Most parents live with the misconception that school is a place where children go to learn and become the best they can be. Somewhere where you can be assured that the educational system is set up so that your child is best placed to become an intelligent and high-functioning citizen in a new and fast-paced world. However, the reality is that our current schooling system is set up to produce two types of graduates - the winners and the losers.
Within our current educational model, the main aims of schooling are to have children; follow directions, listen to and re-package information (in the form of essays and tests) and then to pit them against each other to see who can achieve the highest marks, advance to the next level and ultimately go on to excel in higher education. Within this system of competition students are discouraged from helping each other ('cheating'), and older students are largely separated from younger children (also preventing them from taking on natural leadership roles and responsibility in their everyday schooling life). Poor-performing students are 'streamed' in later high schooling to take on the 'lesser' non-academic subjects - and that is in the best-case scenario that students pegged as 'non-academic' have the tenacity to stay in school until senior high.
The best case scenario in this system is that the high achievers in school go on to be higher achievers in their adult life, however there is very little provision for the low achievers. What is supposed to happen to the children that cannot adequately perform in standardised tests, have ways of learning that are incompatible with the current schooling model, or have ideas and passions that are not recognised within our testing criteria? If failure is designed into schools as a motivator then what happens to the students who 'fail' all of the way to the end of their schooling? Who do they become as adults? and how is this 'winners or losers' mentality positive for our society, when students become adults and we are focused on becoming a winner - which ultimately ensures that others will need to be losers for winners to succeed?
This winners and losers mentality is something that translates into every part of adult life - from our financial wealth where some make a minimum wage which is barely enough to survive on, while others have wealth that far exceeds their greatest needs and desires, to our environment, where wealthier countries enjoy cleaner air and water, while poorer countries bear the burden of our waste.
Whilst there are people who are working on improving the system for students currently in schools, as home educators (or aspiring home educators) we are in prime position to make significant changes to our families, communities and society as a whole by taking a holistic approach to education and encompassing this ideology in our home study. By thinking about competition and standardised achievement in terms of what affects this winners and losers mentality will have on the world in general we can be an empowering force in mitigating the negative affects of educational competitiveness in our society.