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Is Education Important?

Sep 15, 2008
One of the trends in the area of education is to lengthen the time students must stay in school. The reasons for this have been varied, but how valid are they compared to the value of independence, which is one of the attributes that comes from practice.

The ACT Government (Australia) recently released a consultation paper outlining proposals for raising the ACT's school leaving age. I want to say very strongly that compulsory schooling for students over 15 should not go ahead, not in any country or system. Why encourage dependence on the opinion of a limited number of significant others such as our teachers, no matter how good they are and predetermined subject coverage? Why should students who feel a failure in the school system be forced to continue with subjects that reinforce their negative feelings about their self worth and abilities? It is time we started valuing the great range of abilities and skills needed in the world and not placing so much emphasis on writing skills compared to oral skills and production skills (as in essays and assignment) compared to leadership and innovative business or selling skills, helping others or creative skills.

I have 3 children, two did not do Tertiary subjects and one went to university and managed to get some A's even though she did not appear to excel in her school subjects. The other 2 passed their non tertiary college subjects and have since done exceptionally well in their work fields. One has outstanding skills in the area of personal presentation and relationships - she is a social person and loves working in human resource management and is now earning nearly as much as me and I am a 'degreed' teacher. She completed her year 12 certificate at 17. She did not need another year at school! The other child is a performer and has leadership skills enabling her to succeed in initiating and enthusing others to perform. Like a "trade union" leader she was able to influence a group of performers not to take part in a festival until they were paid for the promised previous years performance. She is not interested in the ability to earn money and has enjoyed being a WOOFER, where she can do meaningful work and benefit the world. She finished her year 12 certificate at the age of 16. Should she be forced to stay in school longer?

I love teaching but at present no school system that I know has the resources and teachers trained in a big enough range of these other areas to cover all our students. At college we do not have a subject called "selling skills", "helping others", "leadership" or "serving skills" apart from being small sub sections of other subjects. In Australia the UAI is not god even though many strain for a high one in a system that tests in order to rank all students, and many people value it above other qualifications, devaluing the non tertiary subjects.

Lets move towards a system that acknowledges the worth of every person, for everyone has abilities that this world needs. There are many examples of people who have succeeded outside the school type subject areas....in money making areas for example and in helping others. Please do not work towards or agree to forcing our young people to do what they are miserable doing. Surely 15 years is enough of that. If they haven't done well in those subjects in that time, more time is not what is needed! If you continue doing the same thing, you are more likely to get the same past results.

Education is not education if it is compulsory...it is only schooling. Do we want to force round pegs into square holes or star shaped pegs into triangular holes? Are the skills and abilities we are forcing our children to have through schooling the best for their lifes work? What we value today may be tomorrows trash so lets free up a bit and widen our horizon.
About the Author
Jennifer Kathleen Phillips is an award winning artist, teacher, published poet, artist, writer, webmaster and has published 5 books. She graduated in the top 5% of university students with a degree in education and also holds other qualifications including a Diploma of IT. citwings.com
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