we don’t need no education

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Consider the following hypothetical : If your child’s future was financially secure would you strongly encourage them to pursue academic attainment? (I’m making the assumption that many of us put a premium on such things in the absence of untold riches. An education is at least some competitive edge in this economically Hobbesian world of ours).

Before you answer this understand that I’m not suggesting that you might eschew all attempts at learning for your child, but rather you might remove the pressure that is applied to formal learning’ (the word formal is key here). Certainly passion should be nurtured as an end in itself but should the same be said of academic achievement? After all, it’s enthusiasm and passion that got the Richard Bransons, Bill Gates and Jeremy Corbyns of this world over the finish line. Okay, that last one was a joke. I’m not a big fan, but he did manage to lead a major political party in this country with a mere two Es at A’level and a ‘failed to finish’ at a technical college. Gates did something similar at Harvard and Branson left school at sixteen. The point here is that they had a drive that was ignited by something beyond the confines of the classroom. Passion comes from a deeper place. Beethoven was composing symphony’s at five and Da Vinci (who received an informal education) was a universal genius, intent on discovering the seeds of knowledge. Historians have noted that the empirical methods he utilised were unorthodox at the time and breadth of his interest was without parallel. This urge was not found in a school room.

There is an idea that some things are easier to tolerate when there is a notion of escape. Consider the prisoner who serves his sentence with his cell door ajar, content in the illusion that he can leave at any time. Time is easier on him. The same idea might also be applied to the workplace. Many of us do jobs we don’t, if we’re honest, particularly like. We kid ourselves we’re free to leave them at any time, but in reality financial obligations ensure our enslavement. It is the illusion that gives us a measure of freedom. Might we also make the same argument for education, a formal sentence of tutoring, assessments, restrictions and conditions that are forced upon our children by the state. Perhaps if we allow a child a ‘get-out’ clause, we shift the paradigm, removing the anxiety that comes with ‘having to do well’. Time is easier on them. I’m not saying a formal education is a bad thing per se, but what do we do when the status quo is tending that way?

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