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And They Wonder Why People Cannot Think For Themselves!!! (Or - The Connection Between "Best Before" Dates And Academic Exams)
Have you ever felt that you are being forced to conform every single minute of every single day???

Have you ever wondered why we do some of the things we do???

We are bombarded with advice on how to do things.  Some of this advice had a point at some time but we still follow it - even though e know it is out of date.

Take "Best Before" dates on food.  We seem to have been trained to use these as a check to see if the goods are edible.  In fact, the only date which will tell you if something is still edible is the "Use By" date on dairy products - ignore the "Use By" date at your peril or you will suffer foodpoisioning as a result.

The other thing is how English and other subjects should be taught (and if parents are allowed to take their children on holiday during term time).

I seem to remember someone saying that "Phonetic Spelling" was going to be a big craze in the 1970's and 1980's - thanks in part to Slade and their badly spelled song titles.

Instead, children today are being grilled on the different parts of sentences (nouns, adverbs, etc) without being given the tools to use them to make sense of what they are reading.  Never mind the fact that this "Clinical" way of teaching English does nothing for the idea of reading for pleasure or even writing for pleasure.

I was so tempted to type a sentence in Dutch at that point and leave you to work out what it said.  Then I realised that would be seen as me "showing off" - as well as assuming you at least had the basic understanding of the Dutch language in order for you to translate what I had typed.

When I was at Primary School we didn't see an exam paper.  We had to read to the teacher, we got dictation, we got mental arithmetic.  Basically, other ways were found to test us without us realising what was going on.

The world is becoming a very scary place.  However, we can control how scary we make it for each other by allowing ourselves and others to work things out for themselves.

You could call it "Going Back To Basics" if you want to.  However, that is the only way we will learn that there are some situations which do not have an example in a textbook.  Whilst I could have learned Dutch from a textbook (especially if I had attended a school where I could have taken a GCSE in Dutch in place of German) - there is no textbook on Planet Earth which will tell me how to deal with my level of sight.  As it is I managed to learn both by a process of Trail and Error.

We need to make thinking fun again - we also need to make learning about things seem like an enjoyable activity.

There is a Dutch chef on YouTube called Rene Pluijm who shows you how to make delicious food (in Dutch - but the videos are rather self-explanatory).  He makes it clear that he wants you to use his recipes as a starting point and add or remove ingredients according to your tastes (or even what you have available).

So next time you decide to find a textbook to help you with something or you start following "Recieved Wisdom" about a certain subject - stop and think about how you would like to try to solve it.  Experience is - after all - the best teacher. 

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