School isn’t teaching us how to live

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

As much as it pains me to say it, I’ve only just got my head around working the washing machine.

My final year of formal education is on the cusp of ending, yet despite the pride I take in getting up to this point, I’ve never felt so unprepared.

The image of a stumpy and naïve 12-year-old progressing into a more mature and equipped young man is what I’d like to see, although I can’t help feel as if this isn’t the case.

I hope I can say that I’ve lost the puppy fat and become more intellectually aware of my surroundings, as many other individuals my age have, although with regard to my naivety I haven’t come too far. I don’t know how finance works. I didn’t know that there were 30 human rights. I still don’t know what all of them are.

I have an advanced knowledge of semantic field theory, phonetics and the body-soul dilemma, but I still have yet to fathom the oven.

In preparation for university, I have found time to learn and improve on these at home, despite my revision schedule and work commitments. I am also thankful to my mother, who’s also found time in her work schedule and outside activities to help. My culinary repertoire currently includes a stir fry, an omelette and a variety of microwavable goods.

But although it is a morbid thought, I can’t help think that if I didn’t have a guardian who could make the time, my practical abilities would be dangerously lacking.

For children whose parents aren’t able to find the time, or for those currently residing in the care system, school becomes the only place of learning.

For some it’s the only place where they may feel safe. This might sound like hyperbole to those who, thankfully, have a fairly straightforward background. But it isn’t.

It might sound blatantly obvious to state that the overall objective of the education system is to educate. Once one looks past the irony it becomes evident that it only achieves this objective academically.

Another objective is to prepare young individuals for the future, although it seems the basis of that is to provide enough knowledge to be able to achieve employment, rather than efficient knowledge to sustain oneself. The solution isn’t too strenuous either – hour-long workshops or a practical skills day could easily be implemented among lessons or even during lunchtimes.

It’s not in my interests to scrutinise the educational system, but as someone who is about to leave it, I feel as if there was something missing. I’m grateful for my school years, but like anything else, there’s always room to improve.

It’s time that the education system accommodated a practical future, rather than just an academic one, especially when considering the vital role it has for children who come from unstable families or no families at all.

-- Michael Wyatt is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds