Task 1 – Justice of change

Posted by Martha on Feb 16, 2016

Robinson’s talk was very negative about the current education system (the animation was great though!) and while he did raise some interesting points, he didn’t offer any solutions. What are the solutions to grouping kids according to age? Grouping them according to reading age or how well they do in tests across the board? The problem then would be that you could have kids that are great at reading but not so good at writing or maths, or at different maturity levels, or different physical sizes.

Categorising people into arty or academic strengths is something I’m guilty of, “oh my sister’s studying photography at uni, she’s more arty than academic.” This assumption can lead to children choosing a certain path and not exploring other routes. Schooling and education gives you the opportunity to investigate your interests further and perhaps discover interests that you didn’t know you had. I think there needs to be more focus on linking all subjects across the curriculum. I have come across the subject of Ebacc, which introduces the links between English, Maths, History, Geography, Science & Art, and how they are applied in real life. Students get the opportunity to work in groups and individually to explore different problems and work on projects together. This definitely encourages divergent thinking and enables students to solve problems together.

What I got from both the video and the article is that it’s not what we’re teaching that is the problem, but how it’s being taught. How do we teach children to enjoy and learn maths? Maths isn’t about memorising and regurgitating complicated content and I agree that we need to encourage problem solving and independent learning, but how? What methods should be used and how do we lead them in the right direction? Giving students long and complicated problems to solve, could be beneficial for them, and develop their critical thinking skills and ability to ask questions. But it could also result in students finding it too difficult, getting bored, becoming disruptive and not learning much at all.

Some of the most effective teaching I’ve seen involves group work and mixed ability teaching, where the students can help and learn from each other. So, my main question is, why is there so much individual testing? Surely the whole point of education is to evolve students interests in different subjects, aid their learning, and make them more robust and resilient for the future. I think teachers find this hard because whilst they want to teach students to learn and like their subject, they also have to teach students to get good grades in their exams, because that’s how schools are judged. It seems like they are being taught to take exams rather than in preparation for life after school. Are we teaching the children of today the skills that are necessary to face the big bad world?

5 Comments

  1. pball1
    22 February 2016

    Hey Martha, great piece, I think as humans we are all too guilty of putting individuals, both children and adults, into categories which we deem that they fit. The concept of stereotyping probably won’t ever go away. I am a firm believer that any individual can be good or even great at something if they work hard and do not allow failures to defeat them, the only difference will be is that each will learn how to do something at different rates. I think your argument on group work is spot on, the reality is that when an individual goes on to full employment, the likelihood is that they will required to work within a team.

  2. Charli
    22 February 2016

    Great piece, Martha. I feel exactly the same about the practicalities of non-age grouping. I that any other grouping method would encounter its own difficulties. I like the EBacc route and its way of adding cross curricula importance. I think that our schooling system is scared of group work as it assumes that someone will take charge and someone will hide in the background avoiding work. If we were to use group work more often this would make the fear decrease and increase the effectiveness of how students work as a team.

  3. Ray
    22 February 2016

    I agree with your key point that there is a focus on students getting good grades because that is how teachers and students are judged.

  4. fbontemps
    23 February 2016

    “Maths isn’t about memorising and regurgitating complicated content”. So right, if you take that away from anyone who has learned from this method of teaching it’s as if you’ve taken Captain America’s shield away from him. New methods and new structures are so necessary. Thanks!

  5. pepsmccrea
    23 February 2016

    Strong first thinkpiece. You raise LOTS of highly relevant questions that the articles leave you with, and you are reflecting deeply on how the ideas encountered relate to your own experience. In particular, great to see you teasing out the tension between pedagogy and assessment.

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