School looms on the horizon as parents and their charges begin the compulsory journeys to places of learning. The word ‘school’, which derives from a Greek word for leisure is now associated with stress-producing frenetic activity as the pressures of a demanding curriculum (a word derived from a Latin word for race course!) increase the frequency and intensity of testing and grading that soon become tools for labelling the personal worth of the student from pre-school to graduate level.
Part of the problem, which is not peculiar to this period of history though we experience it with particular intensity, arises from the changes in the way the societies of the world operate, changes which are not uniform or linear. So, for example, information technology and traditional worldviews form an uneasy coalition which brings into sharp relief issues of inequality of access based on economics, gender perceptions, class barriers and geographical location.
By far the most significant contributor to the stressors of education is the confusion about the purpose of education. Do we set out for school on Monday morning for our personal enhancement so that the individual develops a cultural identity and a personal autonomy as well as acquiring a set of skills and information that will enable her to establish a career?