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Interesting article

(57 Posts)
sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 08:13:59

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juuule Thu 15-Oct-09 08:28:53

I agree that some good points are raised.

I'm not sure, though, that it's overly important that some schools might be a little behind with technology. As long as there is some I.T. to a reasonable level then the basic idea will be got across and I think it's the basic ideas that are important. There is a variety of I.T. stuff in industry and the individual would probably have to learn the methods etc of whatever area they worked with.

piscesmoon Thu 15-Oct-09 08:29:06

'This website aims to maintain as positive an outlook on education as possible i.e. we promote the good rather than criticise the bad. This particular article has been included to reassure anyone who thinks that the problems that they are having with school are due to some deficiency in themselves - don't worry, it isn't. The fault is always with the school. '

I thought the above, at the top of the article was a hoot! I have never read such a biased article! Where was the positive? I realise that school provide childcare but that isn't the purpose-schools are not babysitters. I am very impressed by the technology-all the primary schools that I teach in have computer suites with a person in charge to maintain them. They certainly do more than the majority do at home-unless they have particularly technologically aware parents.

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 09:24:11

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juuule Thu 15-Oct-09 09:36:21

I love the idea of
"'learning centres' like adult Ed colleges"

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 09:40:05

With recent privatisation, Swedish schools have started veering towards a choice system where you sign up to the course you want to do. The result has been a dramatic drop in standards, and in particular a reluctance to study foreign languages to more than a very basic level, particularly languages perceived as difficult (but which the economy happens to depend on). Subjects seen as easy, such as media studies, are immensely popular, both with children (many of whom want to do as little work as possible) and with parents (many of whom want to keep their children happy and see good marks on the result sheets- and may not realise how useless some of those marks will be in later life). If they do languages, they are likely to do the beginners course in several languages, because this is seen as easier (=better chance of top marks), so they end up able to order icecream in 3 different languages- but not conduct a business conversation in any.

Imo this is going to be disastrous for a country that depends on trade and a reputation for know-how. And there are only so many jobs in media studies.

Teachers are under constant temptation to water their courses down, so as to get any takers at all. The last thing you want is to get a reputation for making people work harder than the other teachers.

And this is the country that until recently led the world in education.

Keeping up with the latest development in ICT was clearly a lost cause from the start: no school can do that (and very few parents).

But looking at the arrival of new university students, I think there would be things that a school could do to ensure that they get more out of the next step.

The first would be to give them some practise in memorising, just memorising anything at all, really: the times table or poetry or whatever. It is a real disadvantage if you turn up to study languages and have been led to believe that it is beyond human capacity to learn 10 items of vocabulary a week. You cannot conduct a business conversation by asking your partner to wait while you look up the words.

A practical acquaintance with the rules of logic would be good too. I mean having studied logic as a subject and knowing how arguments are constructed. Being able to pick an argument to pieces in a systematic way.

Problem solving is also something one would like to see more of.

Presentation skills (oral and written) are often lacking, but it is hard to know if this is the fault of the schools or of individual students. I have seen some slight improvement over the last few years: it may be that the literacy hour is actually doing something.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 09:46:28

I think the difference between adult education centres and schools is that more adults have a clear idea of what kind of skills they are going to need.

Many youngsters are not interested in the future at the age of 14, they have very little idea of what they are going to need later on, and more into having an easy ride at the moment. I remember my niece telling me a few years ago that it was her teacher's responsibility to keep her and her friends interested and make the subject fun at all times, and if the teacher didn't, then he couldn't expect them to do any work. She seemed to have no concept of needing to learn things for her own sake, for her own future. She was 16 or 17 at the time. She is now in a dead end job, with a very insecure future, often going for weeks on end without work.

As a university teacher, I really do not have the time to pick up the pieces if the nations' young have not learnt the basics at school. We'd never get to do what university is all about if they haven't done the basics at school- whether they felt like it at the time or not.

