What’s the point of school?

The aged-old question. I’m asking the reason behind high school: that dreaded developmental decade.

Simply, being a teenager is tough. We all know the story; your body changes, parts get bigger sooner than others. Plus you’ve got all this un-channelled energy, new thoughts and questions about your world, coupled with the unbelievable ability to (un)intelligently hold any argument.

THEN. Then, there’s school. Public schooling could have up to one thousand people going through this phase and more. And yet, the State expects this same naturally troubled youth to remember their English assignment, their Geography assignment and nine other subjects’ assignments and deadlines.

I find this unfair. And I’m well out of my teenage years. As unfair as it is, it’s not going to change. The workload and life-load will stay the same. Students will be expected to perform regardless of the happenings of life. If this is the condition teenagers are in, why do we place the added responsibility of school?

I often keep this in mind when I meet my students for their 7th lesson of their day. I remember that I am the 7th voice they’ve heard. I remember that they are tired. I remember that they are just thinking about going home or going to break – just getting out of the classroom. All their unchallenged energy and new questions of their world takes precedence to the poem I’m teaching.

I have to remember this, because if I assume I deserve their attention, just because…I will fail miserably in my lesson.

The point of school? Perhaps this is to teach our youth that at your most vulnerable and confused phase of life, when your body is its strongest, your mind developing and your attitude to this world is being carved – that’s when life throws you the biggest bag of lemons, day in and day out. When you are on your knees, Life sends you an unfairly batch of sand somewhat aimed at your eyes. The point of school? Life isn’t fair. And yet you have to overcome all of it.

Students: take those lemons and have some non-alcoholic tequila.


The best teacher remains a student.

Tomorrow is the start of my internship. Apparently I should be “better prepared” because this is the second one.
I struggle to accept this attempt of comfort when I think any kind of comfort doesn’t exist when dealing with hormonally charged teenagers. So, as I attempt to prepare for sleep before tomorrow’s onslaught, a very familiar thought walked through my mind: What does it mean to be a teacher? Shockingly (or not so shockingly) this is a concept that isn’t new. An answer that often meets this questions comprises of words like: inspire, role-model, change, motivator, new thought, liberate etc etc etc

But what does it mean to be a teacher? What exactly is my purpose? Am I just there to deliver information? This is fundamentally impossible. The personality of anyone can’t be divorced from their work. Right?
This isn’t a superficial examination: looking at what it means to be a teacher is directly linked to what is learning, and as a result the foundations of the education system. The system which, by law says each and every person must engage with. So examining this is not done lightly. And honestly, on the advent of my teaching practice, these questions are fitting.

Another question which seems to be growing at the speed of a newborn: What is a successful teacher? How do you measure success in the education system? Then, how do you measure personal success? In a society built on competition, it would be near impossible to ask a professional to remove or try to dilute their competitive nature from their work. So what is a successful teacher? A punctual one? A role-model? A figure of authority and structure?

Many questions, each with its own variety of answers. Watch this space.