Education – why can’t people think for themselves?

Something is seriously wrong with education at the moment now I’m asking why can’t people think for themselves? You may be thinking who am I referring to. Well everyone, students, teachers, just everyone. Students have lost the ability to think for themselves, but if the adults around them can’t do the same then how will they know. Something needs to change! And soon.

Now I’ll put this into context for you. I work in the SEN department as a teaching assistant. Now we as teaching assistants have to do duties at break and lunch. There’s quite a few of us to split these duties up but some people do more than others. So this week the rota needed to be evened up. Now my manager wanted me to sort it out because they didn’t have the time and not to sound arrogant but I’m trusted. Before I had a chance to do the rota there was a mix up. There was a missing spot, however instead of just figuring out for themselves I had to. I told another TA to do it. Though one of the TAs in the middle of the staffroom just started shouting about how ridiculous this all was. I was mortified. All the other staff members were staring at her and her showing herself and the dirty laundry of the department. I mean why couldn’t she just do what she needed to do and if she wanted make an actual complaint to someone who could do something about it, not me. This is an example of how adults can’t think for themselves.

Now the students. I work with majority SEN, however I am in class support so I assist all students if I can. Even the most able in the class cannot think for themselves. Should I write that down miss? Do we have to do this now miss? They might as well be asking if they are allowed to breathe! Though I do not think it’s entirely their fault. Education now is so set on getting kids through tests because of government pressures that kids don’t think for themselves. I work in a GCSE class year 11 (15-16) drama lesson. The students have to put on their own performances. Heaven forbid though that the students would just begin rehearsals straight away. They have a script it’s been cut down. All they need to do is practice it, put it on its feet and act it. But no you have blank faces staring at the teacher waiting for direction. It’s infuriating! The subject I adore is right now being wasted on the majority of these students because they just read a scene maybe two or three times and say they are done. They don’t try and decipher intention and motive. No care for thinking about intonation, pace, subtext. I asked them what subtext means and they didn’t know they are GCSE! Absolutely bonkers. I mean there is laziness but this group take it to a whole new level.

The question is why can’t they think for themselves? Well we as adults are too scared to think for ourselves now. So many rules and regulations, can’t do this, can’t do that. As educators we have the curriculum to follow and within that there is criteria to hit. There is so much pressure on schools to constantly meet those criteria that so many members of staff go by the book from fear of deviating and the students not doing well therefore showing that they are not doing well. Also we have a fear to make decisions for fear they are wrong. It’s this thought that oh no I should ask my boss? Even if it’s to do the simplest thing. But guess what you have a brain so use it. We then pass this on to students whether consciously or unconsciously. Students are constantly afraid to do things wrong. These are most of my conversations
“Miss how do I do this?”
“I just explained it to you”
“yes but I’m not sure”
“have you tried?”
“No”
“so try then”
2 seconds later
“I don’t understand”
You explain to them one question. They are understanding.
“Miss can you stay here while do the next one”
I mean seriously come on. Again I want to stress there’s a difference between someone not understanding and someone too afraid to be wrong. It’s made teaching an even tougher job because they are so much less independent. And if they are not independent now then in the future they’ll grow up to be adults that can’t think. They cycle will just continue.

Now as I said before something needs to change. There’s too much focus on testing memory then actually getting students to think critically and profoundly. I’m not going to profess that I have the solutions but I will make decisions in my professional work. I will refuse to spoon feed the answer to children and force their minds to work. The reason I wanted to work in education was because I wanted to help create independent thinkers that will thrive in society. I know that if I had not been pushed if I would have been allowed to use autism as an excuse for not thinking for myself then I would not have been where I am. So I’m not saying don’t provide support but don’t baby. Allow them to make mistakes otherwise they won’t ever learn anything for themselves. Adults need to model this. As long as you are not rude or undermining anyone then say what you think and do what needs to be done don’t wait for someone else to do it. Otherwise we will have a world full of sheep and no lone wolves. How boring would that be.

Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it. Peace out.

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One thought on “Education – why can’t people think for themselves?

  1. Good post. I’m glad you clarified. I think my parents (raising a child when autism was not a household word) did a good job balancing the honoring where I could not be vs. giving in because I could go there and didn’t. I am not employable in a traditional sense, but am in charge of keeping house now that both my parents are in heaven and my sister works full time. She takes care of things I can’t, inducing yard-work. I think we do well given the lack of supports (due in part to budget cuts) in our area.

    Liked by 1 person

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