On a number of occasions, I have been mocked by my colleagues for my level of disdain for our country’s roads. Our roads demonstrate every negative aspect of society and there is one significant culprit – the traffic light.
In our education system, we aim to help students develop into thoughtful individuals who have the maturity to question what is presented to them on a daily basis. We promote thoughtfulness and politeness, helping students to consider the needs and feelings of other people.
The humble traffic light may seem like a simple road accessory; however it entirely strips away all of these qualities that our education system has enforced and is one of the reasons why, at times, road users get so irate and so irrational. The traffic light is an inhuman beast which tells us what we are to do with no concern for us as individuals. The red lights tells us that we must stop and we believe that the green light gives us the right to proceed. There is no humility, no sympathy, no understanding of feelings or mood. We are just another car, a number in the system.
I have experienced a number of occasions when traffic lights have stopped working and something magical happens – drivers are courteous, thoughtful and considerate, all the qualities that we try to instil at school. We are able to respond to other humans and this makes us kinder and more pleasant drivers. The traffic light is a competition – something that we are aiming to beat, whereas another human has feelings.
Whilst this may seem like a tirade against the idiotic traffic light, it also has a bearing on the way in which we run businesses and, more importantly, education. With the ever-increasing prevalence of technology comes the increase in automation, even with the suggestion of replacing teachers with robots or videos. The way in which we, as humans, respond to traffic lights should sound warning bells in our minds – will students respond as positively to an inhuman teacher as they would to a person?
Next time you are sitting in a traffic jam, consider that question.