Monday, September 25, 2006

No one has to be about to die for you to save a life...

Education. Not one of my normal rants, its just I've noticed that this country has heavily standardised the education system. By standadised I mean improved the worse case, and this seems to have been done at the cost of the best case. My mother teaches in primary (elementary) schools, in the past 5 years more and more plans and assorted paperwork have to be done before a class is taught. It seems to take up all of her time.

Ofsted is the sword hung continually over their heads - "if your plans arn't up to date, or your not teaching from them, we'll be in trouble". It means that huge quantities of her time are spent writing these lession plans (short, mid-range and long term plans) that used to be used directly on lesson time. Apparently NQTs (newly qualified teachers) have the habbit of just downloading plans from the internet, complete with lists of questions to ask the children, filing them, and then reading them just before the class is due to be taught.

This seems sick strange and wrong! The government may have stopped closed door teaching, the dirty old man who teaches nothing but fear of the establishment, but the great teaching, the lessons that inspire children to interest also dissapear. The childhood lessons that you remember are the strange ones that arn't scripted - the ones where you take apart the old class tape player "just because". The ones where you spent the whole morning on a painting because the teacher's having a bad day (cant do that now, heaven forbid missing Numercy Hour).

Ensuring wall to wall mediocrity is a fine goal for a police state, but something has to be done if we want to keep kids interested in the world. If kids are endlessly told to go and colour the picture in when they finish all their work ahead of the class, they might stop trying to work faster than their class.

I've always believed that play is the best way to learn, and that applied learning is endlessly more useful. My brother asks why they are studying detailed poetry in secondary (high) school, and how finding images of the 20th century will help him in life, over say installing windows or how to get a good deal when shopping. The only answer I can really think of is "to keep you busy so your parents can go to work".

But ok, being a realist I cant think of a better way to improve the worst case teaching apart from standardisation. Its a shame that it has to impact all teachers good and bad to work at all!

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