I know your children have done extremely well with their studies, Riven, but lots of teens just aren't like that. If they were, the Swedish experiment would have worked. People thought it would at the time, because they assumed that the majority of children would be genuinely keen to work hard.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 09:47:26

oops, awful typing as usual

the nation's young, even blush

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 09:50:36

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cory Thu 15-Oct-09 09:58:49

I would say that as teenagers, going by the example of my nephews and nieces, they were just more interested in other things: boys, girls, hormones, parties etc. And by that time they had sussed out that there is some learning that you cannot do without very hard work.

I don't think schools on their own are to blame for all the teenage changes. And not all teens are affected equally. I never lost my will to learn, though I attended a back-of-beyond comp where noone else showed any particular interest in doing so. My db otoh was completely taken over by teenage hormomes; he needed to be made to work and not spend all his time moping around thinking about girls or whatever.

My dd is like me. Nothing will take away her will to learn. If I were HE'eding her, I would no doubt ascribe it to her being HE'ed, but she is exactly the same in school, so I don't think it's as simple as that.

My ds otoh wants to run around and shout and kick a ball. It's not about him being disenchanted with school; it's just that other things have a very strong lure. If I let him, he would spend all the time he has to spend indoors (i.e. after dark) watching football and fast cars on television. He finds reading difficult, so finding things by looking them up is not a treat or a pleasure for him, the way it is for his sister. I do everything I can to encourage him, but I don't for a moment believe he would have it in him to get there on his own.

cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:04:53

Really, really interesting article.

And really interesting point cory.

Goodness knows what the solution is. I agree with a lot of what that article says. And, sorry, Piscesmoon, I do think that the babysitting/childcare thing is extremely relevant. It's also one of the reasons that people put up with truly dreadful schools, rather than home-educating.

When I was younger I would have been all for the Swedish idea. Fascinating that they now seem to be replicating some of the problems we have in Britain.

I do love the idea of increasing autonomy and creativity within the school setting. My dc used to be at a primary that enshrined that as a part of their ethos. Their SAT results were brilliant.

They're now at a school which seems to have an ethos of "where there's a will, there's a wall" and children are deliberately discouraged from experimentation, imagination or independent thinking. I've watched my dc switch off from learning and, yes, my youngest has started bed-wetting and doesn't want to go to school.

And I am completely aware that any complaint I might make would be laughed at. Who would I complain to? What would I say? Perhaps: "My child is stressed and requires a liberal environment in which she can explore her nascent independence safely?" I think I'd laugh if someone said that to me ... .

And their SAT results are rubbish.

Rant over.

cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:18:40

Thinking about it a bit more ...

I've visited a few schools I really do like, and whose ethos overlaps mine. In those, there is an underlying "message" being taught. It goes something along the lines of there being no "edge" to learning; learning is what we do, always, in our activity as humans. Learning is a form of creativity; putting things together, making new thoughts, understanding things and constructing how we know the world.

But alongside that there is an implicit message, buried in the very fact of school being an artificial space, separate from home, separate from other activities. And tht message tells you something about the more uncomfortable side of creativity/learning - about having to leave your comfort zone, and that there is something quite artificial and abstracted-from-the -day-today about (academic) learning.

They're two quite different messages.

As you have said, cory, that second one is tricky and weirdly enough, requires a strong sense of self-lifted-out-of-the-moment, a certain maturity that comes from a sense of a self projecting into the future and away from what surrounds us immediately.

It's very un-childlike; possibly the hall-mark of adulthood.

The two things are, I suppose, quite difficult to teach well.

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 10:20:34

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sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 10:20:59

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cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:21:49

"Choosing to be there" is the really important and difficult bit, isn't it?

cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:23:41

Sorry - Misread you!

I think you're raising all sorts of really tricky questions about "what education is for"!

(And I don't know the answer to that one!)

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 10:27:32

Sounds awful, cherryblossoms. Is there no way you can take them out of there?

