Tuesday, 2 June 2015

22. Education: Freedom of being v system architecture

Just reading the papers today, I was struck by reading the same news in the UK and in Switzerland: there is a shortage of doctors.

This is the article from the Independent for UK, written from the point of view of a parent of a rejected student: "The big NHS question: Why are there so few new GPs when so many of our keenest brains want to study medicine?" by Peter Stanford

This is the article from the Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung: "Man muss das Medizinstudium ├╝berdenken" (Medical studies need re-thinking).

There are many factors: higher degree of specialization in medicine (fragmenting more the profession), advances in science that opened up new opportunities for treatments, longer life... and most importantly not enough medical students. In most cases this is because the number of university places is highly restricted: on the one hand it is down to the investment required, but on the other hand there is an ideological reason: education should categorize pupils and only some will be allowed to study medicine.
We may prefer to ignore elitist tendencies in our society, but it might be worth at least acknowledging that we are not that good in predicting the future: 20, 30 years ago no one could foresee or imagine how much Medicine would progress, how much longer people would live, etc. In Germany, for instance, currently 20% of the population is over 65 years old, by 2030 this figure will increase to nearly 30%.  People were making political decisions on this regard with the fear that allowing everyone who wants to study medicine to do so not only would be too expensive but it would produce an excess of doctors that society wouldn't be able to absorb. Universities too build their prestige and their excellence narrative by filtering who is allowed through their doors.

All of these reasons have one thing in common: they come from the point of view of the system, a rigid system that is focused on the past.
A system that is too rigid cannot adapt to an unforeseeable future or changing circumstances. But what worries me even more is how a rigid system undermines children and youngsters and restrict their options, and ultimately their freedom: the freedom to become who they want to be. Education is being used as a labelling and filtering machine for children and teenagers. The ones that are allowed to be part of a sort of elite and the ones that are not. A machine that is so inefficient that even students with straight A*s in GCSE in the UK don't have the freedom to choose their own vocational path. This must feel like the ultimate irony after excelling in what it seems a never- ending sequence of exams, what did they do wrong? Even more, imagine what's left for late developers and youngsters that have less support during their teenage years. And this is not only for the ones that want to become doctors. The education is not being used to explore their potential and the tools they could develop themselves but rather is condemning them with learning to use old tools to solve old problems. 

In this sense, education is failing children. The system is failing both ways.


Other articles:
Secret teacher: Sats stress is crushing children's love of learning 

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