Saturday, 19 April 2014

The Problem with Education Today

Being a mother to six children, five of whom are currently attending various schools across the Emirates, and some that they attended back home, I have piled on rather a few grievances based on my experiences. Perhaps grievances is too soft a word, I would say I'm truly troubled at how things have changed since when I was a young student. It's no secret that the world has progressed in all fields of life- medicine, technology and 'education'. But here's why I say I'm upset and believe the entire system is borderline failing:

Branding Schools: Ever notice the mad scramble that parents make in the month of April to get their kids admitted in the best of the best, the most elite and well known schools? No, not in colleges and universities- I'm talking pre-school. My goodness, at the end of the day, the children will be learning the same skill sets regardless where they go. It's not rocket science. And then there is peer pressure.
Does this case scenario ring true?
"My kid got admission in the best school in town. Where did you get your child admitted?"
Head bowed down in shame and disappointment for whatever reason you could not get in and really have nothing to say and yet you manage something like, "Yeah, whatever."
I just think government schools that have some semblance of equality is a good system, but we are the ones who don't prefer them anymore due this 'branding', so naturally despite equality, the quality deteriorates and we lean in towards the prestigious private schools.

A Big Business:  You all know the drill, pay for the form, the form is for all, but the seats are limited, so there is a draw of sorts and then if you're lucky you pay handsome amounts of money for the seat, admission, tuition, annual fees, extra fees, medical I missing anything? Let's not include the books and uniforms and extended expenditure of extra tuition, projects, art material and a whole bunch of other stuff. I think schools need to factor in their intentions, exuberant fees, nay, ridiculous fee structures are unfair. I'd love for my business to thrive just like the next guy, but I'd love to keep my intentions pure. I'm not talking select kids on scholarships, but it's a little dream of mine to deliver state of the art education available to the masses, not the just the privileged.

Headache For Parents: What child makes those projects himself? Not mine, asking an eight year old to build a circuit and then attach it to a model cardboard house....a bit much. And it's me who is doing 90% of the teaching! A couple of people I know whose kids go those schools that give a pre-planned lunch plan, give a new meaning to the word micro-manage. It is not as easy as it sounds and for the life of me I don't see the necessity in this strictness. Sure I love that it promotes healthy dietary habits, but ask the kids if they like being force fed. I'm all for a balanced meal but have 20 kids bring in the same snacks is silly. I mean we never had it like this when we were small and we turned out fine compared to the morbidly obese, pre diabetic kids that this generation is producing. Of course we have the bulimic and anorexic kids as well. It's a fact, kids are more unhealthy today than they were say 20 years ago. I remember glancing into the lunch boxes of other kids and having friendly conversation, even sharing around. Can't have that these days. How about we dial down the crazy a bit, I mean my sister was at her wits end because she couldn't send flavored milk.

Individualized Teaching: In the high end schools, every kid has individualized lesson plans or at least there a few groups at different levels. In theory it's a good plan, but what is the end result. The high achievers achieve higher that the level they are supposed to be at and the average do better and the low achievers do better - all according to their level. So a low achiever ends up getting good grades because the tests he gets are on his level, not on the average level of the class. This potentially poises him for disappointment in the future where the real world offers no specified levels of aptitude. And with all the science put into the world of education, how is it that kids are being taught but don't learn anything? What kid appreciates art, applies strategic thinking to everyday situations, what kids enjoys poetry and good ol' English classical prose? And what happened to handwriting, neatness and presentation? And what is it with the death of morals and ethics that takes the face of bullying at schools? And then again it's probably just me, but I've been in the teaching business and these are the trends I notice on both sides of the fence. It's no wonder home schooled kids do better and score better GPAs. So how about we do it the old fashioned way and offer extra help to kids after hours or some other program without having to give false premise and similar programs for higher achievers to lift their potentials.

Teachers In The Lurch: Teachers are so marginalized, I don't know why they don't get credit like doctors or engineers. They do not get the respect and compensation enough for what they do. This is leading to an alarmingly short supply of truly gifted and devoted teachers. 

Ineffective Assessments: So one child put all the fruits into the vegetable group and vice versa as opposed to a kid who did the exercise at random. What happened? Who deserves the better grade? I'll tell you who got a big fat zero- the kid who actually knows what fruits are but he put them under the wrong group name. But the kid who just picked out the names at random scored a few marks by chance. This is just an example. And what about the child who has the concept right, but can't score well as opposed to the kid who knows nothing but has memorized all the definitions. Just saying.

There are exceptions to every case. These are just my own views. But I'd love to hear about your experiences. These things I've mentioned are general observations I've made over the years. So do let me know what you think.


  1. Totally agree with you but one thing I would like to point out that most of these are the problems that were present even when I was in school like 20 years ago. Schools were branded at that time too and my parents did all they could to get me admitted into the best school of that time. Projects have always been a mom's duty. My mother used to make our projects and charts. So I think these are all general problems with education and not just of today.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Yes the issue of 'ivy league' schools has been an issue, and yet it did not define success of a child, my father studied in government schools all his life but this did not hinder his success, but if late the word success has become synonymous with the institutions children are attending. As for projects, kids should always always do it themselves, with parental guidance, but its not the objective for the parent to do it. The teachers don't solve the test papers for the children. So how about teachers give assignments that the kids can actually manage by themselves for the most part...that will help the child learn, not us moms toiling and burning the mid night oil for them...for 5 marks.

    1. Just an after thought, I know so many moms who are not that literate, and the projects don't get done...that's so sad because then the child is embarrassed in class, and loses precious marks also. It used to happen with me all the time when I was young and I can't shake the feeling, I could never do those charts and projects on my own and I had no one to help me.

  3. A comprehensive, true and sad picture of today's education system... not much has changed since the past 2 days. Problems have only escalated. We have new problems now!

  4. Very true I like what u wrote .I Agree with you.