Broken Education

My school recently visited a university to learn about the student life. We were told about how student loans would work, as well as how we would apply. We were then taken on a tour around the campus, and we were taken to a show flat in the halls of residence.

When I was at the university, they mentioned that a lot of the good universities won’t give a student a place if they don’t have good A-Level grades. This got me thinking. I don’t think I’m an idiot, but I don’t think I did too well on my AS exams. I probably did alright overall, but at the same time, I’m not expecting anything higher than a B and two C’s when I get my results.

When I chose the AS courses I wanted to take, I didn’t have time to put much thought into my choices. I ended up choosing math mechanics, physics, and music. I didn’t know what would be taught in the different classes, and as it turns out, I didn’t make the best choices.

In London, I spent several years in special education, and then I went to an international school, where students were taught International Baccalaureate courses. I found the IB too demanding, as I was expected to learn a foreign language. I ended up leaving London and taking A-Level courses. Because of my educational background, I never had the chance to get any GCSEs, and that caused a bit of confusion.

I find it very hard to learn a subject if it is boring, and if it is taught at a fast pace. I also have a lot of trouble understanding something I am told if it is abstract, or if it doesn’t have any real life examples I can appreciate. To some extent, if something can’t excite a child, it can’t excite me. A lot of my AS classes have those problems, and they are probably the main cause of my low grades.

University costs a lot of money. The courses cost £9,000/year, and that’s not including textbooks and supplies for the course you take. When someone goes to university, they have to get a loan from the government, and after their course, they have to pay off that loan over the next 30 years.

I think the system for student applications needs to improve. A personal statement can’t be any longer than 4,000 characters, and I read somewhere that UCAS doesn’t even read all the applications they receive. It seems like most universities are looking for great students, but they can’t really be bothered to read anything more than approximately how well you did on a few tests.

Student ambassadors told us that attending university was meant to be a fun and overall positive experience. This reminds me of when I was at the international school. My class were introduced to Theory of Knowledge, a subject that all IB Diploma students are required to take. The teacher said TOK was a fun subject, where the class would have interesting debates. Two weeks later, they had us writing essays.

School teaches every child in the country the same subjects for free, and after 12 years, you can choose a few subjects you want to carry on with. Don’t get me wrong – The way the world is run, everyone needs to be educated. However, at the international school, I had to sit through over a year of history and geography lessons. I want to have a career in software development, and for that, I don’t think I absolutely have to know all the political details of World Wars I and II.

I understand that not every school in the country can have teachers for every subject of interest, when only one or two students might want to take some of those subjects. To solve that problem, I think each school in an area should focus on a key interest, and let most of the other subjects be optional. I think it can be done, and I know it would make school a lot more enjoyable.

Anyway, I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll be going to university. I don’t like the way things are done, but without a degree, I’m going to have a hard time getting the job I want. Steve Jobs never graduated from university, and he lived a successful life, but he was different. He was a little bit crazy. I think his rebellious nature was the main cause of his success.

Perhaps I’ll pursue my interest in music in the future, and do anything computer related as a hobby. If I wrote a great piece of software, I would want to release it for free anyway. Perhaps I’ll work on improving the education system. I could think of some good ideas. Then again, I’ll probably have to get a university degree for that.

Saturday 15th June 2013 - 3 comments

  1. Gill Durrant says:

    A great post, well done!!

  2. Will says:

    Hi Jack,
    I stumbled across your ‘site whilst looking up things about Karl Pilkington of all people!
    You’ve got a really informative blog that’s interesting and well written.
    With regards to university (if you’re still undecided) – If you are passionate about a subject then go for it! University education in the UK will always cost money but if you find a good University the tutors and lecturers will challenge you, push you and teach you things that you had never considered before.

    I’m currently in the final year of my Architecture degree and whilst I have studied the majority of it part-time (whilst working) I wouldn’t have learnt what I know now any other way.

    “learn as if you were to live forever” and enjoy every second of it.


    • Jack Durrant says:

      I’m glad to hear that you like my blog. So, you found it whilst Googling Karl Pilkington? What are you trying to say here? (just kidding, of course, although I think Pilkie is a genius!)

      If I’m going to go to university, I’ll have to find somewhere that’ll accept 2 B’s and a D, if I’m lucky. This A-Level thing didn’t end up working for me, and in any case, I probably won’t go for at least a couple more years. I’m 18, but I still think like a 15 year old at the moment.

      Good luck with your Architecture degree.


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