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to think there is intrinsic value in a broad education?

(57 Posts)
DorothyL Tue 19-Jan-16 22:12:47

Often the advice given on here is "don't bother with too many gcse's, good grades are important not the subjects itself"

But the consequence of that are teenagers who give up subjects like history or languages at 13 and who therefore have a very limited world view and outlook on life. One example I've come across - 18 year olds who didn't know how and why WW2 started.

In Germany students have to study a broad curriculum right up to A level age, why do we narrow teenagers' education to this extent in the UK?

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 19-Jan-16 22:18:42

Bloody box ticking.

They've simplified some of the History curriculum so that kids are learning about the Lib Dem reforms and then the war. But to many young minds nothing else happened in between.

Schools and Education boards have been so obsessed with getting kids to pass that they're forgetting that the act of learning itself is fulfilling.

I'm on an access course going to Uni at the moment as a mature student and the number of 18-25 year olds that seemingly know nothing about the world around them is shocking.

OurBlanche Tue 19-Jan-16 22:19:41

As an ex A level teacher... I have no idea why we ask kids at 13 to make choices that close down their choices.

On the other hand I also have no idea why we insist they take so many GCSEs. It would be better for some of them to take fewer and get better results. I used to run the intake at an FE college and we used to hate the kids who had 12 GCSEs on their transcripts.

You could never tell how much they actually knew and how much was crammed, or, more importantly, when they would explode - usually half way through their AS year, meaning their parents blamed us, cos they were always such good students at school!

Then again, I am a bit of a radical. I want a 2 tier education system. I want a decent, well respected vocational system to run alongside a more academic one - I even think it's possible for kids to do some of both!

robindeer Tue 19-Jan-16 22:20:57

Many, many reasons. Most of them boil down to government pressure on our crippled education system.

But I completely agree. I loathe the education for qualifications mentality. Education should be lifelong and its own reward.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 19-Jan-16 22:21:57

Totally agree re: Vocational system OurBlanche.

So many degrees nowadays for what used to be vocational subjects. Colleges have been devalued as FE institutions.

DisgraceToTheYChromosome Tue 19-Jan-16 22:22:09

DD knows that the earliest syphilis victim is a 9 year old Egyptian Mummy from 3000 years ago. But she thinks Napoleon discovered America.

ghostyslovesheep Tue 19-Jan-16 22:23:54

because that system narrows things down very early on - between 'academic' and 'vocational' studies - forcing young people down a narrow path

having worked in a school that had the IB rather than A levels it only suited a very small range of students - you have to be academically able in such a broad range of subjects from arts to science and languages - very few people are

GCES results DO matter more in terms of post 16 options that subjects - students should be encouraged to study things they enjoy and are good at - not forced to study things to fit anyones agenda

OurBlanche Tue 19-Jan-16 22:26:02

Oh Troll! I taught on an Access course. It broke my heart, I really did get home one night and just cried. Some of them knew so very little about the world around them!

One in particular, I always wondered how she did when she left us. I know she had problems

Actually, it might be a good idea to bear that in mind. A high proportion of Access students have a lot of other things going on in their lives. It may be that they were carers, abused, depressed, bullied, didn't have a SEN diagnosed, all sorts of things. As I remember it more than 50% of the Access students I taught were offered pastoral support.

It's one of the reasons Access courses are so valuable. I know DH loved his - he was sent out to work at 15 to support his mum and siblings. So he too had 'issues' that meant he was in his 30s when he thought about university and an engineering degree.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 19-Jan-16 22:26:29

Depends what you are asking.

YABU if you think that under the current education system children shouldn't be focusing on fewer high grades and choosing options that play to their strengths.

YANBU if you think the secondary education system needs a total overhaul and this should have been considered. Tories had the perfect opportunity and fucked it up badly.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 19-Jan-16 22:37:47

Blanche I am really enjoying the course and finding it very engaging As you said a lot of the members have had issues in the past but some of the lapses in general knowledge are an eye opener.

From a class of pupils looking to go to Uni but didn't know what the water cycle was to a sociology class where feminism as a conflict theory was met with utter derision by most of the women in the class. That's just the tip of the iceberg as well.

It has made me consider a career in FE in future though because I can see the inherent value in it. The system failed these people and they're all so bloody eager to get on in life and do the best for their families.

