The educational system is essentially built to provide us with an education, consisting of handpicked subjects selected by the institution. When I think of my educational years, from the age of 5-16 I was always reminded of how important education was. During these years success was often associated with getting good grades, if not you were often praised for your efforts. In school I was very cheeky, I liked to have fun do and as I pleased until I got to year 11. This was when I felt immediate fear, by the end of year 10 I began to think ‘I must get good grades’. This fear drove me to study day and night because I was always reminded that without good grades, I would not get a good job. Being young I thought my world would come to an end if I did not get good grades, essentially I made myself believe my grades would define me. When applying for my masters last year I pulled out all my educational certificates, and laughed to myself. I did not get straight A’s but I did not do poorly either, but the realisation was my grades in the end never defined me.
During my teenage years I used to be apart of a theatre group, I loved to dance and sing. When it was time to sit my GCSEs I remembered telling myself I would have to stop dance, I had this growing fear that it would impact my grades. Although I was passionate about dance, I no longer wanted to explore my creative side as it would not get me ‘good grades’. I began to view all my creative hobbies as distractions rather than an activity which could lead to a career. I struggled at times when it came to studying during school because I tried so hard to learn the way I was taught. This is not to put blame on anyone, but it is important for teachers to understand that everyone learns differently. I, always full of energy, sitting down for an hour listening to someone talk at me was not my style.
I always wanted to try new things, maybe listen to music is class which some teachers did or make posters which summed up the topic. However, if this was not something the teacher wanted to do it meant we were not going to do it. I began to notice that being different was not accepted, in other words creativity was not welcomed. It was like a constant battle, I would go to lesson bored out of my head stare in to space knowing I would not regurgitate any of the information. When I began my A levels I began to notice that studying became a lot more independent. Because of this we all found different ways that worked for us, in my Economics class we often had discussions which I loved! This gave us an opportunity to discuss our viewpoints, opening our minds to different perspectives which would certainly help when sitting our exams. Although this may be seen as standard, our teacher was aware of we worked and continued to teach in this way. This developed my desire to learn in different ways, I also studied English Literature and adopted this approach with my classmates.
This topic came to mind as having two younger sisters that find it difficult to follow a rigid framework reminded me of my young self. One evening I found my little sister finding it difficult to write an essay, I had noticed she had tried to use a framework given by her teacher. This framework was not working for her, which made her frustrated leading her to believe she was not capable. Now I know my little sister has a mind of association, she loves to talk and I often find she will talk about different topics which linked to the previous discussion in some way. I mentioned that she needed to do a plan before she began to write her essay, she stared at me blankly and said ‘I know Bonita, my teacher gave me this thing but it makes no sense’. I have a mind of association too, and very quickly I understood why she had been getting so frustrated. She wanted better grades, but time and time again she was given the same framework to work with.
My little sister loves to sing and dance, but this was not seen as a subject she should invest time in. Although the secondary school has dance as a subject, this was not something she even considered as she believed it was not respected. This has unfortunately had an inevitable impact on her desire to dance around the house, she now moans about studying and how badly she wants to do well in her upcoming mocks.
This is not to say all teachers do not try to help their students individually, but when you have 30 children in a class it is arguably impossible to do so within an academic year. However, it has come to my attention that we must allow and encourage children to think and work differently. Every child is different, and it is important to understand that creativity brings out the best in all of us!
Regardless your profession, we all interact with those younger than ourselves. It is important to deviate from rules and social norms, as one could argue educational institutions suppress creativity. It is our responsibility to raise positive awareness on individuality to the younger generation, as this can often be seen as a negative.