I know i am getting older and more cynical everyday but the education system realy needs a reveiw.
My daughter asked me the other day “dad have you ever used trigonometry” and it set me to thinking is what they teach still relevant given the changes since I started school calculators had only just come into existence but we were taught the abacus.How things have changed!
Now with the internet almost any question can be answered with a few keystrokes or even words to google.
It seems to me what we need to teach our youngers is life experience, give them ideas of how to cope ,question what the media feeds them, how systems have failed in the past,what to expect in the future and how to view the world wholeisticly thus giving them the tools to vote and change our governments for the better.
One way to transfer life experience effectively is reading be it fact or fiction it is still transferring ideas or experiences much better than any other medium i know allowing the mind to process at its own pace and think of alternatives.
I know this outside the norm for choice but hopefully it may trigger something.
I know i am getting older and more cynical everyday but the education system realy needs a reveiw.
A crucial issue for the future. Have a look at Sir Ken Robinson on YouTube; among the many wonderful insights he makes reference to ‘Finnish Lessons’ a book about Finland’s creative approach to education. His central argument is that our education system was structured around the Industrial Revolution and has failed to truly understand the uniqueness of each student and tailor an education that empowers and engages the person. There has been some progress in this area, however there is a long way to go.
@jenningsfarm I think the future of education will be COOL!
Moving away from rote learning to experiences and questioning.
@graemeriley Right on. I think we all learn very differently. Technology will hopefully allow us to tailor education to the specific needs of students.
Some great talks from TED on what it might look like.
In the now times, you might have heard of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). I have completed a few courses in psychology & philosophy here, for free!
The basics are still important in maths, sciences and right across all the subjects, it may not seem so in the context of calculators and other modern tools. But training and structuring the mind to work through problems helps strengthen higher functions such as logic processes and advanced problem solving.
Making the mind analytical with concepts of trigonometry algebra etc it is the difference between being able to simply insert data and the visualisation of problems.
I agree, the basics are important - what stands to change is how the basics are taught. This is one of my favourite TED talks on the subject:
And as a recent former university lecturer at UTS, I do think that we are indeed due for a sector shake up. In the tertiary camp, one of the discouraging things I noticed among undergraduates I taught was that going to university seemed to be nothing more than an extension of high school for many. They felt they HAD to be there, as opposed to being there because they really wanted to study what they were studying.
Perhaps more worrying however, is the ever increasing effort and $$ spent on marketing and senior administration and the complete lack of attention by universities and students, paid to aspects of learning that actually affect learning outcomes. For example, number of students per tutor (a colleague had a 100 students in his one tutorial), breadth of intellectual ability in a class, whether you are being taught by a casual or permanent employee, etc. Am looking into whether CHOICE can help people to start to ask the questions that will matter when they are choosing institutions.
Lack of basics - e.g. times tables used to be taught by rote in primary schools. Now, 70 years later I observe this lack of internalised counting ability in shops where the assistant needs the till to work out how much change you get. You can’t blame the teachers, each change of government has a bright idea of how to raise the standards in class. We depend too much on electronic machinery without understanding the process by which the answer is obtained. English - spelling lists came from the government newsletter and the teachers knew what was expected at each year level, so did the students. Changing the goal posts every other year creates a great insecurity in the curriculum. If the basics at each year are a ‘given’ then the teachers are free to enrich their students’ education. Music in primary school in Scotland was part of the curriculum. Solfa, singing from a folk song book which had solfa and printed music plus the words. Thus we learned the intervals from practising solfa (do re me fa so etc. the interval being the gap between the notes in the song). The initiative to have gardening and food production is also a great idea. Children being taught how to grow food and care for the chooks who help by eating bugs and providing eggs - all good lessons for life which they might not get at home because they live in a flat with no garden etc. Learn how to use computers and calculators, but know what came first = no power, no batteries and where are you - up the proverbial creek.
