Modern Education is Rubbish Part 1. Where Are We Now?October 27, 2006
To quote from the BBC:
One third of employers have to give their staff remedial lessons in basic English and maths, a survey suggests. Managers said staff needed to be able to use correct spelling and grammar and should be competent in simple mental arithmetic without a calculator. One in five employers said non-graduate recruits of all ages struggled with literacy or numeracy.
And similarly from the Guardian:
Universities are dismayed by the poor levels of literacy and numeracy among school leavers who arrive in higher education expecting to be “spoon-fed”, according to a new study. Tutors at 16 universities – including Oxford and Cambridge – complained that many school leavers lacked a good grip of grammar and had a “fear of numbers”.
And also from the BBC:
Britain is in danger of becoming a nation fearful of its young people, a report has claimed …… British adults were more likely than their other European counterparts to say that young people were predominantly responsible for anti-social behaviour, and cite “lack of discipline as the root cause of anti-social behaviour”. The Britons who were unwilling to get involved claimed they feared being physically attacked or verbally abused – or that they would be the victim of subsequent reprisals.
None is this will come as a surprise to the average teacher. For many teachers what we see in schools is pupils who haven’t learnt, won’t learn and won’t behave. The idea that schools leavers will lack basic skills and that many young people are acting like thugs is taken for granted.
Teachers do differ in what they believe the causes are. The parents, modern society and the media are often blamed. For teachers who went to grammar schools themselves the children seem so different from those they remember when they were at school that only a change in society could explain the spawning of a generation of uncooperative sociopaths. However, for those of us that went to “bog standard comprehensives” (or worse), today’s young don’t seem any more cruel, lazy or ignorant than our own generation.
What has changed is that behaviour we remember from the playground now takes place in the classroom, not only in front of teachers but sometimes with teachers as the victims. What has changed is that the unwillingness to learn has become blatant and public, and is most often manifested by a complete refusal to comply with anything a teacher asks a child to do. What has changed is that the swearing, fighting and bullying that once would have happened in those areas of the school hidden from the prying eyes of teachers (for instance the toilets or the bike sheds) now happens out in the open. When I was at school, kids used to hide from the teachers. Now, I more often see teachers hiding from the kids.
In this new environment it is no wonder that students can choose to go through school without learning. Faced with the worst forms of behaviour many teachers have long since ceased requiring all students to work or even to listen. I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who has been told by pupils who are unused to the act of learning “You don’t teach us properly, you just tell us what we need to know”. Some children will react with shock and anger at being presented with new material to learn. Some children are amazed that listening is expected, or reading, or writing. In fact for many children it is a huge surprise if anything happens in the classroom which prevents them from continuing the conversations they started at break. This isn’t a change in society. This is a change in schools. Somehow we have a culture in many schools where pupils are not expected to learn, not expected to behave, and not expected to exercise responsibility for themselves.
I don’t believe this is a result of social change. I don’t believe this is a fact of nature. I believe this is a result of the education system we have. I believe it’s time that system was changed.