The Flaws of Traditional Education
When I was in year 4 of primary school, here in Aotearoa New Zealand, my parents decided to pull the plug. At the time I don’t think I quite understood why, but I knew that I would be leaving school to learn at home, which is something I was super excited about. It wasn’t until a few years later that I really asked why both Mum and Dad had made that decision, and both of their answers made me start to question the system for myself.
“We started to see the light in your eyes dying, each day that you went to school.”
I loved school. Or at least, the first two years of it. Learning was made fun by my teachers, I spent all day with my friends, and we had two breaks where we got to play outside in between class times.
After those first two years, I’m not entirely sure what happened to make me dislike going to school. I still had plenty of time to spend playing with my friends, I loved learning the subjects we were given each week, and I was a sociable kid, so I got along with most people. However, over the years of looking back and wondering just what made me dread going to school every morning, despite how much I loved seeing my friends and learning, I found that it was how I was learning that drove me to hate school.
An example would be my writing. I loved writing as a kid, so much so that I would write about anything. In fact, I used to gather my toys together, line them up on the floor against the side of my bed, and interview them, writing down anything that they said back to me. I also used to write stories of their adventures, taking inspiration from the TV shows I used to watch, and then writing my own version, using them as characters. I loved writing and was so excited when I got to do it in school. Until I was taught the “proper” way to write.
The “proper” way to write, according to my education at school, was writing multiple pages about something I wasn’t particularly interested in. Now, writing multiple pages as an 8-year-old was hard enough in itself, but writing about something that I had very little interest in made it even harder.
I started to hate writing. I stopped writing about my stuffed bear’s adventures because apparently, I wasn’t writing it properly, so there just wasn’t any point in writing it at all. I started to despise writing time at school, and I would rush through it as quickly as possible so that it would be over sooner.
This didn’t end when I left school. Mum and Dad struggled to help me relearn my love for writing, because my creativity which helped propel the stories from my mind onto the paper in front of me, had disappeared completely. I didn’t want to write about my stuffed animal’s adventures anymore because I had forgotten how to.
It’s only been through the past three years that I’ve truly found my love for writing again, thanks to the support from both Mum and Dad, as well as the incredible encouragement and backing I’ve received from the School for Young Writers, here in New Zealand. With the help and guidance of an amazing tutor, I’ve finally started writing creatively again, even going so far this year, as to enter a national writing competition, something I would’ve dismissed even two years ago.
From leaving school to spending nearly a decade unravelling everything I was taught by traditional education in school, it has been a long road to recovering who I used to be. If you had told me two years ago that I would be writing as a job and looking forward to it each time, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told 8-year-old me who hated every second of writing in school, I would’ve been pretty upset at the thought of doing writing as an adult career option.
School taught me that the right way to do something I loved was to do it in a way that would lead me to fall out of love with it. I would hate to see that happen to other kids, as the road to recovery is often a difficult one, and for many who leave school, hard to recover from.