tools and the like. Train them, AT THEIR OWN PACE, to work at an apprenticeship. Over years and years, they'll know everything they need to know, without any of the horrible rules and regimes enforced upon them. For the kids who want to learn, simply let them learn. Let a teacher help them with things in class, but for the most part, let them get on with it! Don't ruin the best years of kids' lives by forcing them to sit like zombies, waiting for the pain to be over. You owe them that, at least. I think homeschooling is probably the closest thing we actually get to this in real life - no outrageous demands placed on children (in most cases) and no useless information learnt, and most of all, lots of time to play! Most of my life at school has pretty much been wasted, you know - I spent most of my time learning the crap that they made you learn just to keep you out of your parents' hair. Until I actually started 4th form, having spent around a decade or so in the educational system, I had learnt absolutely nothing of use at all. Everything was either too watered down, had no relevance to GCSE/A Levels or was simply flat-out boring. But I guess, with work being the way it is, maybe I should have gotten used to it? Maybe school is useful after all, to prepare one for the greater horrors that lurk in the workplace. But I for one, would have rather slept my whole childhood away than have wasted it there.


  1. There is a movement called "unschooling" which I think has got pretty much the reality of this horror that is schooling.
    Democratic schools are also a vast improvement, although it's still schooling and it still follows the same imbecilic curriculum.
    Schooling is little more than an extremely boring version of child slavery. It kills mind, it indoctrinates children with the "right" answers, and it's pure evil.

  2. @estnihil: Wonderful blog! I only discovered it this morning and look foward to reading more. Keep up the good work. If I may make a suggestion, though, it may be a good idea to allow people to comment anonymously, as I don't think you have that facility enabled. Cheers!

  3. Found you!

    Frank Zappa once said that if you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.