Classroom Clashes

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

When I left school at 16, I didn't do it with the bold teenage-angst that I'd love to recall. I was petrified.
It wasn't necessarily fear of waving good bye to the comfort of structure, but instead waving in a working world in which I'd had zero preparation for in the decade I'd spent studying in the lead up.
That alone, speaks volumes.

Formal education for a great deal of people is brilliant, it's an experience that is laden with life lessons that you don't tend to appreciate until it's all a vague memory.

I mean, I thank school for my tolerance of idiots and my brief knowledge on the world war but that's where it stops.

I really loathed school, I hated the starched uniforms and the 60's classrooms, the lack of enthusiasm for a career in anything higher than hairdressing. It all holds quite ironic considering I left school in 2011, not 1973. I spent the majority of my time balanced on a makeshift pedestal where I felt anything I was doing with a teacher that might further my future, I could do alone and actually enjoy it.

There is a multitude of issues with the current education system that none of us have time to recite nor read, but some are seriously so simple to mend it leaves me at a total loss as to why so many things are overlooked.

Creativity is overlooked, a sweet and quaint gimmick that might be rewarded with a portrait spot in the headmasters office, but any other physical accolades can be forgotten.
We must be academic, we must be mathematical, well versed and scientifically profound.
Put down your camera and pick up your calculator, creativity wont get you a job. Or at least not one that will benefit the government of which writes our syllabus and our scholastic structure, the on that begs in vain, university, of which they profit unimaginable sums, is the only direction.

There is no room for 'passes'.
Underachievers skip lessons for incentive days to theme parks for trying hard and overachievers pulled from their timetables to be glossed in gifted and talented meetings.
Those in between? Left in a half filled classroom feeling less than average for scoring just above the national average.
How is this encouraging a generation to reach their potential? How is this nurturing young minds? How is this any remote reflection of the real world in which we are all soon to be turfed into?
-Sure, a raise might be on its way if you do well, but you can forget a trip to Thorpe Park if you're struggling.

If teachers spent as much time speculating real attributes and commending qualities as they did ridiculing loose ties and too short skirts, would we feel more inclined to stop being so wound up with the importance of appearance and the dull lack of individuality that's encouraged and instead care to crave what strengths our personalities held?
Why don't you teach young boys the vulgarity of staring at my arse in school hours instead of shunning my pencil skirt?

My art teacher had an innate talent of making 15 girls cry simultaneously in one lesson. If I'd been given a pound for every time she told me my passion and skill had no match for the fashion industry and that I'd never get my foot in the door, I could probably have paid for my celebration dinner that followed after I landed my first styling job at Burberry, aged 16, fresh out of school, art coursework shoved firmly up -
the back of the painting shelf.

Being free and artistic still has many intellectual attributes - you're not compromising how academic you are by being creative.
One thing I've learnt since my school hiatus, in the creative industry, people value people not institutions.
They value drive and creative capabilities, forward thinking out of the box individuals.
You'll have to work your arse off to prove it, but I'd rather spend my teen years pushing myself as a person than bowing down to the governments ideals.


  1. I hear you. But this isn't just a fault to the government's face (I'm not British but I believe this is a universal issue), this is also because of the society we grew up in. The thing is, we've been brought up in a world where generations upon generations fought for the rights to study. I personally understand why our mothers and fathers would nag us to no end for pursuing a communications or arts degree which would "not make us rich in the near future." However, I agree with you on the notion that the real world can teach us way bigger things than our classrooms can ever handle. I think this all falls on who you are as a person and what you stand for. Some people learn better by the book because "knowing" is a great way to boost their confidence. Some people, like you and me I believe, learn better by "being" because we're brave enough to try things without really knowing what's going to happen and by this we become more confident.

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  3. This is beyond true and so well written. I agree, what happens to the students that fall between the cracks and are left down there..

