There are some aspects of school that are boring and authoritarian, but try and run one that isn't and still teaches them anything. But that doesn't mean schools are prisons or the easy, obvious slur of the Pink Floyd mincing machines. Schools, despite their mild-mannered and often anodyne appearances, are dream factories, where children of all backgrounds are given the opportunity to become the architects of their own destinies. Some of it's a bit dull. Some of it will fascinate and inspire. Some of it is 'you need to know this' and some of it is 'what do you think?' There is often a good deal of dance. And if there isn't there are other ways for caterpillars to become butterflies. To say that schools don't offer these things is probably a bit of an insult to schools and the hard work that teachers do.
Tom Bennett provides a rousing defense against Ken Robinson's claims that the educational system is broken.
It's a fair point. Schools are more than just a national curriculum and standardized testing.
I'm inclined to think, though, that it's teachers that make the difference. I'm also inclined to think that the increasing focus on a national curriculum, standardised testing and government oversight makes it difficult for great teachers to make space for creativity.
But maybe I just think that because I—like so many people—have been so impressed by Ken Robinson's various TED talks. Maybe schools are less bureaucratic and the government less invasive than I've been lead to believe.
Tom Bennett's essay is a good reminder that I need to keep an open mind as my son starts school. I need to make judgements about the effectiveness of his education based on what I see, rather than what I've been lead to believe.