What IS the point of school?

What’s the point of schools any more?  Kids are socialites at 7, adults at 12 and doubting everything the teacher and the school stands for. Behaviour is questionable, deference is a quaint notion of a rose tinted past when teachers were head of the classroom and everyone knew and welcomed their places.

Curriculum is irrelevant and has been superceded by the Internet where children work out of their own curriculum and syllabus, perhaps blindly, perhaps intuitively, perhaps guided by who knows what – certainly things we parents and teachers know nothing or little about.

These are desperate existential times when all our purposes reasons and rationales have been thrown up into the air and scrutinised like never before. So what place the teacher? The school? The curriculum even?

For all that despair and deep questioning…there is still the essence of the adult / child relationship at the heart of the learning process – the adult / old knowledge can’t be swept away. There is history -culture – language – the other – to contend with.Stuff which resides in the old, the unfamiliar, the awkward, the stuff the young don’t / won’t access drily through the Internet and the fashionable modes of social networking.

What we are left with -.and what can’t be swept away in a tide of acronyms and text speak – is us – you and me here and now in real time and space and our awkwardnesses and misunderstandings.
What is the point of school, teachers, curriculum? To learn of the other, from the other; to socialise the unsocial and antisocial; to expose our awkwardnesses and differences and to acknowledge, value and celebrate difference and otherness.

No amount of befriending on facebook or googling the worlds ever expanding databases will ever be able to emulate the simple purpose of education and all it’s agents: the ability for me to understand you and you to understand me, in all our differences, three dimensional truths and multi dimensional complexities.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

2 thoughts on “What IS the point of school?”

  1. This is a rather flawed approach to ‘the point of school’ in that school is the domain of an education system that is simply failing to do what it is intended for – to educate. This article makes school out to be a social club rather than a place of intellectual learning. I’m not rejecting nor am I ignoring that aspect of a young persons experience within school, but this article has made it out to be the only reason we send our kids there in the first place. No, we send our children to school to learn skills that will get them by in life, so that they can become inspired by subjects that they will want to pursue.

    We are social creatures, and we will learn to socialise no matter the environment and so this argument that we need kids to ‘learn from the old’ and to learn how to respect differences will and should happen where ever they socialise with other people. At the football/rugby field when they join a team. Or perhaps at the drama class, the dance class, the musicians society… where ever they go to pursue their extra-curricular interests and hobbies. Or when they simply meet with friends… this socialisation is ongoing and inexscapable.
    – So is this really ‘the point of school’? Isn’t that alittle ridiculous? It is surely an aspect (an important one) of school, but NO!! I emphatically disagree that it is not the POINT! The point is to gain an education, to explore subjects and interests with guidance and encouragement, to become knowledgeable and skillful.

    The question now is is this what we get out of our schools?

    1. Hello aezen@msn.com.

      Many thanks for your thoughts and comments. It is one of the uncomfortable aspects of blogging that I can never quite tell whether my posts are getting read by anybody at all – and for all the stats wordpress gives you, they still don’t indicate who’s reading what and why. So its a relief to get some feedback that someone has been reading and has taken the trouble to respond. So thanks for that!

      My first response to you is that I don’t disagree with you; socialisation certainly isn’t the whole point of school. My point about the need to “To learn of the other, from the other; to socialise the unsocial and antisocial; to expose our awkwardnesses and differences and to acknowledge, value and celebrate difference and otherness.” is not about engaging in extra-curricula activities. “The other” in this context means anyone who is not like us; who has different knowledge bases and skillsets, different languages and different habits and customs: this would, for me, necessarily imply bringing different subjects and knowledges to the student through the essential relationship that students have with their teachers (and peers and families etc).

      By “The unsocial and antisocial” I mean school has to be about bringing us close, again, to people ‘not like us’ – who we might deem unacceptable, troublesome, problematic as they don’t fit our world view. This is more than just going to art classes but meeting new cultures, ways of being and different socialities than we are accustomed to. Again, all matters which can be brought to bear by rigorous, challenging educational content: and certainly not just through ‘hanging about with your mates’ at the end of a long hard school day.

      My point about the point of school is that they have to provide spaces. relationships and time with teachers and peers to bring all those matters to the fore. Whether our schools do that at the moment, again, is a question I would agree with you in asking.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write your feedback.

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