Thankfully, we have abolished drill and repeated practice from our classrooms. Now, instead of the deadening submission to adult authority, we have the liveliness and joy of youthful discovery. The surprise and delight of finding many different answers to problems has replaced the tyrannical imposition of so-called ‘correct’ answers upon our citizens of tomorrow.
This joy of discovery must now spread to every area of education. Shockingly, the mind-numbing experience of obeying explicit instructions and working silently still exists in some areas of school life. We cannot afford to destroy the free decision making capacities of our democratic youth with such retrograde practices.
A notable example of the survival of right wing, reactionary approaches is the continued practice of fire drill. Fire drill! The very name should send tremors of disgust through all free thinking, right minded people. Unbelievably, even though we are living in the twenty-first century, we are still subjecting our pupils to the psychological trauma of obeying orders and marching silently to the fire assembly area. We might as well make them wear brown shirts and goose step out of their classrooms. The fire bell might as well be replaced by broadcasting ‘The Flight of the Valkyries’ across the school announcement system. This tyranny must stop!
We cannot expect any student to take an interest in a problem imposed upon him by authority, so we must first create a real life problem for students to solve. This could most effectively be achieved by burning down one of the school buildings. To add a further stimulation for real life problem solving, we should ensure one of the cleaning staff is trapped in the building which burns down. Their cries of agony as the flames engulf them will inspire our students to form discussion groups to resolve the fire risk problem.
At no point should we intervene and impose ‘correct’ answers on these groups. Young people’s creativity must not be stifled by artificial adult interference. It may be that they decide to conduct further pyrotechnic experiments, perhaps making use of one of the less popular students. The creative, problem-solving capacities of the young are so powerful that they often come up with surprising approaches that no adult would have considered.
I have no doubt that once the stifling conservatism of the traditional approach is removed, our young people will come up with exciting new ways of dealing with emergencies. And of course, thanks to the innovative methods used, they will actually remember the lessons they have learned. The sacrifice of a school cleaner and one or two of the less popular students is a small price to pay for the true joy of discovery learning!