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“What would you change about school?” the answers of the hikikomori

 

ITA | ENG

"Our children spend years within an outdated education system, studying subjects they will never use, preparing for a world that no longer exists."

 

This quote by Robert Kiyosaki, American writer and entrepreneur, was published by a member of the  Hikikomori Italia Facebook group.A heated discussion about the modern school system arose under the post, with several very critical comments.

Most hikikomori, in fact, have developed a particularly negative view of school, often seeing it as one of the maincauses of their withdrawal. Their school refusal does not depend exclusively on anxiety or fear, but also on a deeply rooted rational as well as evaluative component.

 

About peers...


"The education of most young people is bad. This leads them to embrace fake life values (wealth, popularity, fashion, etc.), which spread and become the criterion for normalizing themselves." 

"They often denigrated and made fun of me,furthering my isolation. No one ever asked me how I was doing." 

"I only talked to three people. Others either ignored me or laughed at me." 

"I felt left out, different and distant from others. No one ever really knew me, no one ever really cared about me." 

"I went out of my way to seek out deep friendships, but I only found self-centred people who were incapable of telling the truth."

 

It is clear from these quotes how hikikomori struggle to identify with their peers, perceiving themselves as more mature and humanly sensitiveindividuals.

Contrary to what one might think, few complained about overt bullying. The main suffering seems to result from the lack of interest that classmates show towards them, as evidence of how loneliness and isolation do not begin behind closed doors, but already in the school environment. The leap is not as marked as it might seem.

Another aspect that partially emerges from this survey, that I have also noticed in many other hikikomori stories, is their need to establish "deep" connections, rejecting any other type of emotional bond beforehand, because perceived as fake or pointless.

A guy once told me: "For me, friendship doesn't exist, there is only love. I don't think I've ever felt friendship."

 

About Professors... 

"There are often strict professors who walk over the needs of the pupils themselves." 

"Professors should take pedagogyand educational science exams." 

"In order to become a teacher, one should first take psychological fitness tests. To do that job you need a lot of patience, professionalism and the ability to get people interested”.

"They thought I had problems because I never interacted with them, except under prompting. Sometimes they would just tell my parents that I needed a therapist, totally ignoring the fact that I felt uncomfortable within the school environment (for other reasons)." 

"I think if there had been some really valuable teachers in my schooling, I might have been better today."

 

These quotes confirm the strongly negative view that hikikomorioften have towards teachers. In particular, they seem to suffer from the absence of human connection that went beyond the mere transmission of skills.

I would like to point out that not all the responses I received were negative. Some reported that they received support from teachers, or that they had nothing to complain about their behaviour.

However, it seems evident howthe figure of the teacher needs to evolve, equipping it with more psycho-pedagogical tools, in order to make teachers able to relate effectively and empathetically with their students, grasping their needs and supporting them in their difficulties, both scholastic and human.

 

About subjects...

 

"I would change the poor flexibility in choosing different educational paths." 

"More emphasis should be placed on subjects like Literature and Philosophy, in order to get kids more excited about reading." 

"Today you need to learn how to livewithout damaging Earth."

 

 

Here a strong and concrete necessityarises. What these young people are asking school, almost in chorus, is to teach them to face life.

As I stressed in this video, the school should restore dignity to all those subjects that have been devalued within the current capitalist model of society, primarily Philosophy, Psychology, Art and Religion. Many, considering these subjects not very useful to get a job, argue that it is correct to sacrifice them in favour of scientific subjects. In my opinion, this is a misguided line of reasoning.

Studying humanities is not an end in itself: it helps individuals develop essential skills to understand their own nature, master their existential chaos, and build a solid identity structure.

 

About methodology...

 

"Giving marks, together withthe forced integration system, lead the most introverted ones to isolate themselves."

"We have a school system that is too mnemonic and theoretical, thus getting high grades is not an indication of true competence or intelligence, but good memory." 

"It seems as the main purpose is to train people with as many skills as possible in order to be ready for the 'war of work'. Yet in doing so, we lose sight of what I think is the most important thing: to train people, certainly competent, but above all happy or at least healthy."

"The school is subject to the demands of the market and society, now based on principles of efficiency and recommendation, therefore schools no longer think about the personal, educational and psychological growth of the individual."

"School should be a place that is open all day and to everyone."


These quotes confirm what was said above and reinforce the demand by young people for a school that does not prostrates itself at the service of society, but on the contrary, has the strength to guide its changes, fighting against the logicsof the market. In other words, young people are asking schools to show more courage.

A criticism about the grade-based system also arises, whose effectiveness has already been questioned more than once by severalexperts, but to date (with a few rare exceptions) it remains, probably due to inertia, the main method worldwide.

Finally, the last quote seems to call out for a rethinking of the school environment, starting with the concept of space. Especially in Italy, school is perceived as a transitory place, with rigid schedules, that we can't wait to leave as soon as the bell rings.

Yet we must have the ability to imagine a flexible and inclusive school. A place that is not only aimed at learning, but a place to live at 360 degrees, where it would be possible to engage in recreational activities, sports and where to cultivate passions.


 

Conclusions

The modern education system is largely based on outdated principles, and today theconsequences are showing upstronger than ever.


That of the hikikomori is a silent but deafening protest. It is a clear and total refusal, which certainly cannot be solved through simple interventions on the individuals, perhaps trying to convince them in every way to return to that environment that is for them a source of great suffering, an environment which theyview as the reflection of the malfunctioning of a society in which they no longer recognize themselves as an integral part.

We must then interpret the hikikomori as an opportunity for growth. We must listen to their protest, understand the reasons for their discomfort and adjust what does not work. Designing alternative forms of education, opening ourselves to new ways of teaching that are more flexible and consider the enormous personal differences.

The school should not have the task of standardizing, but rather that ofenhancing individual talents that everyonehas. If this is not the case, school dropouts in the coming years will increase dramatically, and we will find ourselves wondering, for the umpteenth time, where we went wrong.


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