But not all schools are like that. Both my dd in secondary and ds in juniors are in an environment where I can see that they are constantly being stimulated to think about things (even ds who is a bit on the reluctant side). They come home and burst into discussions about something that was said at school. They go and look things up (or at least dd does) because they want to know who is right, of take something further. Ds does a lot of art work around the history projects they've been doing.

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 10:28:03

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cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:33:04

[ Cory, don't want to hijack thread ... .

Thanks for asking.

Well, strangely enough, all those lovely liberal schools are v. popular! Partly because, along with all the lovely things they do - they get v. good SAT results.

And the places that ARE free, are in schools much like the current one.

Which, of course, prompts a very obvious question ... .]

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 10:34:38

I was way ahead of my class in primary, so according to accepted wisdom should have been bored and unhappy. However, my primary school teacher was a superb story teller: she could infuse the simplest everyday anecdote with meaning and memorability. Looking at some of the drawings ds does after school, he must be experiencing something like that.
I'm a good storyteller myself, so they would have that even if HE'd. But I just think two voices are better one, and because I'm lucky in my children's schools, I tend to think of us not as opposites but as complementing each other. Teacher and I do pretty much the same thing, except she deals with the boring bits, like making ds learn his time tables.

cherryblossoms Thu 15-Oct-09 10:39:30

That's v. true Riven. (schools lagging behind the times.)

Maybe that's not a bad thing. Lagging behind and giving things time to see how the landscape will settle isn't always bad. I'm never sure it is good to demand that schools be in the forefront of providing societal change.

Having said that, there is no doubt that, education being so central to mobility, schools are, in fact, and arguably always have been, absolutely at the centre of social change.

Isn't it odd that there aren't more public discussions/fora to discuss the shape of education in the future? Education - as you have said - transforms all the time to meet a changing world and some of those changes are big. And nearly all our children go to school, so it affects many of us.

We could do with BoffinMum coming to join us and being informative of any discussions going on at the level of academic or policy study.

cory Thu 15-Oct-09 10:40:26

sorry to hear that, cherryblossoms, but I do see what you mean

we had the opposite problem: our very good and quite academic catchment school was turned into an academy run by a religious group which did not seem to set much store by learning but left children pretty much to their own devices- there have been riots, results have dropped and the children I know there have been very unhappy

dd got into the oversubscribed out-of-catchment school because of disability; possibly a more conventional school, but they're nice and sensible, which counts for a lot; her cousin (in Sweden) has suffered badly from his school's laissez-faire attitude, as the class was disrupted for 3 years by three children with behavioural problems and nothing was done to either curb them or get them help

sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 10:41:55

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sarah293 Thu 15-Oct-09 10:42:41

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Litchick Thu 15-Oct-09 10:48:12

I really don't think though that it can be entirely placed at a school's door if a child is not interested in learning. That must come from home no?
Parents must lead by example from home. When I grew up my parents would pont out interesting articles in the paper, tell me amusing stories about what they'd done that day, what they'd hreard on the Radio. I'd see my Dad reading his book and ask him if it was good and he'd tell me yes or no.

My Nan would spend hours telling me about when she was a girl, or the war etc.

These days families hole up in spereate rooms staring at screens. They don't talk. They don't do anything interesting.
That is what the schools are trying to work with.

I volunteeer at my local primary and althought the teachers are not the most inspiring, the kids really don't want to be there anyway. They spend all their free time watching telly or playing on the computer. They know very little of the world around them...because no adult tells them.
No-one reads to them or with them.

Compare and contrast with the school where DC go...children queueing up to get in early for extra ICT lessons or Greek or the Choir. Children doing extra stuff in lunchtime clubs and after school.
The enthusiasm is boundless. Yes the teaching is excellent ( so it bloody should be for the money it costs ) but the children arrive bright eyed and bushy tailed. Which mirrors the parents, really.

Can schools really make much headway if the children don't arrive desperate to learn?

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