More and more, young people come to university and prospective employers with thick dossiers of certificates and commendations for the worthy activities with which they have filled their teenage years. We want sparky people with a fascination for how the world works and an ability to balance hard work and fun, but increasingly adolescence is seen as an opportunity to stuff a curriculum vitae.
Let teenagers have their kicks by David Bainbridge.
I sometimes worry that our education system, and the expectation of conformity and uniformity that it promotes, can stifle the creativity and imagination of young people. Between internal and external assessment and the myriad other commitments which occupy the lives of many students, the opportunity and the requisite space that creativity calls for is often hard to find, and altogether left for the individual to discover in their own time rather than being actively encouraged.
Indeed, if you took a wholly straight-faced, methodical approach to your education, studying in-depth every page of every textbook and revising after every school day, you would likely be very successful, as far as school’s definition of success is concerned. But to what end? And how can we expect everyone to enamour themselves with such a repetitive, tedious pursuit? We simply cannot. Not only is an education system focussed on grades and the accumulation of knowledge—as I suggest, at the expense of creativity—unlikely to ever enthuse the student body, but it also leaves students ill-equipped to deal with the many other facets of a working life, like communication and collaboration.
Yes, we need to continue to encourage students to follow traditionally academic paths like science, mathematics and technology, but it is my belief that we should do so in a way that promotes discovery and curiousity, rather than cramming and memorisation.