Compulsion in education

One of the problems with educating a child in a conventional school is the issue of compulsion. In order for a teacher to complete her lesson plans so that the school supervisor will see that she is sticking to the syllabus and following the curriculum, she must ‘make’ her students do what most of them have no interest in doing. In other words, compulsion is necessary. Many of our teachers here in Trinidad are very aware that this has a negative impact on a child’s real education, but they have to please the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of the Education in turn has to get better results at SEA, CXC, CAPE or what have you. It’s a vicious, self-defeating, self-perpetuating, cycle; and like any cycle it leads to nowhere.

Compulsion takes all the fun out of learning. I remember, as an adult when I was seeking to further my studies in I.T., a field which I loved, I found it extremely difficult to read my texts and cover my work simply because I had to. It is very difficult to psychoanalyze oneself, but I believe that my distaste for these school books came from the childhood trauma of compulsion in the name of education. Einstein noted that, “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be prompted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. On the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food handed out under such coercion were to be selected accordingly”.

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