Miss Bowls’s class in an unidentified girls’ school (Not my school!) Date: circa 1905 Source: postcard


When I was at school, I would think, “I hope I don’t die soon. Because then all these hours spent in history, french, maths, biology, geography etc. lessons would have been wasted. I could have spent those hours doing more interesting and fun things, like hanging out with my friends. But maybe I’ll need to know all this stuff when I’m older, like when I have a grown up job or something.”

You know what? I’m older now, and I have a “grown up” regular 9-5 job, and not once have I been asked to explain what a glacial moraine is, or a motte and bailey, or list the irregular verbs in french that our teacher used to make us recite over and over and OVER again! None of it has been useful in my career. Even my PhD in Physics didn’t actually involve any of the science I learned at high school, and all the science I did need to know was in books or papers that I could look up.

The things I wish I’d learned at school: how to have a conversation with my spouse without feeling defensive, how to file a tax return, how to be able to socialise with a group of friends without needing alcohol in my glass, how to find the cheapest flights online, how to discover and cultivate my true passions, how to fix a leaky tap, how to be a good working parent without feeling constant guilt…

The list goes on.

And you know what makes me really sad? Seeing my sons having to go through the same education system as I did, thirty years on. Actually, their curriculum seems to be even more ridiculous and a waste of time nowadays, as I’m pretty sure I wasn’t having to learn about conjunctive verbs when I was six! If I did, then I’ve forgotten them, which proves my point!

Let’s stop trying to pretend our children are robots living in the Victorian era. Let’s educate them in a meaningful, useful way in the 21st century. Let them learn programming, social skills and how to live in peace with people from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds. Let them play games using their imagination, and learn to use their bodies and minds actively instead of staring at screens for hours on end.

Maybe then they won’t wake up thirty years on thinking, what’s the point? Why have I wasted so much of my life on such superficial, irrelevant nonsense?

Let kids be kids.

Children happy at school. (Also not my school.) Source: Montessori school website.