It’s fascinating to me that the primary school aged children of today will grow up learning to code and use technology in ways that didn’t even exist when I was at school. It does seem though that in the pursuit of teaching skills for the future, there is the risk of losing some of the everyday skills we take for granted.
I imagine there are only so many lessons that can go into a curriculum, so what takes preference; the technological skills our children will need for the future or the basics they’ll use everyday to function in society? And how do we strike a balance so they learn both? As parents, does teaching the basics at home become more important because there will be less of these lessons in school?
@graemeriley The education in Finland and Holland is leaps and bounds ahead of us in terms of more individualised learning. I think we get stuck in a systemic way of doing things here in Australia and it’s hard to break that pattern.
@jenningsfarm have you heard of unschooling? It’s a movement where children learn from experience as opposed to one-size-fits-all testing and grading. It’s an interesting concept and would probably work really well for some kids, and probably not at all for others.
I agree… But I see these seemingly ‘useless’ things taught to part of a bigger picture. Teaching children how to troubleshoot, investigate, set targets, solve problems etc are all things that can be applied to a wide variety of things in later life.
Technology may indeed help us educate our children but there is also a downside . Every time we take a leap forward in what we would call "current day " media something or some ideas are lost . Beta and VHS tapes were not all transferred to the new DVD medium so some content was lost . The same happened when DVD went to Bluray . Who remembers Toshibas rival to Bluray , I think it was called HD DVD . All media on that system will eventually be unplayable as no hardware will remain for it .
Mankind has already lost much knowledge even since the end of the Roman Empire . The ceramic art that decorated walls and floors in ancient villas is now considered a lost art form . We see these murals but with all our technology can’t replicate it . What we had in the past were tangible objects , Papyrus Scrolls taught us about the ancient Egyptians The Cuneiform Tablets of the Assyrians and Mesopotamians , the Rosetta Stone etc . Our Papyrus is storing data on the "cloud’ or a hard drive . Both mediums that are already becoming victims of planned obsolescence . They are not mediums of knowledge or technology set down in stone . They will be replaced and knowledge will be lost . I probably went off topic here but I have seen many changes in my life in learning . I used to teach . I attended a lecture at a prominent Melbourne university sometime ago . The theory put forward at that lecture really made me stop and take note . The lecturer’s theory was that if we keep storing data they way we are and changing systems of storage and the loss of data through that change, that hypothetically if an archaeologist in 10000 years was to excavate a petrol station in Melbourne , Australia , where we live, he would uncover the rows of petrol pumps and say " That was the gods they worshipped .That one is BP ultimate .That one is Caltex " Just like we did on Easter Island with the statues .
The reason for this is things we take for granted are the first technology lost because we presume that those which comes after us will have our knowledge . Sadly it is not the case . There are no surviving Ancient Egyptian records where they mention the Great pyramids at Cheops . It was taken for granted that following generations would know of them and their construction . Not the case . Lost technology .
Technology keeps changing, think of programmers who keep having to get with a new language. Learning how to count (without a calculator), how to read and spell (without spell check imposing a change). Music, which helps develop so many necessary skills - concentration, rhythm, independence of thought in playing a part in ensemble against other players. Growing vegetables and cooking is a mix of exercise and fun plus co-operation with others in preparing food and consuming it in friendship. Life skills are so vital. Learning to communicate and co-operate with peers.
A solid grounding in English is essential to the ability to communicate effectively - and if you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter what you know.
Maths is the ultimate form of logic. Whether you ever “use” it or not, an understanding of logical thought processes is something we all use - or should use every day.
Science is the basis of our society. You might never be a scientist, but understanding that science is a process of reasoning, and how that process works, gives you the tools to tell the difference between evidence-based fact and snake oil. That, perhaps more than any other thing right now, is critical. Climate change denial, anti-vaccination lies, anti-GMO nonsense, etc. are all indicators that huge numbers of people can’t tell the difference and that the education system has failed them.
Until the The Matrix becomes the reality (and that may not be far off) we’ll all continue to need those fundamental skills. Everything else, no matter how good and desirable, is secondary.