14 November 2008

“I blog, therefore I am”

After an enforced absence from the virtual world, the time is right to return with remarks about the world around me.

I am moved to comment about the student demonstration in Berlin this week, in which high school pupils and other students neglected their studies for a few hours in order to voice their demands for more teachers, more equipment, more money, more everything. En route, they passed outside the historical main building of Humboldt University and some decided to enter the main foyer in order to make their grievances more blatant, in case anyone was still in any doubt. They did this by launching countless rolls of toilet papers from the upper windows into the courtyard, throwing litter around the foyer and destroying an exhibition that was informing visitors in the main entrance. Photocopiers, notice boards and furniture were also rendered useless. Police were caught offguard and Berliner Zeitung reports that the demonstration was accompanied by members of extremist groups (as is the norm in situations like this) – it was a pleasant morning, not raining and they probably had nothing better to do that day.

There comes a point in one’s education (whatever the student’s age and particular situation) where you have to take charge of your own learning growth. Yes, equipment, teachers’ salaries, facilities, teacher/student ratios etc. etc. are important – but only up to a certain point. The student cannot blame a lousy school system for the deficiencies in his education when he himself never opens a book of his own accord, never does any independent research, never questions or takes initiatives, always watches television with religious fervour or hangs about street corners. While students are young, the onus is on the parents as well as the school to ensure that the child begins his education as he means to go on. The parents cannot absolve themselves of all responsibility: they too must teach their child (where “teach” here is used in all senses of the word).

Teaching and learning are reciprocal actions. Learning is not a passive activity such as, for example, watching television. Perhaps by putting all the blame on the state, detractors are looking for a hook on which to hang their own detachedness from the whole education system? Here endeth the first lesson.

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Squeaky Door by Elizabeth Chairopoulou is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.