Why schools are failing

‘Industrial-era’ schools seem to be grossly under-delivering

You may be totally surprised by our assertion that the schools are not under-delivering! Schools, as we see them today, were the social invention of a fast industrializing western society to ‘mass-produce’ ‘adequately literate and numerate’ industrial workers out its largely agricultural populace.

To top it, the above goal was made ‘assuredly achievable’ by ‘not really working on the entire population of enrolled students’ and ‘just separating the wheat from the chaff’ to filter out the achieving students at the lowest cost and effort.

Students were ‘faceless entities’ and only those students who could rise above the ranks mattered to schools.

Schools are doing a good job of ‘mass producing’ adequately literate and numerate ‘fit-to-be-industrial-workers’. The problem is elsewhere. Schools are outdated. Schools are continuing to deliver the same in a very different time! Schools are efficiently producing ‘things’ which have no market anymore; the world is fast transforming into a knowledge society that demands ‘knowledge workers’. There is a world of difference between industrial workers and knowledge workers and the dissonance is getting shriller!

To sum, schools are near the possible best with respect to their (implicit) capability-by-design – nurture those who are ready to be nurtured. Going forward, schools need to become contemporary in their goals and come out of the ‘assembly-line model’.

Revelation for parents:

Schools were not created keeping the ‘benefits to all the children’ in mind. Leave your child’s education to schools at your own peril! Schools, across the world, without exception, acknowledge and recognize only the ‘toppers and achievers’ and that is embedded in their DNA.

Have you ever come across a school advertisement which projects the performance of the bottom 10% of the graduating class even if the bottom 10% has outperformed most other schools? We hope you understand it by now that it is not possible – that is not how schools think and act. Schools think only in terms of the top of the class (and if it extends, it may include the ‘average marks’ of the class)!

You may know another secret of school education: the only consistent pattern in the performance of students in schools across the globe is the quality of parenting. School’s impact on children is secondary to that of parents’ (and the neighbourhood community). In simpler words, children do well in school if their ‘parents do well at home’! Parenting matters a real lot!

What do ‘good parents’ do at home?
They either teach their children or enforce the discipline of ‘daily read, write and arithmetic’ at home, set to match with the academic cycle of the school. You go short on either of the two options and the school years of your children will turn waste and may even be hurtful for your children.

How school years may hurt?
To list just a few – the peer pressure, bullying, lack of focus onreading, lowered self-esteem due to teachers’ behaviour, denial of opportunities to play and entertain for failing to improve the ‘all important’ academic performance, the apathy at home towards the issues of bullying and lack of encouragement in school. However, the most hurtful part of school years is the most disguised – the cynicism it may fuel about the world and the adults.

It is not too difficult to imagine that a child ‘declared a slow learner’ will be scolded and denied basic dignity and wishes at school and home. Over time, the child is likely to grow with an ill-will against one and all – a significant contributor towards delinquencies among teens. In fact, a study of delinquent children discovered that the majority of such children live with their parents, unlike the popular belief that such children are mostly homeless. Poor quality parenting coupled with school education is the worst thing that can happen to a child; poor school education is without recourse. There are ways to avoid harsh family conditions but there is no escape out of poor school education (except, of course, no school education).

It is us, the parents, who are failing to do our part of the deal when we enrol our children in the institution called school; we are not responsible at home and seek fundamental changes in school towards taking 100 % responsibility of academic education, life skills education, value education and overall development of our children.

Schools essentially set the academic rhythm and context for all and in all fairness, and the ‘take-aways’ from the same for individual students are highly dependent on the educational context at home.

Of course, the school leadership is failing to live up to the professional standards expected of them in self-steering schools towards becoming suitable for the knowledge era.

‘A wise system of education will at least teach us how little man yet knows, how much he has still to learn.’

— John Lubbock

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