Abolish Classrooms as Back Lanes Provide Curricula for Valuable Life Lessons

Cape Times (South Africa), January 20, 2009 | Go to article overview

Abolish Classrooms as Back Lanes Provide Curricula for Valuable Life Lessons


BYLINE: Peter Wilhelm

CARPING educationists complain the argument I powerpointed last week - that to fulfil the national policy of Outcomes Based Education (OBE), no learner should ever be required to learn anything - is false. Yet what else could fit them for life in the grown-up world after they leave home at 48, as required by law after reaching obesity?

On a diet of caramelised popcorn and mouldering Slurpees, how can they grasp that the bubbles trickling from Spiderman's snaggled palps represent conversation - not an attempt to breathe in a lavatory bowl? As an acne-racked teen I recall swopping comics with my fellow gangstas, and, awestruck, absorbing such mysteries as how badly drawn superheroes speak after trading genes with radioactive insects.

Lounging around back alleys - down which horses once sullenly plodded to collect the night soil - a universe of explanation was gratuitously offered by the assorted perverts and slackers nesting there.

Thus, I learnt superheroes determine the gender of their chromosomes by removing their genes ([c] Evelyn Holtzhauzen); that irritable bowel syndrome is triggered by listening to ABBA; that if you lack wool you can knit a sweater with parboiled spaghetti; and that punani is a species of Indonesian fruit.

What do these factoids have in common, apart from being of befouled authenticity? No one ever, ever thought to enlighten me about them at the "formal" school I was compelled to attend from the age of four when my parental menage a quatre exiled me from the communal Kool-Aid yuck bowl. I took my Marie Osmond dolls with me.

Everything truly valuable in my life - from the truism that if a scrofulous Brak licks your ripped pecs, don't lick back; to the civilised politesse of letting fly with an immense belch after starters at a state banquet - has come from twitters and gossip in the sanitary lane. That's real OBE - so inventing private curricula in some stenchy classroom is silly.

If anything, my downloaded lifestyle has been irremediably blighted by a deficient "education". At St Bastard's Primary - where I boarded in the hyena kennels - I was cursed with a Housemaster known to all as Dumbo. …

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Abolish Classrooms as Back Lanes Provide Curricula for Valuable Life Lessons
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