Are Schools Preparing Kids for Life?
One of the most common reasons the current school system exists is to prepare kids for life after school. As such, kids spend the first 18 years+ of their lives mastering how to live their lives after school. But are schools preparing kids for life?
Essentially, the school’s job is to imbibe the expected mode of behaviors, patterns of thinking, etc., in students, just like an actor sticks to the script to have a determined outcome or end. As beautiful as the plan to prepare kids for life after school is, it might also pass on as one of the greatest hindrances of the current school system.
What do we mean by LIFE?
There seems to be some dichotomy between life during and after school years. This dichotomy goes on to affect the way we see life in general. This representation of life is tricky as it sets the tone that whatever life is out there is not what we experience in school.
The big question is, how does the school prepare kids for life when what is out there is an entirely different experience from what we have in school? It is like saying you are training me to become a better vocalist by going to a spa. Because, when you say you are preparing kids for life, does this mean what kids are experiencing in school right now is not life?
Many kids are waiting to leave school with the mindset that they are going into life to enjoy and rock it; in essence, to have some form of freedom to do whatever they want.
Students see “LIFE” during school as a prison ground where you get to do as instructed. It is a regimented system controlled by people who seemingly know what is best for the kids. The school promises the kids that they will be rewarded if they perform well.
The kids assume the reward will be the freedom to do whatever they like—an escape from the constant need for oversight to do anything. All the kids needed to do was to follow laid down rules and regulations,
This was a means to motivate them to be well-behaved while in school. Hence, students see life after school as a reward for their labors in the school system.
In the real sense, life outside school is not freedom or independence per se. Instead, it is more chaotic, unpleasant, disorderly, and unpredictable. So the promise made by the school is only a lie to get them in line.
The School is a Game
Many students are in school today only because they believe it is a pathway to that so-called freedom. As such, to enjoy that freedom, you are expected to give it your best in school.
The school forces students to learn a bunch of stuff they are mostly not interested in, and because these students are more concerned with life after school, they are willing to endure the experience. Essentially, no learning happens as these students live up through the day in hopes of their freedom.
It is no wonder we hardly remember anything we were taught in school barely two years after graduation. For most of the time, we memorized whatever the teacher taught, only to recount them for the teacher during the exams.
It is no wonder why we have a lot of people who have spent years reading during their school years only to graduate school and never open up a book again. Likewise, we have students who have spent years writing and copying notes never take up the pen to write for themselves again.
Students play the game the school has created – do this so that you get that, and if you do not get this, you will not get that.
Hence, schools motivate students to learn for the sake of a reward without considering what they are to learn and how to put it to good use. They are instead motivated to have a life without external control.
So, instead of preparing kids for life, we are setting them up for failure because they believe that they have paid their dues by going to school, and as such, life should reward them for their service or sacrifices. Instead, we tend to produce young adults who think that the world will swing in their favor at their call and beckon.
They have been wrongly indoctrinated that life is a bed of roses if you do what you are told. But, meanwhile, that is the opposite.
Students learn to master the game of school and fail woefully in the game of life. In school, all you have to do is please your teacher by doing what you are told to do. To control the outcome, do what you are told. However, outside school, there is no one size fits all. There is hardly any predetermined outcome. You can do everything right and still be wrong.
The Dichotomy Between Learning and Doing
It should be known that the idea of preparing kids for life itself has a good intention; however, from the outlook of things, there seem to be some underlying flaws in the idea.
However, schools are loading kids with information on how & what to think and do. Instead, they should arm kids with the ability to use the information they have at their disposal.
According to the school system, life is black and white. If you do as told, you will get the desired result, but you will get the wrong results if you do otherwise. So, when a kid is taught something, the school essentially expects the kid to regurgitate what they have learned rather than task the kid on what they can do with what they have learned.
So, it says, learn this first for the first few years of your life and go out there to put what you have learned into practice. We have come to see learning as the intake of information rather than the use of information. So, the school loads us with lots of information, periodically tests our memory of this information, then sends us into the real world to make meaning of all the information we have acquired.
Meanwhile, learning is in the doing of a thing. For instance, from the natural order of things, a baby walking is not learning to walk but walking. It is in the walking that the child is learning. The more that child walks, the better they become at walking.
Learning is in doing a thing and not memorizing information about that thing. So doing is how you connect the dot. How do you understand the usefulness of the information acquired? You do not leave school to stop learning but rather to continue learning. Hence, the school should be where you do stuff, not memorize stuff.
