Not A Typical Teenager: Should We Be Taught Things That Matter?

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Should We Be Taught Things That Matter?

This week, I got to go to the House Commons in London and debate in the chamber that all of the elected politicians debate in. I got to do this because I am my local authorities Member of Youth
Parliament. These local authorities re grouped into regions. I was part of Wales, which had 19 MYP's in attendance. It was such a weird experience. I just remember sitting in the chamber and thinking "This cant be real. I can't actually be sitting here!"
Because sitting on parliament benches is for politicians!

We were debating on 5 different topics:
1) Stopping cuts to the NHS
2) Transport
3) Vote at 16
4) Tacking racial and religious discrimination
5) Curriculum for life

One person is picked from each region by Mr. Speaker (John Bercow), to speak about each topic, and you can only stand up to speak once. I wanted to speak on curriculum for life, which was the final debate, and I waited patiently for my turn. Unfortunately, when it came to debate curriculum for life, someone else from my region was selected to give their contribution.

At first, I was really disheartened, because I had spent all day preparing my speech and waiting to give it, and then when the time came I couldn't speak. However, afterwards I remembered that I have this little corner on the internet which I am writing on all the time to tell my story. Maybe as many people won't read it, but that doesn't matter, because at least I will have had my say.

So without further ado, this is what my contribution would have been for the curriculum for life debate:

What is a tax code? I'm not really sure, but I can tell you how to find the hypotenuse of a triangle. What is an IUD? Who cares, I know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of a cell. When we ask teachers why we are learning these things, they say that they are useful for specific career paths, which makes sense, but we need to learn things that will impact us outside our careers.

One of the reasons I have heard as a reason against a curriculum for life is that it puts strain on schools. In Wales, we have this subject that is called the Welsh Baccalaureate. This is a subject which is supposed to prepare us for university and the world of work. However, all of the work is spoon fed to us and it is so easy to forge your work that it isn't really doing anything to prepare us and just takes up 8 hours of my time a fortnight.

Another reason I hear against it is that teachers are not trained to teach such a curriculum. Well, in my area, they aren't really trained to teach the welsh bacc. We have teachers who teach history and geography and music teaching us what a Gantt chart is (how pointless) and they are qualified to do so because of , at most, a single training day.

The biggest reason I think that schools don't teach a curriculum for life is because you don't get a measurable outcome. They don't think improving PHSE or even introducing it increases pass rates. It doesn't matter if we leave school without these essential skills because no one is asking if we are. There are no exams in it in school because our exam starts as soon as we leave school. Unwanted pregnancy? No marks for you there. Take out a mortgage and keep on top of payments? five marks for you.

Schools aren't teaching it because we are not individuals in the big picture. We are parts of working mechanism that produces the next scientists and journalists. We are statistics, and nothing is more proof of it than this.

So there you have it. That would have been my speech in the House of Commons. What do you think? Do you disagree? Is a curriculum for life a good idea? Let me know in the comments.

Stay Un-Typical

Ashleigh xxx 


  1. I love your speech! I definitely agree with you, our pshe lessons should definitely be improved xx

    1. Thanks. I'm glad that you do agree with me!