Why am I here? is a question with endless connotations and infinite avenues of exploration. Most people will offer a different response even if they share an almost identical context. Despite the elusive and fluid nature of the question, it is one of fundamental importance; to ignore it is to forget purpose.
I think Matt's blog last month was a vivid exploration of this very question. The difference between tomatoes grown at home and tomatoes on the super market shelf is undeniable. It is actually a challenge to produce the 'bland watery balls of nothing' you find in those neon aisles. So what an earth are they doing there!? Why are they here? If you were to ask Mr Supermarket that very question, I'd be willing to bet my left lung that he'd say: “Why, to make me fistfuls of cash of course. What a ridiculous question” or something to that effect.
We all know this. If Mr Supermarket wants to spend his time collecting currency, then that is his prerogative and he is welcome to it. I don't have to buy those tomatoes. What I find worrisome is when you apply the 'why am I here?' question to schools, of which attendance is mandatory.
This blog is way too short and I am way too under qualified to attempt a full exploration of that question right here, right now. But so are the vast majority of us. Does that mean we should just ignore the question completely? Should we just accept that gaining 5 A-Cs is of vital importance? Is what Ofstead says about a school both true and relevant?
What I would like to offer for your consideration right now is a short anecdote.
My Brother is 33, he is a good husband and a loving father. He owns a large, handsome house (which he renovated himself) and is a highly qualified telecoms technician. By all accounts he is doing well for himself. That said, he didn't achieve 5 A-Cs and as a result will quite happily declare that he is a failure and intellectually inferior. Such is the legacy of his schooling.
His experience at school, like that of so many others, has no real relevance to the world he inhabits today. At no point has knowing the plot of Romeo and Juliet helped him out and never has he completed long division on paper. The same is true for me and I made it through university. You've no doubt heard a similar anecdote before.
The content is actually irrelevant, to get 5 A-Cs you have to remember a load of stuff that somebody else has decided is important and regurgitate it in a very specific way come exam time. When you leave school it's done, never to be revisited. Get your C in maths/English/Science then forget about it forever.
This begs the important question; why are schools here? To encourage the development of skills that are necessary for survival in a dynamic and often unforeseeable future? Or to coach people to pass a very specific form of abstract examination? We strongly believe in the former and hope to be a part of the movement towards that end.