To think the English attitude to learning can be very weird?

(217 Posts)
DorothyL Sun 27-Nov-16 07:53:44

So often you read "no point in doing more than eight gcses/3 a levels, not needed for later/university"

How about doing subjects to LEARN something, not just to use them as a stepping stone? In other countries eg Germany youngsters continue with a broad range of subjects right through their school career.

Here I have met many teenagers who are woefully ignorant about all sorts of things - due to the fact they specialise far too early!?

Pseudonym99 Sun 27-Nov-16 08:01:30

People just see qualifications as stepping stones to money. People who went into work straight from school have much more life experience and are more clued up than those who went to university, walk into a company without a clue, try to boss others around and expect to earn loads of money.

NaughtyNiffler Sun 27-Nov-16 08:03:53

There isn't really an option to learn for pleasure either. There's no other gcses available for if the student wanted to study something else too... I think it's an 'old school' view maybe. I was told by my DPs there was no use in studying art at a level unless a person was really really good, so I didn't and am now regretful that I didn't - boo.
It also sums up the greater attitude of only doing enough to get by, not over investing in anything. There are a few that go above and beyond or get drawn back to education... Idk, I think there is an awful lot of pressure on our teenagers to decide their career paths at an early age

RoganJosh Sun 27-Nov-16 08:03:55

I think there is an unspoken 'because they'll be stressed enough with that number' though?

Basicbrown Sun 27-Nov-16 08:05:30

I think that the attitude of qualifications = learning is odd.

3, 4 or 5 A Levels is still specialisation. Arguably with 5 and your head stuck in textbooks your education will surely be less broad. I don't think it's the answer personally to a broader curriculum.

DorothyL Sun 27-Nov-16 08:05:38

In Germany not all subjects lead to final exams, they are just continually assessed.

Basicbrown Sun 27-Nov-16 08:06:52

I think there is an awful lot of pressure on our teenagers to decide their career paths at an early age

When we have no idea what jobs there will be in 25 years......

ThisisMrsNicolaHicklin Sun 27-Nov-16 08:07:31

We moved to a different country with our DCs for a similar reason(among others), the English school system seemed to us to be a conveyor belt to degree qualifications with no room for changing your mind or making mistakes. It's far too hard on the pupils.

HarrietVane99 Sun 27-Nov-16 08:07:45

I think by the time people reach their mid-to-late-teens, they should take some responsibility for informing and educating themselves, and not expect school to do it all. One can follow current affairs, improve one's general knowledge, read history etc., without studying it to A Level. So I don't think it's necessarily a case of specialising too early.

I do think there might be case to be made for schools focusing more on the core subjects - humanities and literature, languages, maths and science - rather than schools offering subjects such as photography, which I see mentioned here.

DorothyL Sun 27-Nov-16 08:08:18

They have to do maths, a science, a language, German, an arty subject and a humanity right up to leaving age, minimum. I did German, English, French, art, biology, maths, history, philosophy, social science, pe right up to leaving age.

Weatherforecaster Sun 27-Nov-16 08:10:21

''People just see qualifications as stepping stones to money. People who went into work straight from school have much more life experience and are more clued up than those who went to university, walk into a company without a clue, try to boss others around and expect to earn loads of money.''

Nothing like a sweeping generalisation! Completely not true in my case and probably not true for many, many others.

sterlingcooper Sun 27-Nov-16 08:12:36

I was just thinking about this the other day. I never thought about learning anything really from my A levels, only knowing how to pass the exams. That was the way we were taught too, to know the marking scheme and craft answers towards it. I had a real shock when I went to uni and that approach stopped working. I had always been bright so hadnt needed to try that hard in school until then, and when I realised that kids from private schools had been encouraged to read much more widely, be intellectually curious, challenge what they read etc I felt angry that I had never had that experience...

0phelia Sun 27-Nov-16 08:15:02

English schooling has suffered tremendously over decades of cuts and endless cuts whilst teachers admin and levels of pointless beurocracy have increased.
Teachers in the UK are under far more pressure to push pupils through the results-led conveyor belt or face more cuts.

