Education, education, education they say. Education, imagination, liberation I say and this is why.
Formal education pigeon holes individuals into boxes where you are expected at 16 to decide what you want to do with your education, with your life. For me I always wanted to be a hairdresser but I was persuaded to continue with A levels; Sociology, PE, RE and English. I have no idea why I chose them. They were the most fun. I liked my teachers. I liked being around my friends. Let’s learn stuff.
Then at 17 you are expected to decide which one subject you want to do at University. I chose Law with Journalism. Again, no idea why. It was one of the 5 different courses I had applied for based at 4 different Universities. I ended up at Chester because I had a really jolly time at the Open day, I was a huge Hollyoaks fan and apparently you can’t put a price on the education you get at University. So off I went to Hollyoaks for 3 years of fun, frolics, absent lectures and lot’s of naps on my large monochrome texbooks.
Formal education for me has sucked every last ounce of passion and imagination out of my studies. My course was concerned with hitting a percentage by writing an assignment in a certain way. Instead of being creative we are taught to follow models, theories and what other people are saying. Which is a critical skill to acheive, but where is our individuality? The pigeon holes we have been squeezed into throughout formal education moulds you into an individual scared of failing, scared of thinking out of the box.
If you ask any child between the age of 2-5 to draw a picture of the Mona Lisa, they will not know what the Mona lisa is but they will give it a shot, excited about the challenge, prepared to try anything. Ages 5-10 they will probably be a little more cautious, but will give it a go and once we get into our teens and adulthood we have been told that failure is such a bad thing that we would prefer not to give it a go than not succeed. Perhaps I am being a little over the top? Perhaps Gove-bashing has been on the agenda for the past year that i am finding any excuse to criticise the current system. Or perhaps I am using this sentence to apologise for my words in case they do not conform to the thoughts of everybody within my pigeon hole rather than having the confidence to say F*ck it.
In true academic fashion, here is my evidence, it shocks me to see how much of my imagination, expression and freedom of thought has been dishevelled into a list of letters on a CV achieved from somebody telling me to jump and I reply how high. Here is the 8/9 year old girl, writing from a 100yr old classroom in the times of floppy disks, tamacotchis and 90’s boyband fever. (Spelling mistakes have purposely been left in. Spell checker wasn’t a thing in exercise books).
22nd October 1999
The Lion the witch and the wardrobe I stayed behind I thought it would be cool to check it out. One room was empty exept a wardrobe. So i went in the wardrobe. it looked creepy a shifering shrill straight up my spine. So I went in I felt fur and mothballs. I left the door open because i knew it was foolish to shut myself in. I kept my hands in front of me so I wouldn’t bump myself at the end. but i didn’t feel the end of the wardrobe it felt soft powdery and extremly cold I felt tree branches poking me. I saw a light not a view centimetre away it was a long way away.
then i noticed I was in a forest with snowflakes in the air so i carried on.
Free from bullying, free to friendship.
Free from hate, free to love.
Free from boredom, free to have fun.
Free from blindness, free to see.
Free from drugs, free to live.
Free from starvation, free to eat.
18th february 2000
It was a damp dark evening. Fog covered evrything. The bare trees seemed like witches fingrs, long,narrow and pointed. I was walking down an empty street toward the station. I was waiting for the last train when i heared footsteps that got louder and louder. I began to walk along the platform but the footsteps got faster. My heart was beating rapidly. I was waiting for my train to arrive i felt a hand touch me but i couldn’t see anyone.
THEN i saw someone on the floor with an axe in their throat surrounded with blood. I didn’t know who it was but i knew that there was someone about. The body on the floor vanished. My train was here ready to go home i got on. i felt i was being watched. i sat down and sat back and thought about what i saw on the floor. finally the train stopped. i got off. THEN i saw someone come running at me it looked peculiar it looked like a ghost it chased me right into my house. finally i got rid o it and i calmed down.
