I have lost count of the amount of times that I have heard people say: “When I was younger we didn’t have a choice” with regards to school. That might be true but we had a choice to learn. Is this too simplistic a statement? Possibly it is, but at the heart of all learning there is a choice. Give people the opportunity and the guidance, then it becomes a viable choice.
I used the phrase “viable choice” because it seems to me that access to education is merely a starting point. It’s something that we all have. School is a requirement for our children and was so for all of us. For something to become ‘viable’ it must be capable of working successfully. Can we say that for all the choices we make?
I am passionate about learning and I am unsure whether that is because of my upbringing or it’s a core part of my nature. I was the first of my family to go to University and, later, the first to get a Masters. Was I aware of the importance of this or did I just take it for granted?. My family were supportive and, at times, have picked me up, metaphorically speaking, and put me back on the road of learning. However, this would not have been successful if it was not the route that I would have chosen myself.
Do we value learning? I would argue that we do not always understand its value or its importance. I valued learning but I did not understand its importance until I started to teach. Then, it became clear to me that learning is a treasure to share. Until then, I had hoarded my knowledge to myself. I kept it within me and nursed it but I did not allow others to be involved or a part of it.
Cog in the system
So, when I am asked about school and exams I am crucially aware that there is a requirement for our children to fulfil. They attend school, they do their bit, they take the exams and, whatever grade they get, they move on. My job as a tutor is to help with that process and, as such, I am part of that system. Sometimes, every now and then, a student engages with the subject and I can almost feel the tentative beginnings of a relationship forming with learning itself. I can hope that they pursue that throughout their life and wherever life leads them they will have that with them.
Learning cannot be taken away from us and when knowledge is shared it becomes so much more powerful.