On education..

Ok, master mutta got me thinking (stop laughing you lot, I do happen to think on occasion!)
I know he wasn’t really referring to education in the UK but in a more general sense, the thing is, his post does raise some valid questions:

  1. What is the purpose of education?
  2. How can we produce employable students faster?
  3. Can 2hr exams really reflect a student’s abilities?
  4. What role should parents play in their children’s education?
  5. Does making education free and compulsory solve or compound the problem?

Now if you look to the comments of said post you’ll see that my response to #1 was thus:

Education is supposed to help prepare a person for life after education, give ’em the best start possible

(which is basically what the first definition on dictionary.com says if you check the above link.)

The easiest way of producing employable students at a faster rate is to specialize as soon as possible. This is where the old apprenticeship schemes were invaluable, not only were the students learning, they were actually working as they learned.

We were talking about hospitals during our recent visit to Yogi’s – unsurprising since his mother is a radiographer and I’ve recently experienced the ‘delights’ of hope where she used to work.
She was discussing a student she recently had in her department, apparently they no longer teach these radiography students anatomy.
Now, forgive me.. But if I’m being sent off to x-ray I would like for the person putting me in front of a radioactive device to have the knowledge of where to point said device so I don’t have to go back and have it done over and over again..
And they say there’s no dumbing down *shakes head in disgust*

As for these 2hr exams. It’s ridiculous – there is no falser environment than an exam room, how can you judge a students potential based entirely on that? I know coursework plays a part in the proceedings, but to assign such a large portion of a students final mark to a one off event seems to me a tad unfair.

Now we come to the meat of the matter as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve had a look at what passes for a curriculum designed to prepare a child for life after education. I have to say I’m not impressed.

Gone are the seemingly obvious subjects of home economics and domestic science, in their place we have ‘citizenship‘. My interest was piqued by this title I have to say – It seems quite Orwellian, perhaps even a tad Marxist, alarmingly so for a supposedly democratic society wouldn’t you say?

I had to chuckle when I read the aims of said subject though:

Citizenship education equips children and young people with the knowledge, understanding and skills to play an active part in society as informed and critical citizens who are socially and morally responsible. It aims to give them the confidence and conviction that they can act with others, have influence and make a difference in their communities.

Ooohhh-kay! and from the growing rate and number of youth related crime in this country it’s obviously having a big effect.
Just thinking back to my own schoolday experiences, looking at the curriculum and the current number of idiots streaming from our school gates – I have to say I’m all for homeschooling.
There is a saying that if you want something done properly , do it yourself. Now I’m not saying that if I want a shower fitted properly, or a new boiler installed I’d do it myself – I’d just rather not have anyone employed by the government do it (trust me on this, you should see the pigs ear the council workers made of our re-wiring and boiler fitting, the british gas guy went on at quite some length about the level of incompetence displayed)

This same feeling most definitely applies towards my children (imaginary though they be right now) I have nothing against most teachers, for the most part I feel they have the hardest job in the country – especially with the way the system binds their hands before they can do it.
I just feel that our education system needs ripping apart and returning to a sterner age.

As with most things these days there is a definite feeling that the government have got it all wrong. More and more people are turning to homeschooling out of dissatisfaction for the current system. It is not as a lot of people seem to believe, illegal to do so – according to the 1996 education act, it is parents who are responsible for providing their children’s education ‘in school or therwise’, suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of each child.

This is where my answer for question #4 becomes apparent. A responsible parent plays the most important role possible in their childs education, they put a great deal of thought and care into the consideration of who will best form the groundwork for their childs future.
This is why I would homeschool for as long as funds and knowledge will allow.

With homeschooling everything becomes a lesson – and lessons do not have to be dull exercises written in books or learned by rote, everything has a practical application and can be taught as such, you need no classroom when you have the world itself to learn from.

Manners should be taught as standard and by example – children are the greatest mimics alive, their earliest standards are fixed by observing those closest to them.
I’m ashamed to say I have a cousin who really should never have been a parent – yet she has three lovely children. Children who all have mouths like sewers and who think nothing of kicking a person out of their way and demanding anything they want as opposed to requesting politely.

We all know kids like this and we deplore them, the people we should really deplore are their parents and the people who have allowed television standards to drop knowing full well that bad parents leave children in front of the tv at every given opportunity.

Education starts at home. The first teachers a child knows are it’s care givers, if they don’t set the right pattern first then the right pattern will never be set.
But I’m going slightly off topic here, mainly because people like my cousin make me want to beat them soundly over the head and sterilise them forever so they cannot harm another childs future through their stupidity.
Yes I know that sounds incredibly arrogant, but no mother should kick her 2yr old child out of the way of the tv and call it a little shit while holding a fag in one hand and a beer in another, nor should she force her children to call every new man in her life ‘dad’, they can do it as and when said man proves himself worthy of the title.
But hey, what do I know eh?!

