Here in Iceland we’re having a lot of discussion on why so high percentage of young folks drop out from school. The reason for the discussions are due to a television show which talks about the school system and the dropouts.
I am one of those dropouts, I dropped out of high school after one year. The last 3 years of secondary school were a pain for me. Before those 3 years I would consider myself to have been a pretty good student.
During the last 3 years of secondary school I hit some kind of a wall. I stopped spending time learning, lost pretty much all interest in school and spent more time with my friends. I guess this is pretty normal for 13-16 year old kid. But the real reason why I gave up was that I did not see any future learning basic math, Icelandic, Danish etc. My future was in computing, that was for sure. Instead of learning from the school books, me and couple of friends started learning random stuff regarding computing we found after spending countless nights browsing the Internet. We didn’t have Google (Hello Metacrawler !) but somehow we managed to find loads of material that got us interested in networking, Linux (Hello Red Hat 4.2/Slackware 3.1 !), hardware, and UNIX operating systems.
The only course in school which had anything to do with computing was typewriting. The teacher was a math teacher who also did the typewriting classes at the school as well as handling the internal IT. Since me and one of my friends already spent the better half of the day on IRC it came natural to us (or we were already typing correctly, can’t remember:)). This class and English were the only classes I remember getting 9+ in.
Why? Because these were the only classes I was remotely interested in.
The one year I spent in high school was pretty terrible grade wise, but I had a lot of fun that winter…..maybe too much fun. But then real life knocked on the door. A lot faster and harder then I thought it would. And I had to get my stuff together.
Fast forward 15 years. I am a Systems Administrator. I have more then 14 years of experience in IT at age 31. I got to learn stuff that not many people really care about. And I have had to learn those things quite fast (Not having access to 3rd level support for X or Y at 03:00 when you have a system down helps a lot;)). But I actually wanted to learn those things. And I learned quickly that I was able to learn anything if I had any interest at all.
I do consider the school system to be highly flawed. It failed me pretty bad, it was unable to boost my interests in anything it had to offer. Had there been anything (even a optional class) on computers, programming or even industrial computers I would have been there. And it might even have showed me that it could actually pay off to stay in school.
In today’s world everything moves fast. Fast is probably not the correct word. We’re evolving daily. Almost every child knows English better then there parents at age 12. Hell, they are even quicker to find information on anything they want to learn about then there teacher, parent or uncle !
Why are we still doing things the same way we did them 30 or even 40 years ago ? Why can’t we stop this parrot learning style we have and move on to something more dynamic ? I have doubts that the current school system is able to keep my son focused – but hell, so far they are doing better with him then with me 🙂 But I do not have the solution to this problem. But I am sure it revolves around getting the kids interested in some field quickly enough and help them master that field instead of hammering them with Danish or Geography when it is obvious they do not want to learn about it, they can already look all that info up on the internet ! And then, if they want to learn Danish (sorry about bashing Danish, I have nothing against it!) they can choose to learn that. Or something else.
I might be rambling, but I really want today’s kids to get more out of school then I did.
Eventually, I will finish some degree. I hope 🙂