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?