  4. I think this is true in many ways, but I also think its wrong in many ways. I think that it can be difficult to find the balance between overachievers and those who don't care at all but it is possible. I've had teachers who are supportive and who are inspiring and they push you to be your best, but I've also had teachers who dismissive and cynical. It is very situational. For some people, being in school is their best option even if they are not pursuing maths or science, and for others leaving schooling is a better option. I think a lot of people like to point flaws in the schooling system (and believe me there are many) but they also forget what a blessing an education is.

    Also a flaw I find personally is that people think by going to school you are compromising your ability to flourish as an individual, but I think there really is a beauty in being surrounded both by like minded people and opposite thinkers, it helps you find your place in the world. Of course I am biased as I pursue my post-secondary education in a field I genuinely enjoy (although that is debatable as I post this comment instead of studying) I think school, like many things can really be what the individuals makes it. I ultimately think the reason people push for education is it provides security, what you've been able to do Charly without pursuing your education is beautiful and inspiring and in all honesty I envy you, but there are also many people who fail. Not continuing your studies is a risk, but then again so is continuing to study. Its all quite the gamble.

  5. I wanted to leave a comment but I kind of went out of all the premitted sizes of comment and decided to make my reaction post which (if you are interested of course) you can find here

    In other words, I got your point but I'm a member of another club here.

  6. I feel like someone just wrote down everything I've been trying to say for last two years, while putting myself through the hell of sixth form. Thank you. oh and you write beautifully!

  7. I agree with a lot of this and it is beautifully written. However, i'm not clear whether you think that by going through education a-levels and uni or further, you can't also be creative. Surely for some people it is better to get a degree? For example google was created by phd students at Stanford, and i would say its pretty creative? Im not sure if i misunderstood, but i enjoyed the post nonetheless xx

    1. Its suggesting more that secondary schools prepare students for A levels and university for more academic courses. A university degree is not right for everyone.If its not its fine, your world doesn't stop spinning. I can relate to this article as I am 15 and hopefully doing A-levels in September.x

  8. This is so true! The education system in the UK doesn't cater for under achievers or students who have a talent in the creative industry.I have experienced this myself as I'm not academically smart but really enjoy being creative whether is drawing or creating a arty project such as making a dress. Its atrocious to think creative people are being down graded because these people are likely to be the ones who are moving forward in times and renovating the future of the UK. I love this blog! Beautifully written! x

  9. This was incredibly interesting to read! I'm not sure what my overall opinion is but it certainly has stirred something.

  10. This post is incredible and this:,' I thank school for my tolerance of idiots and my brief knowledge on the world war but that's where it stops.' basically sums up my previous school experience - I agree with everything you say. Although I am academic, teachers shunned the idea of studying catering after leaving school - creativity is just as important as being academic; if not more. Creativity builds personality - why not grab a camera instead of a calculator!

  11. Honestly. I spent four years of my life in School killing myself to get grades in subjects I didn't even care about, to impress people I haven't even seen again. I did nothing but study because I thought if I could get all 7s in my finals it would somehow validate my intelligence and by default my value. So I started learning to regurgitate textbooks, I turned my brain into an automatic thesaurus, I stopped thinking about things in terms of relate ability and humour and I forgot even having a different perspective on a philosophical issue. My art portfolio ceased being something that I poured myself into, and started being something that I thought of in terms of grade boundaries. And I got what I wanted, I graduated with good grades. Thinking I would go to University and I would finally be able to enjoy life and express myself creatively. But to be honest I had forgotten how to do both of those things. Two years later I have only just started to read, and sketch, to listen to music for the sake of it, and regain that thirst for knowledge that I used to prize. I don't regret school, I like that I have a diploma. But I constantly question if it was worth sacrificing my sanity for a sheet of paper.

  12. An interesting read. However it is not specific to artsy students only. Creativity can be found in everything. The government's apathy results in students who cannot find their place inside the system, and those who do find it become apathetic as well.
    Shared your post on twitter

  13. The Internet erased all boundaries and rolled the entire world into one - paperless, fast, and reliable sharing of information with a click of the mouse.writing prompts

  14. Hi Charly!

    This is my first time reading your blog and I am really enjoying it! I really appreciate this post, especially the last paragraph. Thank you :)

    - Issie



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