Chaos and Randomness; Order and Linearity
The world is filled with chaos, and the person who can overcome chaos is regarded as a winner or successful. Our schools are terrible at preparing kids for life by encouraging them to be comfortable with order and linearity. Instead, we raise kids who see life as a linear event. Meanwhile, life is a series of curves and spirals rather than a straight line.
No aspect of life happens linearly. Emotional commitments, financial commitments, spiritual commitments are all a roller coaster. You can be happy today and sad tomorrow. You might have a lot of money today, and tomorrow you are broke. You can be with the love of your life today, and tomorrow they are gone. You can have a good job today, and the next day your job is gone.
Making sense of these events should be the school’s concern. You can do everything right and have the wrong outcome. You can be very great at your job and lose it to a government policy or something totally out of your control. How you take this and make it into something better is what life is all about.
Kids should thus be exposed to chaos very early. We should stop simulating life. Instead, we should endear kids to have skin in the game. Give them real-time projects to work on and real problems with unpredictable outcomes. Let them suffer the implication of making a wrong decision and enjoy the result of making a good decision. That is how you prepare kids for life – by bringing life to them.
We can glaringly see the result of what the current school system is doing. We are having more anxious, sad and depressed, adults. They are clueless and helpless. They are experiencing a different thing than they had planned. After school, they envisaged life to be fair, easy, and fun, only to meet the opposite.
The truth is, you cannot outrightly blame them. Do you know why? You do not train a dog for years to be a pet and expect it to be a wild animal. The same thing for the kids – we are preparing them wrongly.
Are students incapable of action?
We are brainwashed to believe that there is a timeline or age limit to act or not. However, the fundamental belief that kids are being prepared for life gives room to accept that kids are incapable of making something remarkable until they get to a certain age and are ripe for the real world.
This is absolute nonsense as we have a historical record of kids who did extraordinary things. Mozart was about seven years old when he started going on musical tours. Stevie Wonder was a wonder at 12 years old when he started his career. Micheal Jackson was a kid when he sang the popular ABC song. Booby Fischer became a Chess grandmaster at 15 years. Malala was 17 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize. I could go on with a list of kids who have gone on to do remarkable things.
Being a student is not an excuse for inaction. It is a lie sold to us by society to cage our wings. The school sells the idea that there is a timeline for different achievements. These kids grow up to be adults who keep waiting for a lucky big break instead of grabbing the bull by the horn.
Preparing kids for life by clamping their ability to make meaning out of life at this very moment is absurd. We are so obsessed with life after school that we lose sight of life at this very moment or life the next day, week, or month.
Kids should be encouraged to solve real problems right now, not when they are out of school. Kids can own businesses, build software, create masterpieces, solve life-threatening issues right now.
The moment we give kids a timeline, which we have done, they turn out to either become less of what they should have become or lose every interest in making anything remarkable. This is one reason why we have many clueless adults roaming around. They have no sense of direction, no idea how to move to the next level, deal with their failures, and handle loss and rejection.
Do you know why? They have learned over time that they are incapable of actions. This is because so many adults have ideas but are scared to the bone to implement them. They are afraid of what people will say; they are so scared they will flop; they are afraid that they are not good enough. Hence, instead of taking action, they would rather stick to inaction than take action.
Femi Fafiola paints this picture perfectly;
“I have always had the thought that the school, as many understand it, is a lame (but gratifying) excuse adults use to put their life on a pause. The excuse that they are preparing for life after school while not taking any meaningful action now.”Femi Fafiola
I ask again, are schools preparing kids for life?
Does Learning Ever Come to an End?
Adults now see learning as the kids’ responsibility while their responsibility is to make money or to worry about so-called important things. They see the end of school as the end of learning.
But does learning ever come to an end? Absolutely not!
Over the last 20 years, we have witnessed one of the fastest evolution of advancement. In about 30 years, we move from Web one to Web 3, from the internet to blockchain, AI, and the Metaverse. Yet, 20 years ago, there was hardly any job role like a community manager, Chief Evangelist, Digital Marketer, and many other new roles.
Today, people can sit in their houses and make tons of money. This was very rare 20/30 years ago. Hence, to make sense of our world today, you must be radically biased to learning.
Limiting learning to the school setting is purely unhealthy. Learning should be a lifelong activity. The school’s job is to get kids to fall in love with learning. No great thing comes by without actively learning. What we think we know is wrong when they are put to action most of the time.
Age has nothing to do with learning! The older you grow, the more you should fall in love with learning. The world is constantly evolving, and a person who refuses to learn about their world will be left behind.
to be continued…