The other day, I was innocently listening to the radio and a song came on that really summed up some thoughts I have been having lately, as my family starts to begin the transition from primary to high school.
It was a Paul Simon song from the mid-70s called Kodachrome, which starts with the unforgettable words: “When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it is a wonder I can think at all”.
When that song was released it was like a teenage anthem of rebellion for endless hours of logarithms, trigonometry, physics and chemistry, force-fed by the dark side of humanity, aka teachers.
Every day on Facebook now there are posts of people boasting of another day on the planet survived without needing to refer to year nine algebra, or any of the subjects I just mentioned.
I agree that much of what I was taught in school has not been a necessary reference library for my professional or personal life. But I did learn to think. I did learn to question things and to delve more into matters. I learned to work with and without other people. I learned how good it is to work as a team and also on my own.
I learned a lot of very useful skills, but I was taught a lot of very useless data, which was no fault of the teachers. School today does place a higher priority on social skills, languages and subjects that are more likely to be part of your everyday life, and that is a good thing.
I can still see a place for many of the academic subjects, but it is good to see the balance has been adjusted. I am not a big fan of exams and I do believe they cause unwarranted stress and anxiety for some students. I also don’t have an alternative that works … but at least other factors are included these days. Some of the smartest people I went to school with choked come exam time, which never seemed fair.
We have a year to think about all the possibilities ahead for Hayden … he’s the one who will be turning up for classes. It feels like we are going back to school, and I am not sure I am any keener now than I was all those years ago. Sing it one more time Rhymin’ Simon.
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