Brian Edwards Media

“Why I hate school but love education.” Discuss


Comprehension (20%) : Discuss the artist’s approach to formal education as outlined in the video clip.

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  1. Have you seen this one as well?

  2. There is no doubt that testing prefers black and white right/wrong answers. Some kids are very good at giving what the system requires and would be non-plussed if asked to inquire for an answer which is not prescribed. (I haven’t been taught that!)
    So I reckon that those who can work the system AND use their minds to enquire and explore and step outside the system prescribed demands will be the winners.
    Ausabel would say look at the needs of an answer then use all the connected bits of information to design a method of answering. Even better if it is your own question for the question is the answer.

    • “So I reckon that those who can work the system AND use their minds to enquire and explore and step outside the system prescribed demands will be the winners”

      Why not change the system?

  3. And there is Sir Ken Robertson’s work challenging the current nature of education

  4. Both the content and the delivery are a work of art. Right on the money at every level. At the moment our species needs to take apart and reevaluate every single system/institution it has and every single thing it holds sacred, to make sure that we are not critically tripping ourselves up. Institutions close down free speech and thinking as soon as they grow fat, and this one thing will be our downfall if we don’t find a way to make sure that our institutions doors always remain open. Fear and lack of confidence is the enemy. Simple as that.

  5. While I agree with Suli Breaks on principle, it’s worth remembering that this is an articulate, intelligent, curious man who has had access to education (some of it through the school system), and he obviously has astute critical thinking and communcation skills. I very much doubt that he was the complacent kid in the class who said “who cares,” or ‘why do I need to know this.” He has been able to identify “knowledge” that was of little or no use to him, but also utlilize other aspects of knowledge that have made him the success that he is.
    I was reminded of ssomething I read in one of Stephen Fry’s autobiographies while watching this. Fry despaired (and I paraphrase here) of people who said they didn’t really get or do History at school. Fry’s response was that History is all around you, all of your life.

  6. Is there a link between women’s dominance in formal education and subservience in earnings?

    Formal education gives you a look through all the open doors into the world but life experience gives you the tools and drive to push open doors that are currently closed.

    In my experience an inspirational teacher is extremely rare. Rather there have been more interesting fellow students.

    • I am with Albert Einstein – another school drop out – who said ” “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”

      Certainly was true for me.

  7. Surely he is answering his own question. By having an education he gained the ability to think and interpret, even if his education was taught by rote. Individual one on one tutoring may produce better results, but are not possible with the limited resources which afflict most countries. His examples of non formally educated successful people distorts reality. An analogy could be the driver who would have been killed, if he had been wearing a seatbelt, but who was thrown from the car and lived. In most cases an education could only benefit the recipient. The exception should not be allowed to become the rule.

    • 7.1

      A formal education doesn’t necessarily teach you to think. It teaches you to give the correct answers to known problems.

      Yes, we need plenty of people to run “the system” and do what they are told reliably. But to innovate and stretch the boundaries we need others, many of whom will fail and some will famously succeed.

      Frankly, we see this writ large at present in the charter schools debate. The system people are of one mind in opposition. The innovators want the chance to be different.

      • “A formal education doesn’t necessarily teach you to think. It teaches you to give the correct answers to known problems”.

        No, that is a false dichotomy. At its best, a formal education gives clever people the ability to think with resources they might not otherwise have – and avoid extremes, false turns, and horrendous pitfalls. For example, Henry Ford, who was favourably quoted in the video, for all his genius and wealth, used it to propagate virulent anti-semitism.

        At its best, formal education also gives the not-so-orginally clever people (i.e., most of us) the ability to improve our thinking and skills, thus potentiall fostering our innovative skills.

        But as with all things in life, nothing is guaranteed. So some who receive formal education abrogate their responsibilty to ultimately think for themselves, and end up simply parroting the correct answers to known problem.

        A good formal education system, and clever and brave poeple can combine to produce valuable innovation. However, while you can never do without clever and brave people in the innovative process, some can still do it in spite of a bad formal education system, or at one that stifles innovation.


          I’ll rephrase it. You can only graduate from formal education if you can give the correct answers to known problems. You do not have to think originally or creatively.

          Yes, you will exit knowing more about what other people have thought and knowing and how to get the correct answers to known problems. You will become a useful tool for creative people to hire.

    • You have an alarming faith in the current education system rick. You assume his ability to think and interpret was entirely the result of his school based education. I think he is trying to say this is often not the case.

  8. 8

    The cockney accent was too thick for me, to watch past the one-minute mark, Guv.

  9. Lil’ Wayne Carter – teenage mother, biological dad abandons the family when he’s 2. He’s lucky to have caring and loving father figures, but one of them was murdered . .

