Education is more than just a competition
Whether it's competition for school grades or university places, pupils are forever engaged in a rat race against their peers.
I’m by no means someone who advocates against competition. Indeed, I believe that when properly harnessed competition brings out the best in individuals and societies. Just look at how cities pull together when it’s their turn to host the Olympics or how children’s faces light up when they win school prizes.
What I do, however, take issue with is competition for competition’s sake.
Being terrible at art, I would personally never opt to participate in an art competition; competing would be pointless unless I genuinely wanted to take part.
Why we impose children to the routine of focusing on what they’re terrible at — simply so that they can progress to the next stage of the rat race — is beyond me.
University Doesn't Solve the Problem
The private tutoring industry in the UK has swelled to an astonishing £2bn a year as parents scramble to ensure that their children get the grades they need to get into top schools and universities.
And the problem doesn't end there. Countless students finish school, wilfully take on enormous debts in order to attend university, and graduate only to find that there aren't enough "grad jobs" to go around. Not what you'd expect after paying £9,250 a year.
A study last year also showed how vulnerable young people are to payday lenders and other questionable lenders. Appallingly, 25% of young people are in constant debt.
A Bright Future?
Against this backdrop, the future might seem bleak for today's youth. Yet the reality is that the world has never been safer, wealthier and more connected.
Studies also show that today's teenagers are highly inclined to start their own companies and will be the most innovative generation yet. After all, 80% of jobs that they will do are not even in existence today.
However, grades alone will not help students seize these opportunities and inevitably many will, without knowing, let great things sail right past them.
In order to succeed, students need to be adaptable to move with a fast-changing world. They will need to have a practical understanding of how economies and businesses work. Above all, they will need to know what their strengths are and how they can capitalise on them.
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