Subjects that Nick talks about (+videos)
A Revolution On Education
So tonight I felt I should talk to you about children and education. And when you think about schools and the system that’s been created you couldn’t create something more horrible if you tried. I remember being five and going to school and thinking so is this what I’ve got to do from now on. I mean, where did my nice life go, with my mum and my dad and my brother and sister. So we’ve created a system that is depressing, pressurizing, totally unfun….and nothing has changed for a hundred years.
And what’s so crazy is it’s so sad but nobody looks at it and says but hang on a minute why don’t we make it fun. Surely children want to have fun, surely they would learn better by having fun, instead we do things like put them in isolation all day, sometimes, where they sit in a cubicle and stare at a wall. Would we do that to one another, would we do that to adults. If you went to work and you’re a bit naughty your boss would say to you I want you to go and sit in that cubicle all day and stare at the wall. We wouldn’t do it. So we have to create something which is far and beyond anything we can really actually imagine, or even talk about.
... When I was driving around the other day I noticed how many churches there are in Bognor Regis and how many pubs there are. I think there are 11 churches and 23 pubs in Bognor. How many schools are there in Bognor…..3, 4. So you think well why don’t we have 30 schools in Bognor, all localised like the local pub or the local church.
Look at this building that we’re in today, it would make a perfect school wouldn’t it. It would be fantastic. So, like I’ve described in the books, it needs to be open plan, it needs to be friendly, it needs to be a great space, a great environment where we would have places for the children to work, to create, to build. We would have computers where they could sit in 4’s, as we’ve worked out, so that they can teach themselves without teachers. We can have a kitchen area with islands so that they can prepare their own food and learn to cook. We can have a quiet area where they can have a great big TV screen and they can watch films and documentaries, and in this hall here you can easily have a basketball, five a side football and we could make it great fun.
... Most schools start at between eight and eight thirty and finish at three so they’re there really for about 7 hours a day. I mean 7 hours. Adults go to work for 8 hours; why are we putting our children through this horrendous situation. If you put me in a class I’d be bored after fifteen minutes. So how can our children survive, how do they manage to go through it, I don’t know. And they’re all so depressed and run down and miserable and they mope about. Then they come home and we shout at them because they’ve got to do their homework and then that puts the family against each other every single night of the week and at weekends, and then during the holidays they have more homework to do. It is just absolute madness. If the parents are doing half the homework, what’s the point in it in the first place really; we’re no good at it, so it’s just a complete vicious circle.
But the format of schools is all wrong; you go into this classroom; you sit at desks. It’s so kind of unfriendly and to put children all of the same age together is also crazy isn’t it. If you mixed up the ages then the older ones would help the younger ones and I don’t think... you don’t even need classes if the schools were small enough everybody could do things together. So my feeling is that we’ve got to change this; it’s just so bad. We want them to enjoy it, we want them to learn because they want to learn. ...They want to come to school to understand about life, and so do we need to teach them or do we need to show them. Do we need to have a logical system about what life is about.
So what happens is we learn these subjects, we leave school, but we don’t actually understand anything about life. We don’t know what it is like to be a parent (nobody teaches us about that), we don’t know how to cook, we don’t know how anything works logically, we don’t know how a car works, we can’t change a tyre. We could teach the children how to build a house (they would love it; sand and cement, bricks) and show them how it works. How the central heating works, how to open up a bank account, how to apply for a mortgage, how to set up a company, how to set up a website; okay they probably do that.
So, it’s time for us now to change this but could you imagine if there were 30 schools in Bognor. Instead, at one of the main schools they’re just building a huge extension to it so that it can have 2500 children in one school, with 33 children in a class. I mean they’ll just get lost and most of the children get left behind. Okay the clever ones are okay, they get through it, but how many children in the classes get left behind because they’re not engaged in having any fun at all or learning anything that they’re interested in.
So does it really matter what children learn as long as they’re learning something that they enjoy. And, our children are our future, so we have to do it, we’ve got to do something because we need to see that it will work and see how they will end up.
In Finland they have got a system now, where there are no private schools everybody goes to the state schools. They’re all the same. They only do 20 hours teaching a week, they have a 15 minute break after every class, the schools are designed with the children and the playgrounds are designed by the children. There’s no homework, they can wear what they like and they have the best results in the world. So, we’ve already got it proven to us but we can even improve on that.