Opinion: What happened to free thought?

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As He confirmed in assembly a few days ago, and I have suspected for some time, pupils' marks for analysis and evaluations have been dropping over the last few years - I've been thinking about reasons for this.
After looking at where I had good grades and where bad, my conclusion was that there's too much spoon-feeding going on to allow analytical thinking skills to develop. Back in primary school we did experiments with no suggestion as to what was going to happen or why; we'd go and explore somewhere unknown and come back with results, which could be analysed and interpreted. In secondary school the emphasis tends to be on learning what should happen (eg formulae), then proving it - by knowing what's supposed to happen there's no need for analytical thought, we just match the results to a pre-defined pattern.

Thinking bigger, this can be applied to the education system as a whole - there's a general lack of free will and choice in lessons, so when the ability to think for yourself is required, it's found to be lacking.

I think a great remedy for this situation would be, at least once per subject per year, to allow pupils to spend a couple of weeks doing something that they want to do (so long as it's within the bounds of the lesson) - yes, that would probably cause a lot of people to slack off for a couple of weeks, but those who want to learn will have the chance to investigate something that they personally find interesting. With the teacher only being there to answer questions rather than to spoon feed everything, the pupils would need to use independent thought to get anywhere. Although the pupils may find independent thought harder than spoon feeding, the fact that they've chosen what to do will mean that what they're doing is something they want to do. In my experience at least, the process of working independently on something enjoyable is both more fun, and much more educational, than sitting through a boring lesson simply because you have to.

The personal opinion of an Overmark reporter.