I cannot write this essay without reference to study of my own experienced and my daughter’s- placed in the harsh environment of the government schooling system and its observations of the stark belief systems of “the child to fit the system” and not “the system to fit the child” with reference to the what education should be about. This means different things to different people. To some this means a teacher teaching and passive learning taking place, the outcome is expected at the end of each year that each child has to achieve the same outcome and is graded accordingly. The only problem with this is the removal of freedom and time constraints and a passive role for the child. Their inner spirit quashed, the overcrowded classrooms, noisy and harsh, a teacher that needs to get through a curriculum at the expense of the child. Many children simply will not prosper in this unkind environment where they sit for too long at a desk, have no say in activities and many times the harshness of the actual voice of the teacher is too much for the sensitivity of the child. Such over stimulation in the classroom environments are negative and have created new dysfunctions blamed on the child where the blame clearly lies in the environment the child is placed in. ADD, ADHD have become household names even in prominent private schools. Occupational therapy and educational psychologists are an economic spin off of these ills. Parents guided by fear that unless the child has all these expensive sessions and observations, lead to years of therapy that is expensive and does not achieve much unless the child is removed from the harshness of the environment. Ritalin is often prescribed to placate children to make the teachers life more bearable. But the stark reality is that there has been no respect shown for the child as an individual human being. These children are often normal with no deficits, but require a change in environment and teaching methods. Not to forget to include a loving environment and teacher who loves children.
These environments place on the child an unusual barrage of negative sensory information and can lead to sensory overload. This is seen in children who cannot conform and do not perform in traditional classrooms and without the guidelines of the Montessori environment, but rather by passive teaching where there is control by force. Classes are often noisy and children frustrated at confined spaces and forced to learn at one pace, become disillusioned, depressed and unmanageable. Why? Because of the lack of respect there is a loss of dignity and the removal of the basic natural freedoms- the sense of self is lost. Along with excessive punishment and reward systems in place, children learn by example and carry through these impediments in life.
These causes can be simply named as impediments to the natural learning process inborn in all human beings. It is the driving force of all mankind to learn to function from the basics of walking, talking, mastering of the motor skills to the mastering of fine motor co-ordination that assist the development in the abstract thinking area.
The essence of education should not be to impede, but as an aid to life. If I think about my own education, I learned nothing as an aid to life anywhere except to read and write and count. Beyond that I found it rather boring year in and year out. I did have the opportunity to have so many wonderful teachers and the ones I remember the most were the ones who gave us the freedom to create (as much as allowed) within those lessons. They were the ones who loved teaching and loved children. Books never teach experience, teachers can’t teach experience, but life does, and it with this in mind that life should be experienced and not read about. So it is with the essence of education that it is something to be experienced and not as a passive bystander....