exams

2013 marks the start of Michael Gove and his education revolution. And much like most revolutions the leader and the rhetoric change, yet the injustice remains the same.

The Education Secretary has this year announced a number of reforms to the education system. Central to these reforms are GCSEs returning to an O level-style assessment in which coursework is replaced with a final exam at the end of a two year course, with the exception of science which will retain a small ‘practical’ evaluation. As well as changes to the structure of education in secondary school, a renewed sense of British focus has been prescribed for the history curriculum. Students will now receive a more extensive timeline teaching, of the Kings, Queens and decisive battles of British history, helping to invoke the patriot in our young fledglings.

The Royal Historical Society was amongst a raft of officials objecting to Gove’s reforms quoting; “knowledge of the history of other cultures is as vital as knowledge of foreign languages to enable British citizens to understand the full variety and diversity of human life.” in a scathing letter to the observer.

So in an age of increasing movement and interaction between people all around the world, Michael Gove intends to restore an old fashioned, outdated system of inward education which was invented to suit competing empires rather than competition in a world market. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland are proving the importance of vocational courses in preparing youngsters for the modern job market, yet Gove insists on reverting back to unrepresentative education based on a hierarchy of subjects.

Michael Gove however is not alone in his idiocy. For all over the world education systems adhere to the same underlying fatal floor; that intelligence and success are based around the same core subjects, maths, science, language and literature. This is not to say that these subjects are not immeasurably important. But that they must be part of an education system which serves to educate all sections of the population, rather than catering to the whim of the few, at the expense of the many.

The assumption often lays that education as a national system must date back to Plato himself. But the reality is that the education systems of today were designed to meet the needs of industrialisation from the 18th century onwards, rather than stimulate and encourage creativity. Sir Ken Robinson, who champions a revolutionary rethink of how we run our schools, once stated that “we don’t grow into creativity, we get educated out of it”, meaning  that children’s creativity is frittered away by an education system which is conceived by university professors in the view of creating university professors.

Within the hierarchy of subjects sport and the arts come firmly at the bottom and even a hierarchy within the arts can be seen as music and art are observed as more important than subjects such as drama. Yet all over the world sport and the arts lie within the heart of culture and represent the very fabric of what it means to be human.

How often do you hear the story of some of the most prominent people in your life were the ones that dropped out of school after they were made to feel they were not intelligent enough, or for misbehaviour; your favourite sportsperson that was told to sit still and diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, or your most treasured artist that was scorned for always scribbling in the back of their maths book?

So much talent is squandered in this way because children are made to feel inadequate due to the reliance on academic intelligence as the only form of educating. Children have that innate ability of trying without thinking of failure. By the time they have graduated school, that ability has been bled dry.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. It’s about time the education system reflected this.