The next day i got on the train ……
5th January 2000
In the christmas holiday santa left me:
A real living bunny
Tombraider the last revolution
lollypop making set
blow up chair and some other thingsHe drank the orange eat the mince pies and took the carrot. It was nearly New Years Eve I had to help mum and dad get evrything ready because we were having a party at my house. I put my bunny that I got for Christmas under the house because he was scared. His name is Thumper. At 12:00 we all were celebrating. We had chanpane. They were fireworks one didn’t work. i put my Bunny in the kitchen he was crying and shaking. the kitchen was full of droppings. Me, dee, jagger and danny morris, tom morris and greg went upstairs at 4.30am! I had sweet dreams.
The next day Pete and Jane Morris who slept were having hangover. Jane said “Ive got a headache” “No wonder” said Pete. Jane had lot’s of anadin. Half an hour later Jagger said “Im going to treat myself, going to the pub”. We all laughed. A few minutes later we started to clean up. They were party poppers all over the playstation broke. About 10 minutes later polly, alan and karen came round and helped us clear away. We had lot’s of alcohol left. Pete said “lets get a pint” “I don’t thing so” said Jane. That day me Dee, Tom, Dan, Matt and Andy went to mount Lane to have a game of footy. I scored about 12 or 13. We had a great time.
4 days later on my birthday i got up and watched TV with dee. My mum got up 10 minutes later She said “happy birthday do you feel 9” I just ignored her. I said to her “mum you are such a lazy bones”. Dee brought his presents throw i ripped it open and found a jester hat and a key ring. guess what my other brother matt forgot about my birthday. That day me matt and de went into town to get a present. We went to a lot of shops and picked a man ute goalie top.
20th January 2000
What will be left for me when i grow up?
Will bunnies and other animals be running around the fields?
Will little kiddies learn and playing in schools?
Will people be working and earning lots of money?
when i come back will all the things that were there still be here?
What will be left for me when i grow up?
Will there be pure air to berate?
Will the sea be clean?
Will sunlight hurt?
Will flames from cars clog up the crowded street?
Will blue whales sing will elephants and rhinos still survive?
Will you have left s anything healthy and alive?
28th September 1999
What is red?
A man ute kit is red. What is blue?
The river sparkling thro What is black?
The sky is black in the winters night what is brown?
a sparrow swooping down what is white?
a fan is white that blows away te light what is green the leaves are green on the tees so lean what is peach why a peach, just a peach.
Winter is a sign of christmas
Christmas is a sign of joy
Children open their presents Hoping for a new toy
Daffodils open in the strange heat
meadows are full of healthy weat
new born lambs and new chicks
getting upto there early trix
My mum is cool
She’s an everyday tool
My mum is great
She’s a real good mate
My mum is funny
She helps me clean out the bunny
My mum says i’m a groovy daughter
and i know my mums a super mum.
Many of these stories do not make sense, they are littered with mistakes but they are certainly a colourful reflection of the freedom and space you are given as a child to express yourself. 14 years later, I am half way through my MA which, guess what, I have failed a component already due to not jumping to a standard in boxes 4 and 5 of the Postgrad marking criteria.
However, I really enjoy this course for 3 reasons:
Rather than learning to get into the top set, to get into college, to get into University or to get into law school I am learning for learnings sake, a decision made by my passion.
It encapsulates a number of academic areas of study; media, journalism, sociology, theology, psychology and history therefore no pigeon hole, but a number of doorways to explore, because no subjects works on its own accord.
I enjoy the freedom to choose my areas of study and work independently to produce work I want to produce.
7 years ago I could have walked away from formal education with imagination and freedom of thought and expression tucked neatly into my JD rucksack. looking back, do i wish i had done that? No. I would have made a terrible hairdresser and although formal education for me, has shut many doors of imagination and freedom of expression it has opened up a host of others through the ‘other stuff’ you learn outside lectures which will stay with me for ever.