Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
Nelson Mandela was the one who said that quote and I, for one, thoroughly back it up. Education has been proven to lower crime, lower blood pressure and mothers with higher educational attainment are more likely to wait to have children. Education has been linked to behaviour, health, wealth and stability- whether rightly or wrongly.
And it’s an ongoing process. My own undergraduate dissertation focused on whether an individual’s parents’ educational attainment can impact their decisions about Higher Education- or in simplier terms, if your parents’ have a degree, are you more likely to go to university. The answer that I found was yes. Honestly though, I wasn’t surprised. With a degree you’re more likely to get a well paid job, and having more money increases your child’s cultural capital and therefore lends itself to going to get a degree.
But I’m the first in my family to go to university so it’s not set in stone.
I’ve already prided myself on being working class and that I come from a working background. We might not be well off, but we were constantly pushed to earn what we wanted. Which is what struck me when I was watching BBC’s documentary: A Very English Education. It focuses on the very English tradition of sending boys off to prep school at a young age and, as is pointed out throughout the episode, it is a very upper class thing to do. If you could afford it, you push your children to get the very best education possible and that’s still very true today.
However, this documentary was a revisit of one done 30 odd years ago and they wanted to find out where the boys were now that they were grown men. I was intrigued to find the variety of paths they had taken and, without spoiling too much, how much they had learned from the experience. The main thing appeared to be that the school hadn’t granted them automatic superior status and therefore solving all of their future problems, and in fact it was very much the kind of issues you’d probably come across within any school.
If it showed me anything, it was the fact that many people sell themselves short depending on their educational background. I know I was always told that if you did badly in your GCSEs, you were essentially doomed for life- and yet one of my good friends, who scored straight Es on those exams, now owns a rather successful agriculture company. I was also told that going to university was the only route into a good career, and yet my younger sister chose against university and is now working in a full time job in what she loves with plans of opening her own business.
Then there’s me, feeling more lost and confused than the day when I first sat down and got told the importance of every decision I would make from year 11 (and the end of compulsory education) onwards.
I still strongly agree that education is key to solving the majority of the world’s problems- it’s the reason I study it and thoroughly enjoy it. But what I don’t agree on is the concept that unless you’re top of everything you will get nowhere in life. In fact, I believe it’s the curriculum which is letting people down rather than the actual education. Hopefully in a few years we’ll see that changing… Or not.