What is education, anyway? Pt.2

Let’s face it, children are basically all the same and should be taught in the same, tried and tested, chalk and talk, fashion. Teachers in schools should focus purely on the 3R’s – Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic – and leave that creative ‘fluff’ for kids to pursue in their own time. Children should be viewed as empty vessels and a teacher’s role is to fill them with enough knowledge to pass the test. Some kids are just lazy, hyperactive or incapable of learning, so teachers should let them be whilst focussing on the other kids that can and want to learn. Wait… What? Was there actually a time when people thought this way about education? I do hope that the opinions above are not felt by any person on this earth. My opinions are much more aligned with those articulated in Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, “How to escape education’s death valley” (2013). So let me quote some of the highlights…

Ken Robinson’s take on how we should be viewing education…

What’s wrong with the current model of education?
• “I will make you a bet, and I’m confident I will win the bet. If you’ve got two children or more, I bet you, they are completely different from each other, aren’t they?”
• However, “education… is based on, not diversity, but conformity”
• “[We assess] what kids can do, across a very narrow spectrum of achievement.”
• They say there’s an ‘ADHD epidemic’, but “If you sit kids down hour after hour, doing low grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget.”
• “In place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance” in schools… and a “culture of standardization.”

How should we be viewing education? What needs to happen?
• “Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents; not just a small range of them.”
• As well as literacy, science and maths, “a real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education.”
• “The whole point of education is to get people to learn. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on”
• The role of teachers is “to facilitate learning”… to “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage”.

It seems pretty obvious when Robinson observes that education ‘happens’ in classrooms in schools, and that the people who ‘do’ education are the teachers and the students. “If you remove their discretion, it stops working”. Why then, is virtually every aspect of what goes on in education dictated by politicians, administrators, businesses and organisations, and even parents? It must be said that great teaching and learning happens in spite of the current model. “It’s like people are sailing into a head wind all the time.”

It’s all well and good to whine and moan about education and the fact that teachers are dictated to and that the current model of education is so outdated it is beyond ridiculous. But why don’t we stop the complaining and actually do something about it?

A veteran teacher, frustrated with the current state of affairs in schools, notes that “no one ever asks the teachers, those who are up to their necks in the trenches each day, or if they do, it is in a patronizing way and our suggestions are readily discarded. Decisions about classrooms should be made in classrooms. Teachers are the most qualified individuals to determine what is needed for their own students.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/12/31/i-would-love-to-teach-but/)

I wonder what education would ‘look like’ if we handed control to teachers and students?

Teachling

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6 thoughts on “What is education, anyway? Pt.2

  1. Reblogged this on lisabarlowblog and commented:
    Children are not all the same just like adults aren’t – the tried and true isn’t working fot most of the children I teach

  2. Pingback: Teachling | What is education, anyway? Pt.3

  3. Pingback: Teachling | WHY ‘GRADES’ ARE A USELESS FORM OF FEEDBACK (AND DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD)

  4. A great post! I have never liked the “empty vessel” model; nor the “sponge” comparison. From birth (or earlier) children are creators of their own reality, finding their own ways of getting their environment (and those in it) to work for them and to make sense to them. They continually create and test new hypotheses, and their wonder never ceases, until they are force-fed and crammed full of stuff that does not answer their questions or inspire their imaginations.

  5. Pingback: Teachling | The highs and lows of teaching: From making a difference, building great relationships and shaping the future, to homework, reports and helicopter parents.

  6. Reblogged this on Norah Colvin and commented:
    This week I am sharing a post published on Teachling earlier this year. Teachling introduces her post with a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an international advisor on Education. Like Teachling, I very much admire his work and would love to see education systems implement his recommendations. I hope you will set aside the 19 minutes it will take to listen to what Ken has to say. You will be amused, entertained and educated. I intended providing a summary of important points from his talk, but found I was recording the talk in full! Teachling has provided a few notes but I would love you to listen to the entire talk and let me know what you think. How can we join the revolution that Ken says we need?

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