TheSecondViola Tue 19-Jan-16 22:42:31

Of course there is huge value in it. It's not something you're going to get from a UK education though, no matter how many GCSE's you take.

ReallyTired Tue 19-Jan-16 22:42:58

There are not enough hours in the day to do every interesting subject. There is very little choice for secondary school kids anyway with the EBAC being complusory for any child who had half a brain cell.

I wish there were more evening courses like there were in the past for adults who wanted to study something that was not available to them at school.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 19-Jan-16 23:03:28

Not all schools make EBAC compulsory, though ReallyTired. There are lots that still allow an element of choice.

Agree about the evening courses though. There is a lot more online stuff now though, that partly fills the gap.

sophorifichobnob Tue 19-Jan-16 23:07:07

The Ebac is optional in many schools I believe. Ds, who is fairly bright I think, or at least hard working hmm, two stealth boasts, oops dropped languages to fit in triple science and engineering and so did many of his peer group. If he'd done languages he'd have got worse grades as they really aren't his forte .

Vanderwaals Wed 20-Jan-16 00:29:33

Haha that's so true ourblanche. I did 16 GCSEs (As&Bs) and 'exploded' half way through AS and dropped out.
I think 8 is enough.
I did still go to uni eventually though. But it set me back a few years.

DorothyL Wed 20-Jan-16 06:40:06

Yes the ebacc is still far from universally compulsory, not sure it ever will be.

Imustgodowntotheseaagain Wed 20-Jan-16 06:59:29

Gove was foiled in his love for the EBacc by the fact that Oxford and Cambridge don't particularly care what GCSEs you have. At Cambridge the only subjects that needed specific GCSEs were medicine and vet medicine. Though this might have changed now AS is gone.

sophorifichobnob Wed 20-Jan-16 07:03:45

We've been looking at universities, a few ask for one science at GCSE but we've only seen one (a London university) that asks for a language GCSE; that was before the demise of AS levels (though the current year 12 are still doing AS levels)

EricNorthmanSucks Wed 20-Jan-16 07:09:33

A broad education is a wonderful thing. And many countries focus on this for as long as possible.

However, they don't tend to focus on Year 11 public exams.

Since we do, and our academic system post 16 is very much pinned on those exams, it is not in anyone's interests on an individual level to take too many at the risk of diluting grades.

Also, an education should indeed be broad and not solely a classroom process. So I'd personally prefer fewer hours on lessons and more hours spent on extra curricular activities.

Devilishpyjamas Wed 20-Jan-16 07:34:44

I thought ebacc was now compulsory for current year 7's & up? Ds2's school hasn't insisted on it to date but I thought that was likely to change with the new rules.

Devilishpyjamas Wed 20-Jan-16 07:38:53

Oh it is still under consultation

I vaguely knew Nicky morgan in a previous life. Am horrified that soneone who knows so little about life or education is in charge of all this. Particularly when nonsense such as compulsory ebaccs for all is put forwards. Of course all children are clones.

Mistigri Wed 20-Jan-16 08:15:42

The UK system is very narrow.

I did O levels at a time when it was very unusual at least in state schools to study more than 9 subjects. Even with doing maths and English language early, it meant dropping subjects - I had to drop both history and geography in order to do two foreign languages and the three sciences. I still regret this.

In contrast, my DD on her (French) baccalaureat course will be examined on all three sciences, maths, two foreign languages, history and geography, French and Spanish literature, sport, Latin and philosophy. It's certainly a much more rounded education. (This is in a very ordinary state school btw).

DorothyL Wed 20-Jan-16 08:19:43

And often the argument is put forward "why bother with a subject that won't get you good grades" - what about bothering with a subject because it's worth learning?

PirateSmile Wed 20-Jan-16 08:22:05

I agree OP. So much of education now is about the schools wanting to put out those bloody banners on their gates telling the world how many a-c grades were achieved. It's terrifying.

BoboChic Wed 20-Jan-16 08:29:32

Mistigri - I wholeheartedly agree that the French bac S (if possible augmented by one of the several bilingual options) is one of the most rounded school leaving examinations on the European market. My experience is that some of the Paris and Paris suburbs Catholic suburbs schools do a strikingly better job than state lycées in educating their pupils to formulate and articulate their thoughts (both orally and in written form) but I agree that "ordinary state lycées" often do a stellar job.

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