Is it true that many students do not have a good experience at school? asks Brian Isaacs. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Is it true that many students do not have a good experience at school? asks Brian Isaacs. Pictures: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Is it true that many students do not have a good experience at school?

By Brian Isaacs Time of article published Jul 16, 2021

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Is it true that many people in the world do not have a good experience of school? One often reads various opinions of people on this topic. Across the world, some have questioned the usefulness of schools. There is the personal experience of people at school and the view of others at the schools they attended.

Many complaints have been raised about schools which include the following:

  • the curriculum is not in line with what happens in real-life.
  • schools are far removed from the world of technology. A criticism often levelled by businesses against public schools.
  • schools are too academic and do not give students practical skills needed in the workplace situation.
  • students drop out of school, especially at high school because they do not cater to the needs of students.

Is it true that many students do not have a good experience at school? As a teacher, I would hope not. I enjoyed my primary and high school days. I attended Rosmead Primary School in Claremont- an area affected by the Group Areas Act.

The teachers made my experience as a student enjoyable. My high school experience likewise at South Peninsula High in Diep River Cape Town (also affected by the Group Areas Act), was interesting and gave me a good academic and political education.

On reflection of my experience as a student at these two schools I asked myself the question why did I enjoy my experience at these two schools:

Firstly what struck me was that, as students, we were recognised as human beings, not as students of a particular "race".

I remember a teacher at high school Mr Rudolf Murphy said: "We do not talk of a dog or cat race why should we talk of a human race- we are just humans!"

Our teachers although we did not have all subjects which the apartheid government offered their students, always fought to have a curriculum with as many subjects as possible.

Teachers went out of their way to encourage us to be involved in extramural activities (cultural activities and sport). At primary school, we were exposed to the way of life in other countries. Our English teachers encouraged us to go to the Athenaeum in Claremont for plays and debates. Our high school English teacher, the South African writer Richard Rive gave us lectures on Shakespearian works.

At high school, we would be exposed to literature from the TLSA (Teachers' League of South Africa) giving us insight into the political landscape of South Africa and the world.

At primary and high schools we competed in a variety of sports. We had to participate in athletics and a winter sport. Students were encouraged by the schools to join community sports clubs and play club sport on a Saturday.

Schools must be enjoyable places to be at. If they are not the parents, teachers and students must reflect on why school is not enjoyable!

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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