    But here’s the thing – Carter was enrolled in the gifted program of Lafayette Elementary School when he was really, really little, so he could later say:

    And mama don’t cry, ya son can handle his
    I got her out the hood and put her in the Hills

    Yeah, when I was fourteen I told my mom we will see better days
    And sure enough I got Miss Cita in a better place
    When I was fourteen I told my mom we will see better days
    And sure enough we did exactly what I say

    Lil’ Wayne – 3 Peat

    Quality counts in education and a little often goes a long way with the gifted.

  10. A lifetime. That’s education.

  11. Umm, am I being a clever dick calling upon a bit of common sense supplemented by what has been enhanced in my formal education opportunities and choices by pointing out that when he quotes the popularly stated reasons for formal education: –

    “It increases your chances of getting a job…

    It provides you with an opportunity to be successful…

    Your life will be a lot less stressful…

    Education is the key”

    and then challenges those assumptions with the transtion: –

    “Now let’s look at the statistics…

    Steve Jobs. Net worth seven billion, RIP

    Richard Branson. Net worth 4.2 billion”, etc…

    he isn’t using statistical information at all.

    Instead, the statistically-unlikely-to-be-repeated-in-the-lives-of-most-people evidence he is using to support the premise are…


    Just saying.

    • 11.1

      Yep, rhetoric rather than analysis. But still compelling.

      • Just like every party political broadcast that utilises multi-media to massage existing prejudices :)


          Not quite. Statistically of course education to high levels is associated with higher than average income and standard of living. However, individual human achievement is not bound by those statistical distributions as the anecdotes and history show.

    • Indeed!
      He’s selective in his anecdotes when he overlooks the Larry Pages and Sergey Brins of this world or the fact that their work came out of universities that supported them, the same goes for Zuckerberg and Gates. The stories of these entrepreneurs is very much the story of the educational institutions that nurtured them.

      He also overlooks the fact that Jobs and Branson got where they were by surrounding themselves and employing well educated engineers, lawyers, accountants, designers, and marketers.

    • don’t forget the coupe dee grace

  12. Richard Astons links are definitely thought provoking and entertainingly presented.Hekia Parata is most definitely not the person to rescue our education system from the mire that presently exists. Rudolf Steiner schools seem to provide some of the answers to the present doldrums education has reached.

    • 12.1

      To the contrary, moat advocates for charter schools would have little difficulty with Robertson’s objectives whereas the opposition who believe all children should have exactly the same public education would find them anathema in practice if not in theory.

      • Exactly Alan.
        Robertson talks about an education system built in the Industrial revolution , it was built then on industrial models. Alvin Toffler in Third Wave did a detailed analysis of education as an industrial model. His take was much darker ie schools were designed to produce factory fodder. He talked about the sub curriculum ie Show up on time, move from place to place at the ring of a bell, stay in one place until the end of the day, do as your told. Yes it taught reading, writing and basic maths because these skill were needed in the factory system etc.
        The original public education system was designed to train people for a set of roles in industry.

        Creativity , innovation, the ability to truly think , ethical thinking, social thinking were not part of the plan.

      • 12.1.2

        If America is anything to go by, Charter Schools are highly regimented, factory schools that are quite happy to reject anyone who doesn’t fit in to their system. It’s all “teach to the test” and “test prep”.

        NACT want Charter School, not because they are good for education, but because they are good for business people.

    • Steiner Schools are better but still have their issues. They are still based on the industrial education model. I don’t say that lightly I have been involved in Steiner education for 20+ years.

      • 12.2.1

        So if the industrial model is out of date what should the modern equivalent be?

        What is the modern workplace? Very varied. So surely schools should offer a similar range of structures?

        Which comes back to some of the rationale for charter schools – that business should be more involved in the provision of education.

        • It appears that most of the above authors have a very narrow and superficial view of what really goes on in our educational institutions. Many of you spout theories that you have come across but know little about, especially in regards to the development of the human brain and the hierarchy of learning. Its a pity that I have endured a lot of uninformed “literature”. I was hoping for something more enlightening.

          • Johan,
            That is far too easy to dismiss contributions to a discussion as the uninformed spouting of theories but contribute nothing yourself.
            Tell us more of your theories of “development of the human brain and the hierarchy of learning” .


            I await with interest your contribution to enlightenment.

