If I had been taught from the beginning, would my fears now be winning? – Pearl Jam, Education
I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered about Serbian education system. Probably not. Well, here’s an easy explanation of how it works: it doesn’t.
It’s supposed to work like this: give kids eight years of primary education, that should be enough for them to decide what they want to do with their lives. Based on that, they choose a high school, and based on that choice they can or cannot go to a certain faculty, a choice that results out of twelve previous years of education.
It is seemingly designed to give us as much choice as possible. However, in Serbian high schools, you only get to choose which one you go to. Most schools have two, three or several educational profiles, often not too different from each other, so you pick one of them, and based on that, you get a list of subjects you’ll be studying in the next four years. No choices. Nobody asks you about your interests. You don’t get to say “I would like to study this” or “I’m not at all interested in this” about anything.
Another problem about Serbian education is its poor quality. As for the teachers, they suck. I’ve been at school for almost twelve years now, and I’ve had maybe five good teachers out of, say, fifty. They have little knowledge of either what they’re supposed to be teaching, or how they’re supposed to be teaching it. Most of the time they don’t even bother – not even with talented students who attend competitions. On the other hand, the entire web of subjects and the division of their parts into our school years is done quite badly. We’re taught to separate and divide rather than to connect and make a whole of our knowledge; what we end up with is an insecure mind with little knowledge and less certainty of how, when and whether it’s even possible to use it. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What have I been doing for the past twelve years of my life? And then your mind snaps as you realize: shit! I’m supposed to do something with what I’ve learned! But what? How can I, when I haven’t learned anything?
That’s when it turns out that actually, all this time, you were just wasting time. There’s a handy word for that in Serbian – džabalebarenje. It means sitting around, doing nothing, or doing something insignificant.
Why is nobody focusing on this? Why does no one think of this? Is everyone really so indifferent about their education? I want to learn – to actually learn! If school can’t teach me, than what’s it for?