It always helps get an outside perspective on an issue. Let me give you an example.
I recently spoke to a highly qualified professional young person. In the conversation I was very puzzled by his queries about the meaning of words I considered to be general knowledge. During the conversation I discovered that there were huge “black holes” in his general knowledge. He grew up in South Africa, went to an elite school, spent four years at an elite university but yet had virtually no general knowledge. He lived in an extremely small world and could put very few things in a useful context. He therefore could not interpret social and political events around him.
This young man is a good example of the debate raging world wide in the education circles. “To what degree should students be EDUCATED in schools?” This is a touchy subject as many parents feel it is their responsibility to educate their own children in the sense of teaching them values and acceptable behaviour. So too was the church a teacher of values and morality in days gone past. Unfortunately today uncivilised behaviour is seen all around us. I recently saw a picture of two young men on facebook “zapping” into a security camera. The world is awash with uncivilised behaviour.
It is in this context that we at NLA also often discuss this issue. The consensus seems to be that the school has a responsibility to turn out not only well taught students, i.e. Getting good exam results, but also civilised citizens of the world. This is often very difficult to do as there are many competing influences in the lives in of students. While it would be unrealistic to be successful in every instance, it is nice to every now and then to receive a compliment on how well behaved our students are in public.
Recently a group of students attended a Shakespeare performance. While our students stood out by not having a school uniform (they all wore school T shirts). Members of the public noticed that our students were exceptionally well behaved and asked particulars about the school and how we operate.
The incident illustrates the importance of producing civilised and responsible students at the end of the day and not just academically high scores.