        • Good question Alan.
          Linking modern schools to the modern workplace and getting business – employers – more integrated is one way if we agree the outcome of education is specific skills for employment.
          Sir Ken Robertson argues that our world is changing at such a pace that we do not know what skills the future modern workplace will require of children staring their education today. In 20 years time we really have no idea what will be needed.
          I suspect a more diverse approach may be needed. At one level what would a general education look like, one not specifically focused on employment based skills outcomes?
          Sir Bob Jones famously said he only employed people who had studied the classics and would never employ a BCom. He wanted people who could think, reflect and make sense of history.
          Steiner schools – at their best – aim for a general education of the whole person, including the social sphere.

          I meet many young people who are school failures , they just couldn’t work with the academic approach to learning. They would have been better of with trade skills learning on the job.

          The other point Sir Ken Robinson makes is about the process of revealing a person’s natural talents and innate developmental path ie we are all very different , will learn at a different pace at different times in our maturation. I have seen this over and over with my kids and with other kids I have worked with. I have seen specific skills learned surprisingly quickly if grounded in a strong sense of self and a clear motivation.


            To some degree it doesn’t matter what you study so long as it is with depth, quality and enjoyment. It is certainly true that people learn in different ways as well as with different interests.

            It is also true in my experience of teaching that a class that can produce similar results in course work assignments produce a much wider range of results in academic examinations. I became unconvinced that examination results were necessarily a good measure of general ability. They are good for selecting academics.

      • Could you indicate statistically, that Steiner schools are better, generally, or is it better for just for a few individuals who cannot cope with a “traditional” education?

        • Johan I suggest you google Steiner Education – or Waldorf Education – and find out for yourself.

          Your phrase ” is it better for just for a few individuals who cannot cope with a “traditional” education” is telling. You have already made you mind up on this and now we play the Socratic game of you ask questions that I am meant to answer to eventually prove how wrong I am .

          No thanks, never did get much from that one.

  13. “I have seen specific skills learned surprisingly quickly if grounded in a strong sense of self and a clear motivation.”
    It sounds so simple in theory, but practice provides a far different reality. Any teacher worth his salt should be able to achieve this. With my limited experience in education (and more recently through my children)I was aghast at the ability (or lack of)of some of the teachers.
    Part of the problem may exist in the ability and motivation of some teachers.

    • I wasn’t expounding a theory rather talking from experience , mine and what I have seen in others. Yes great teachers can see each student’s individual strengths and needs and work with those. The reality is they are rare, in my experience anyway. This in of itself could be a weakness of the current education systems , they don’t attract great teachers. I personally know of 4 teachers, with the potential of greatness, who just couldn’t work within the system and choose other careers.
      Perhaps the system itself expects too much from teachers. They have to be switched on to educating all day every day for all students of all abilities, cultures etc.

      I work in the mentoring field and way have a saying, Mentoring moments, a lot of the time its just showing up but occasionally a moment occurs – if you are watchful – when one word, a brief statement, an image opens up a whole new perception for the student. In that case its about timing and watchfulness. What if an education system allowed those moments to happen with ad hoc teachers?

      Why should a worthy education system need great teachers?
      Its true of any bad or faulty system that the occasional rock star will excel regardless.

      I think the challenge is to facilitate education as a series of learning opportunities. The right people in the right place at the right time.

      Just saying and hey I am no expert on education.

  14. AW and RA, if you know anything about education then you must be aware of the role that neuroanatomy (brain development) and the hierarchy of learning plays in education. If you want further elaboration of what I have pointed out, all you need to do is make a google search.

    • 14.1

      @Johan, the hierarchy is a trivial statement of the obvious whereas neuroanatomy is so far from being well understood that there is little reliable and useful it can contribute to education yet. I suggest most teachers know little about it and use less. Tell us differently if you wish.

      • AW, hardly trivial! Your assumptions about important things and flippant remarks, without facts to backup your replies, tells me a lot about the quality of thinking that you do.

    • Sure Johan, Bloom’s taxonomy has been playing a big part in formal education theory since the 50s and neuro science has given us some great insights some of which are no doubt very useful but its still in its infancy.

      I still don’t understand your point.

      As I understand it Bloom’s hierarchy of learning was developed to help formulate outcomes measurements ie testing and exams. The young man’s criticism is we teach young people to pass exams, to regurgitate “knowledge”, and not much else.

      The young man in the video wasn’t necessarily challenging the “technology” of learning rather the aims and scope of learning.

      Why do we want our young people to be educated and for what purpose, to what ends?

      Well that’s the questions I heard in his passionate rant.

      Wasn’t it interesting that his mode for expressing his criticism wasn’t an academic one it was the rhythm of Rap. Staccato poetry. Street education.

  15. 15

    @johan, your comments tell me nothing about the quality of thinking you do. Why not attempt to address the topic properly? For someone claiming educational expertise you are making a poor fist of educating us.