I may have said this here before, but I want to say it again. I was just looking through facebook: all my friends are there, so it’s a good way to keep in touch. I just have so many memories from there. University brought me the three best years of my life; I was surrounded by people who shared my interests, who wanted to learn and also wanted to have fun. This, of course, goes without saying – they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to learn.
Yet there are certain groups within society who take thee opposite approach to life. Many kids view learning as geeky and school as uncool. These people worry me. For starters, I cannot help but feel sorry for them, as they are denying themselves so much fun: uni brings so much joy, from going to summer balls to seeing your big brother wear a stupid hat! It is clear that I come from a very academic family, so was brought up to value learning, but only now do I properly see why. At the end of the day, university and learning opens just so many doors. Graduates become teachers and writers, politicians and scientists. In short, I cannot help but conclude that in our hands – the hands of the learned – lie the reigns of power. To turn one’s back on learning, as many school kids do, is thus folly.
Now, it is not as simple as a choice. The decision not to take the academic path is born of many factors, class being possibly the foremost. My middle class family always impressed upon me the need to learn, taking the time to teach me things school did not. Now look: so far, the haul is two firsts and a PhD. I must say that my parents got this drive from my maternal parents, where the haul is even more impressive: among my siblings, parents, cousins aunts and uncles are 8 degrees, about 4 masters and 2 doctors. At present, the only one without a degree is my bro Luke, due to finish next year. But I digress. My point is, our grandparents endowed us all with the motivation to learn, a drive which too few kids are being given.
Of course, it is far too simplistic to argue that this is just down to motivation. Parents need the time and money to encourage kids. Yet, this way the status quo perpetuates itself: working class kids will settle for a second rate education, not push themselves, and grow up to be working class adults. To me, this is a stupid state of affairs as it means the squandering of a hell of lot of potential and a gross imbalance of power.. Surely the more we encourage kids the better off we will all be.
Hence we must stop this anti-intellectualism in children. Try to break the circle through will. We need to show them how much fun, how cool learning is. I rather suspect that this is especially prevalent among kids in special schools, who are apt to become very disillusioned with the whole system. It is up to the likes of me, therefore, to show tem what is possible, and just how much fun it can be.