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10 ‘Home Truths’ about Schooling and Education

I was frustrated last night as dougbelshaw.com wasn’t working and I couldn’t post the following. These came to me at various points yesterday and kind of melded themselves into a blog post.

So here’s what’s on my mind:

 

 

  1. For there to be ‘good’ parents there must be ‘bad’ parents. The same is true of teachers.
  2. It is almost impossible to effect a fundamental change in worldview in an individual whom you see as part of a class of ~30 for less than an hour per week.
  3. To learn how to ride a bicycle you have to take the stabilisers off at some point. In the same way, Internet safety cannot be taught effectively in an artificially closed, filtered, environment.
  4. More content ? more achievement.
  5. Being good at passing examinations does not mean an individual will be of benefit of society or ‘flourish’ (in an Aristotelian sense)
  6. Technology often serves to magnify talents and, moreover, weaknesses in pedagogy.
  7. If some pilots knew the same about flying as some teachers know about ‘real’ teaching, the aircraft would never get to its destination.
  8. It may be a cliché to cite time-motion studies that show that the majority of time in school, children are waiting for something to happen. This does not mean, however, that the situation has been rectified.
  9. If the school is a business, then each department should know how the others fit into corporate aims and philosophies. If it is not, and is child-centred, it needs to have a holistic approach. Either way, most schools need to improve communication between subject areas.
  10. One of the chief functions of schools in the 21st century is to babysit children for ever-increasing periods of time (think: extended schools).

3 ‘well, duh’ BBC Education articles

BBC EducationSometimes there’s some articles on the BBC News Education pages that make you wonder who’s paying for the research they’re based upon. Here’s 3 just from yesterday:

  • 71% of pupils admit being a bully – and the other 29% are liars if, as I suspect, ‘bullying’ has been very widely defined. Real bullying can blight lives and should not be condoned under any circumstances. Minor name-calling and fallings-out, on the other hand (although some will no doubt disagree), are all part of growing up. It’s the human equivalent of play-fighting in animals.
  • Some exams ‘harder than others’ – really? My goodness! Groundbreaking news. And surprise, surprise, they found History GCSE is harder than Geography GCSE. Perhaps historians’ jibes that Geographers do nothing but colour things in have some credence after all… 😉
  • Unions ‘protecting poor teachers’ – this is something I feel strongly about. There’s a lot of talented people out there who should be in our schools rather than some of the no-hopers I’ve come across in previous schools. I haven’t (thankfully) come across any in my current school, but that’s why we’re a high-achieving specialist school. Having recently received the latest issue of my union’s magazine it’s clear that a great deal of the time they ‘protect’ whinging teachers who really need to get out of the profession and do something to which they’re more suited. That’s not to say that unions don’t do a good job some of the time – both my Dad and myself have had positive experiences – but they really do need to face up to the fact that some teachers aren’t up to the job. There’s only so much ‘professional development’ people can do! :p

What do you think?

5 things School of Rock can teach us about real education

School of Rock

I watched School of Rock a couple of nights ago. Unbelievably, given that I absolutely love High Fidelity – which stars Jack Black in a somewhat similar role – I’d never seen it before. The film was great and I really enjoyed it; I also thought it gave some pointers as to what real learning experiences should look like.

Obviously, I don’t think that it’s acceptable for substitute teachers(or ‘supply’ teachers as we call them over here) to be unchecked and do whatever they want in the classroom. It’s not that aspect I think is laudable. Instead, it’s the following

  1. Project-based learning – the students in School of Rock work on one big project. If this was organised by a qualified teacher, department or faculty, then this could incorporate many different skills rather than trying to teach skills and content separately.
  2. Drawing out students’ talents – At first some of the students seem to be given roles that are an after-thought, ones which are not important. However, the students grow into these roles and make them their own. For example, the student who produces a lighting show is amazingly talented – but would never have had the opportunity to discover this if it wasn’t for the project.
  3. Developing confidence – The system of gold stars and receiving grades for each piece of work keeps students in their seats and keeps them well-disciplined in the film. This is necessary in some schools where students have very disorganised and fragmentary home lives. However, in most schools students need creative freedom and the opportunity to work to their strengths, building confidence in their own ability.
  4. Teamwork – Instead of working individually (or nominally in pairs), students in School of Rock had to depend on one another. They were all vitally involved towards the same end which made them seem valued and developed their interpersonal skills.
  5. Real-world experiences – The students work towards something called Battle of the Bands. Although the students do not win this competition, the experience of playing in front of a live audience and showing their parents what they have been up is invaluable. This made me think of students publishing their work for bigger audiences through blog posts, YouTube videos, etc.

Which films have you seen that you think relate to education?

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