" It is the school's job to break the natural man, subdue and greatly reduce him ; in accordance with principles sanctioned by authority "
Hermen Hesse, The Prodigy.
I came upon this book when I was venturing out in a local bookstore called Skoob. The bookstore was actually closed at that time. But after a certain time of persuading and begging the owner, he let me venture in his little piece of heaven. It was one of the most amazing places I've ever known. Simply an exquisite wonder.
It didn't take me long to finish the book. It has only 157 pages but the impact the book has given me is something that could last for a while. This book was a clear criticism towards education system. Written originally in 1905 - more than a 100 years and it is still relevant on today's generation.
[Spoiler Alert: If you haven't read the book, I might advise you to not read further]
The book started of with a promising tale of a boy with a bright future named Hans. His future was bright - Everyone wanted to teach and be beside him as he was one of the brightest student of the village. For so long, he was told to work hard, study hard and go to one of the most prestigious school of the nation. He did so.
Everyone from the priest to the teacher predicted that his future was bright and that success would come to him as long as he studied harder. And that is what little Hans did. He didn't look left or right but straight ahead. Getting headaches as he was pressured by people around him.
Note that in this story the best and most amusing character would be the shoemaker. Later at the end of the story, a person as insignificant as a shoemaker would say something so profound that it even hit me.
Well, as the story of Han's life progress. He succumb into a deep depression and psychological breakdown. And later at the end of the story, failed miserably to accomplish the foretold and prediction that was predicted upon him. Dying a miserable and lonely death. Later as the father founds him dead, the shoemaker said one of the most interesting and profound thing to the father, he said it as if he predicted that Hans would not only failed but die a miserable death. It goes like this,
"There's a few of the gentleman (schoolmaster) who have helped to drive him to this. Don't you think that perhaps we failed the boy in many ways?"
It could be said, that this is a real good ending towards a strong book such as this. Many would agree that Siddhartha was one of Herman Hesse best book written by Hans, but I would say this is one of the strongest book written by him.
It was blatant and an accurate criticism towards the education system and what it has done to our society. But I would not as much criticize the book and point out its flaw let alone compare it to his other works. There are certain messages that was posed in this book : -
1) Have we as a society failed our children?
2) Have the education system failed us as a society?
A few weeks before I came upon this book, one of my friend decided to come out with the same question. Lets have a forum about it, discuss about it with other members of the society - he says. This is a brilliant suggestion actually. For his topic he choose a movie as a platform - Three Idiots. The 3 Idiots has the same thing in mind (almost) as what Hesse did. The failure of the educational system towards our society and its impact to us. But unlike Hesse works, the 3 Idiot was less dark and more humorous.
But really, there is a bunch of works (movies, novels etc) that has criticize our the education system in and its failure towards society. Other works would be - Dead Poets Society, 3 Idiots, History Boys
One book written by Sir Ken Robinson on the education system, he wrote : -
"We have a system of education that is modeled on the interest of industrialism and in the image of it. School are still pretty much organized on factory lines — ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches. Why do we do that?”
Are schools indeed a factory - in which produces only batches of student that is based on grades and performances and student may only become a person if and only if they get an A+? Lower than that, than you might as well stop dreaming.
You want to be a doctor? Get an A+.
A lawyer, get more than 6 A!
U got 2 A's? Aww, to bad u can only be housewife.
Is this how our education system is? Maybe 50 years ago, when a nation/country is developing it could be a right excuses for us to use this system. But 53 years later and we are still as the same exact point. A nation with its people are not an inanimate object, we are alive - we are like the trees - with time we need to grow and blossom and improve. With time, we need to we need to go forward. Like trees we need to aim for the sky - have u ever seen a tree grows backwards? Simple answer - no.
So what are we supposed to do about it? Should we stand and wait for another 53 years - hopping maybe perhaps the system will change? Or do we do something about it?
I'm worried about our next generation, hell I'm already worried about my current generations. There are a huge differences between a person who loves knowledge and a person who aims to get an A+. I don't believe getting an A+ means that you are smarter or better than the next person - its like any other things - materialistic. Its something you obtain but later in working life could not apply.
Now days, I don't have to look hard for those type of people who glues their face on books - aiming and struggling to get an A. Its easy to spot the nerd - spot the people sprawling on the floor reading - reciting every single letter, word, sentence in the textbook. Funny isn't it, now days the fate of your future lies on a piece of paper that determines your future. Funny right?
If you were the type of person who gets A+ almost all the time - but you don't have a fucking clue who Malcom X is... You know you are being fucked by the system. I have seen people, reciting, reading, remembering every single words they read - and yet they have no clue what they are reading. Ask them about current issues - their faces blanked. Their reply - "Its not in the textbook, should I know about it?".
If you are those type of people,I will - laugh at your face. Take my word for it. Keep in mind.
I have more respect for intellectually savvy people instead of textbook savvy ones.
I hate the system - I am drowned by the system. I have been in it more than 10 years, and I say "Fuck the system". I want to - shove my middle finger. Enough is enough. When will our education system change? When we will produce visionaries instead of labour workers?
Writer feels dismay and appalled by the education system in Malaysia.
Disclaimer : This doesn't have anything to do with anyone I know dead or alive.