Anyhow, back to homeschooling.
Once walking, talking and potty training are out of the way there are so many things you can begin teaching a child that will be of actual use in life – lets face it, how many times at school did you say to yourself “whats the point of this?” only to leave school and find that, actually, there is no point.

I would have to teach my child:

  • reading
  • writing
  • maths
  • gardening
  • cookery
  • sewing
  • art
  • languages
  • computing
  • sport
  • sciences
  • music
  • drama
  • decorating
  • woodworking
  • transport and maintenance (car/ motorbike/ cycle)

Obviously I’m not completely proficient in all of those subjects, but for most I have a basic knowledge and I’m not averse to sharing the burden with other parents or people with better credentials than me with the rest of the subjects.

In a homeschooled environment it would be very easy to combine, gardening, cookery and biology. Not only would my child know how to grow his or her own food, they would know the science behind what makes a plant flourish, they would also know just what nutritional value there was to be had in each plant and why it was good for them – they would also know the best ways to prepare and cook said plants so that they were tasty while retaining said nutrients which in turn allows us to teach chemistry.
As an added bonus a child will always at least try a dish they’ve cooked themselves and so I doubt I’d have a great deal of trouble feeding my lot a healthy balanced diet.

Sewing, art, woodwork and decorating could also be combined and this should bring into play the science of physics along with more than a small helping of mathematics.

Computing could also be linked into any and every one of the above tasks, from word processing, to databasing and spreadsheets, photoshop, email, internet and the basic care and maintenance of a pc from the ground up (easy enough to do when the other half is an I.T consultant)

As to languages, I’d take a course or have someone come to the house and I would learn alongside my child, we could do our work together and make a game of it by competing to see who can speak most fluently when we holiday in that country (because why learn a language if you are never going to visit the place it is most spoken?) this in turn would help teach that most basic of concepts, tolerance for the beliefs of others, it is my hope that by keeping a child constantly amused and entertainingly taught, they would then find curiosity in things I have not greatly touched upon, and take it upon themselves to use the tools I’ve given them to explore to their hearts content (obviously I’d be keeping an eye on this exploration, kids are still kids after all)

Oh yes, in my mind I have it all planned out. All that’s lacking is the home and child.
And a large dose of reality *grin*
I doubt very highly this would come about without a great deal of compromise between parents, my views on certain things and his do differ quite a lot, that and when he reads this and see’s the bit on sewing, gardening and cooking.. Well, I bet you’ll hear the laughter in Canada K.

The thing is it would be just as cheap to homeschool as it is to send your child to school, once you take into account uniforms, school trips and dinners, miscellaneous costs throughout the year for materials, transport and all the other little fee’s that appear unannounced..
Another plus, without the influence of peer pressure and bullying, it is likely your child will not suffer that deplorable lust for branded products, which not only makes life less expensive, it means your child will learn to see through advertising gimmicks and make informed purchasing decisions once they are in a position to do so – instead of merely going for the same thing everyone else is buying in order to ‘fit in’.

Yup, I really can’t see the advantages of school over home other than time.
Because of work many parents cannot afford to stay home and teach their children and so they look for the best school they can find and hope for the best. There is nothing wrong with this – but to these parents I would say “in what way do you supplement your childs education? What do they learn from you?” I know what people like my cousin would say and it’s usually a 2 word expletive.
The response I’d expect from people like myself is that they’ve tried to provide anything they feel the national curriculum lacks.

Question #5 is a bit of a tough one since I have no hard or fast opinion on this. I applaud the fact that education is (for the most part) free, if that were to change it would be a sad thing indeed.
The thing I would change is the compulsory part. If children don’t want to go to school then don’t make them – offer a couple of alternatives instead.
Bring back the apprenticeships, have community projects that the children can participate in until they feel they would like to be educated in a more formal way – make it so the schools are not bound by age, make it so they are bound by inclination.

If, for example, every person in the country is allotted up to 11 subjects of their choice for free, more kids would stay in school and be attentive because they’ve decided themselves what they’d like to do.
I’d suggest for the first 2-3 years of schooling they are offered tasters in every subject you can think of and then at the end of that time can choose the ones they wish to focus on, just no more than 11.
Should they show an aptitude for one or 2 subjects then pending a reference from the teacher they can go onto further study – for free.
Once they’ve shown this much aptitude it should be a matter of ease to find companies willing to offer work placements and possible jobs just as certain vocational courses do now.

Obviously there’s much to be tweaked in this vision for the future *grin* but I’ve just noticed that it’s gone midnight and I’d like to be asleep before the idiot downstairs starts playing his music again (in the vain hope it doesn’t wake me up tonight) I hope this proved entertaining and enlightening for you master mutta – I thank you kindly for the inspiration and hope others stop by and put their tuppence in for you.