Richard’s Opinions

Michael Rosen’s comment that: “The education system is ‘working’ – in the same way that dying cures illness.” is really quite apt and probably in a much broader sense than his article infers.

Bureaucracy has been a major component of schools, at least since the days of Thatcherism back in the 1980s. Accountability was her Government’s watchword. Unfortunately, this led to a lot of mistrust, spying on others in 1984 Orwellian fashion, and leading now in 2016 to Tory Machiavellianism. Furthermore, the interests of large corporations and multinationals, intent on creating more consumers, has completely diluted the role of education as a nurturing ground to equip children and young people with the broadest tools they require to progress with ongoing fulfilment, in a rapidly changing world environment.

Instead, we are told that it is good to strive hard for wealth through menial work, that we should be prepared to survive on as little as possible, with the promise of eventual freedom from such servitude, whilst at the same time witnessing the corruption and greed of those who set the ‘moral’ examples in our ever increasingly jaundiced society – held in check by fear of terrorism balanced with lavish celebrity-driven television shows that only offer young people unrealistic expectations on a par with winning the lottery jackpot.

Returning to school, not only have I witnessed the poor quality of some exam-board produced materials being riddled with errors, but the pettiness of some of the detail required to answer questions is outrageous. And often, none of this detail really matters at the levels being tested. Understanding of method is ridden over roughshod for getting the right answer from a one-off example that no longer has contemporary validity. If teachers and savvy parents are not disillusioned by some of the material their children are given, or bring home to work with, then they must be either blind, brainwashed, or hypnotised, into thinking this is part of normal.

Keeping children behind closed doors in segregated buildings in the 21st Century is no longer a normal situation. Either we must take personal responsibility within the family for educating our own children, or we must agree that all we wish to do is produce good little consumers. If the latter is true, then why not give schooling over to corporations – via Academies or otherwise? Let our children have the best training in berger-making with no expense spared on up-to-date equipment. If that’s where most of them are headed after school or university anyway, why delay the inevitable with middleman state schooling? Put the money saved into the NHS and old people’s care – after all, we no longer have people with disabilities and no one is allowed to die anymore!

line 3px

George Monbiot argues that the more time children spend in the classroom, the worse they do at school because our narrow education system only rewards a particular skill set. He says that when you take failing pupils to the countryside, they often thrive – yet funding for outdoor education is being cut.

Classroom technology ‘rarely used’ by half of teachers
One of the reasons not mentioned for why teachers do not make more use of their technology is that they are rarely given sufficient time, let alone training, to use said equipment. Furthermore, my experience with teachers and technology suggests that a short intensive training is wasted if the teachers do not continue to work with the technology on at least a weekly basis.

line 3px

Children should learn mainly through play until age of eight, says Lego

Government educational policies in the UK have taken little interest in child development research over the past 20 years. Add to this that most parents, whilst often struggling to make ends meet, have little time for playing with their kids in creative ways – often leaving them alone with electronic devices. A common complaint levelled at our schools, is that literacy standards are low – which is no surprise to me, since almost no one in education understands how ‘normal’ children learn to read. Current state education promotes removal of children from situations where contextual learning can develop naturally. Furthermore, children do not develop at exactly the same rates in all areas at the same ages. With Government obsessions of continually stressing children and teachers with earlier and more assessments, tests, and ridiculous attainment targets, we have turned an already declining education system into nothing more than factory farming leading to sameness and mediocre productivity.

As a child of the 60s and 70s, I learnt a lot of skills and knowledge through creative play and was fortunate to have parents who understood its value. The Lego company may have a vested interest in promoting its products through research into play, but I reckon most people who have enjoyed many hours playing with Lego bricks won’t mind their interest at all.


Hits: 109