It's no wonder students are encouraged to stick to a set path without exploring "making mistakes" or experimental learning.

It'll all be going to pot soon anyway and only the privately educated will benefit from education.

thisagain Sun 27-Nov-16 08:18:58

DD needed 3 A grades at A level to get into uni to study law. We even chose her subjects around subjects that she was most likely to get an A in. She would have liked to have taken Spanish but their A grade was high. She took Biology as deemed easier than Chemistry and Physics. She got her grades (and more) but it is a bit sad that she had to choose with that in mind. I do think we saw A Levels as a stepping stone to University but definitely not to money.

claraschu Sun 27-Nov-16 08:19:30

The whole British education system is geared towards passing exams (or getting top marks on exams) and focusing on one career. There is no room for people who are brilliant at one subject to go ahead and go further when they are still in school, and there is no room for people who have lots of diverse interests to continue their studies as they get to university age.

Igneococcus Sun 27-Nov-16 08:22:55

You are talking about Gymnasium pupils here DorothyL It's very different at a Realschule or a Hauptschule.

DorothyL Sun 27-Nov-16 08:23:56

Yes of course but here even Gymnasium level students don't get that breadth

CaoNiMao Sun 27-Nov-16 08:24:13

The current economic climate wants workhorses, though - not well-rounded critically-thinking individuals. A nation's education system works to create what that nation requires of its workforce in the political and economic landscape of that generation.

Chottie Sun 27-Nov-16 08:25:31

This is such a sad thread.

I can remember choosing my GCE subjects because I was interested in the subject and wanted to learn at a greater depth.

Headofthehive55 Sun 27-Nov-16 08:27:22

I think there is every opportunity to study other stuff.
Just think of the amount of children doing extra curricula ballet, sport, horseriding, music? GCSEs are a very specific form of learning and being assessed. Learning happens much more widely than that. My 12 year old taught herself computer coding. No need to wait for a for a GCSE.

Bobochic Sun 27-Nov-16 08:30:34

DorothyL - I greatly value learning and believe DC should engage in as many useful activities as they can manage in order to develop.

GCSE courses offer very little in the way of intellectual development. In fact, they are by and large a very bad joke.

WingedSloath Sun 27-Nov-16 08:30:39

Ds1 was nearly skipping to school when he could drop art and drama and start year 9 with his chosen subjects. grin

Although he has narrowed his learning at school we still watch lots of educational stuff at home as a family. It certainly doesn't feel like learning or work as we have found some incredible YouTube videos.

Learning doesn't have to involve a teacher taking a class. Learning is everywhere.

Headofthehive55 Sun 27-Nov-16 08:31:15

Oh and at uni, you can if you want read books in the library on other subjects...and pop into other lectures! Lots of uni courses have electives, where you study something completely different. I did a chemistry degree, but did economics as a subsid.
There is futurelearn moocs...

junebirthdaygirl Sun 27-Nov-16 08:31:32

In lreland all children do 7 subjects for their Leaving cert and a lot take 8. Must include Irish English Maths and usually a science subject and a foreign language. There is a tendency here too to study to the exam but still a lot are studying history or geography or music or art etc up to age 18. It's a high pressure exam but they don't narrow their options until much later. To be honest it's difficult even with that range to keep encouraging them to learning for learnings sake but as they usually pick at least two favourite subjects they leave with a broad education, l think.

WouldHave Sun 27-Nov-16 08:33:23

What is leaving age in Germany, OP? I think up to 16 pupils in the UK would be expected to do more or less the same range of subjects.

I think we obsess too much about clocking up qualifications. I'm never impressed when I hear of a child doing five or more A levels, because all that means is that they've studied a very narrow syllabus on those five subjects. I think that if they're capable if that, it would be far better for them to do whatever the minimum number of A levels is that they need to get into university, and use the rest of the time either just learning something for the fun of it or doing a lot of wider work and reading around their chosen degree subject.

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