Education is not a social engineering tool

When I started my blog, I had an unwritten rule that I would avoid politics, and any political debate around education.  My objective is, and remains, to discuss the concept and construct of education from a philosophical standpoint.  However, an online article about the current Australian government’s possible changes to youth funding has seen me dipping my toes into the political debate – but only ever so slightly.  If you feel the need to comment, then do so in a bipartisan manner.  This is not about endorsing one side of politics or the other, but a dip at what I see a trend to use education as a social engineering tool.

The article can be found here.

While the idea is only a proposal and supposition it concerns me that governments of all persuasions feel that they can control/compel/impose people to embrace and remain in the education system; while failing to recognise that the formal education system is not for everyone.

Some young (and older) people struggle within an education system that appears to be focussed on selling a product (see here), or focussing on a test score or academic achievement.  This environment is not very everyone, even if they are capable of achieving the required standards.  Formal education, be it high school, vocational training, or higher education, has (in my view) lost the emphasis on the student focussed on a systems approach to education (see here).

This lack of generic empathy is (in my view) what is causing some young people to refuse to go to school – a phenomenon now being referred to a “school refusal”.  My friend Giovanna from Fresh Start and I have had many interesting conversation about this.  I submit to her greater knowledge on this issue, but we both agree on the amount of pressure that the education system places on young people to succeed.

This pressure is also placed on everyone through government thought bubbles like the one in the article linked above.  Further still, employers have abrogated the learning and development of their employees to formal institutions, without giving any real thought to whether or not those employees can function in a formal learning environment.  I see this almost daily in my work place.

I have spent some time with individuals who have never done well at school but are now thrust into a formal learning environment to seek promotion and/or a career change.  I assist them, where I can, to recognise how they best learn and engage with this ingrained approach.

So, how does a government – any government – feel that refusing funding to individuals who are not attracted to formal education is appropriate?

Now, I am not advocating for letting people to live on the dole, and I know from personal experience that it is not a fantastic life.  But, if someone was to force me to stay at school or undertake a course of training that I was not suitable for and did not want to do, I wonder what I would do.  What would you do?


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