“I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”
Richard Feynman (Theoretical Physicist)
Feynman’s insight offered in this quote asks some serious questions about the unwitting consequences of how mainstream education in South Africa assesses its learners. The consequence I wish to hold to the fire is what can be referred to as “the tyranny of the red pen”. Our children are brought up to be afraid of being wrong, despite
CURIOSITY being one of the key skills and dispositions required by today’s world and economy.
Our children unlearn their naturally deep capacity for curiosity, particularly when they get to their high schooling, for fear of the red pen crossing out their ideas, or because teachers are under severe time pressure to meet the deadlines of completing an ever-growing range of prescribed content and the assessment needs of the National Senior Certificate. Thus, it can often happen that robust, compelling classroom discussion is laid waste in order to complete the burgeoning content in time for some or other piece of assessment. For me, this is horribly counter-intuitive.
All human beings are born with an insatiable curiosity. One just needs to cast your mind back to when your child was 2 and the inordinate number of times their little mouths uttered the words ‘why?’, ‘where?’, ‘how?’ and ‘what?’. They are possessed of a natural propensity to question how things work or why things are the way they are. Formal education should nurture and seek out opportunities to celebrate this disposition.
We must undertake to provoke questions in our young people instead of answering them. Google can answer almost any question; the key is to know which question to ask, to whom, and when. Since
9/11, the world has become an increasingly less certain place. There are fewer absolute truths upon which humanity can rely. Our world requires new solutions for challenges both old and new. And these new solutions will come from CURIOSITY, and not from pre-determined, neatly-packaged answers and approaches to new challenges.
Thus, let our children question our answers, let them challenge our adult paradigm of “because I told you so.” Heaven alone knows that we’ll desperately need them to do so in their future.
I am pleased to inform you that our inaugural Homegrown programme is good to go on Thursday 29 June. We have a dynamic range of parents (both past and present) and alumni who have volunteered to spend time engaging our Grade 9-12 pupils about their careers and the realities of the world at work. This programme will run from 9:00-12:00 and will include informal group chats and more formal presentations throughout the morning. I am incredibly excited about the launch of Homegrown. Before then, you will all receive a “key” which highlights the range of careers/professions/spheres of interest being showcased on the day. I urge you to initiate discussions at home with your child/ren about which speakers he/she must engage to gain relevant, purposeful insight into potential post-schooling options.
HS FINAL WEEK OF TERM
I will share the final details about the last week of term in next week’s Horse’s Mouth.
In closing, I would like to thank Mr Oberholzer (Rugby), Mrs Wolmarans (Netball), Mrs Steenkamp (Boys’ and Girls’ Hockey), our parents, players, coaches and managers for an outstanding sports season. It was busy, focused, intense and, most importantly, offered our children challenges, teamwork opportunities to experience fun as team mates. Thank you all!