Over recent years the intensity of my school and college work has (not so steadily) increased. Each year we’re being pushed further and further towards deadlines and in doing so we drift away from our original love for the subject. I remember the first time I ever got to choose what subjects I wanted to study at GCSE, I was ecstatic to say the least. Unfortunately the reality of the situation was not exactly what I expected…
I chose to study History, Drama, French and German. To me this felt like I’d struck the perfect balance between arts, creativity and academia. But of course, I was young, naïve and mistaken. Studying these subjects under the curriculum seemed to drain all the life out of them. Gone were the days of performing for fun or showing off my historical knowledge, I was now in exam territory.
This issue only grows and develops as you move through the education system. Sure, I have complete control over what I study at A-Level (Philosophy, Photography and English Literature if anyone was wondering), but I’m enjoying the classes less and less by the day. It seems we’ve come to accept that school isn’t enjoyable, but why shouldn’t it be?
My English teacher seemed shocked and a little appalled when I confessed to him that I’ve disliked almost all the books we’ve studied over the past two years. With a look of pure confusion he asked why I even studied English literature. Unfortunately, because of the course of work I want to take, I have very little choice in the matter. If I want to pursue a career in writing I need to go through the motions and get As academically, regardless of whether I enjoy the work or not. Don’t get me wrong I do love literature, but when you’re living in a world of dystopian ‘1984’ and thought provoking Maya Angelou it’s impossible to return to the land of Austen. Of course these writers have their place and I can appreciate them, but it’s just so unadventurous.
What I’m attempting to say, albeit rather poorly, is that we need to reclaim our joys. It may not be the easiest task to challenge the entire education system, but it’s important to voice our concerns. Even if nothing can be achieved on a nationwide scale, it’s entirely possible to rediscover a passion for the subjects you study academically. This blog, for example, has completely drawn me back into writing. In fact I’ve spent the entire morning writing my 3000 word English coursework, whilst being just a little hungover, and it’s been far easier and even more enjoyable.
Perhaps instead of having the mentality that school work has to be mundane we should just approach it differently. Re-learn our learning, to coin a phrase. Although I’ll be doing my part in striving to enjoy my academic subjects, I can only hope that university offers a more creative way of teaching.
Whoever came up with the illusion that teenage years are the best of your life clearly didn’t have teachers coming at them from left, right and centre screaming about deadlines. With so much pressure it’s understandable why one in ten young people suffer from mental illness such as anxiety or depression. I maintain the idea that, as we spend so much of our lives there, schools ought to offer a positive approach to learning rather than just meeting the requirements.