Monday, 27 July 2009

By Rote

I began my education just short of my 5th birthday in 1959. My Mum recalls how she pecked me on the cheek, turned and briskly walked red-faced from the building. My vociferous protests were approaching levels that could shatter glass when another mother asked, “who on earth does that child belong to?” My mother sheepishly replied, “I don’t know,” before heading for the school gate.

The couple of years I attended that Infant School has only left me the memory of fun we had in the playground and the sheer joy of going home.

In the classrooms I suffocated in the chalk-dust atmosphere and discovered daydreaming in the inertia of systematic teaching methods. My teachers all seem to have had their personalities removed and they punished non-conformists by way of humiliation. Standing on your chair, standing in the corner or struggling with the physically impossible task of placing fingers on lips and hands on heads. Unless you had been blessed with tentacles instead of digits you were always going be an under-achiever.

Things have moved on of course. In September our two year old granddaughter is due to start pre-school. Now play-doh has replaced plasticine and teams of staff are more likely to display systematic enthusiasm for hand-painting and positive interaction. The EYFS, or Early Years Foundation Stage has an impressive poster that outlines its key objectives.

Ideas about what education really is or should be has been the subject of debate for an awful long time. Many people probably don’t stop to consider it. They are a product of the same system that served their parents and grandparents. A system that was basically designed, according to Sir Ken Robinson, to meet the needs of industrialism.

If you have a few minutes to spare, I would encourage you to watch the following clip of a speech given by Robinson. It might just have an unexpected effect on the way you think about education in the future.


  1. Thanks for the link to this, Martin. Brilliant speech - although I'm embroiled in a 'discussion' with a friend of mine (who's an ex-lecturer in physical geography and claims this is taught very creatively) about it. I will share your link around a bit if that's ok?

  2. It's inspiring, isn't it? You may also be interested in Making Sense too.

    Please feel free to share the link. It's a good cause, and having spent a considerable time in a learning environment, I support the call for a shake up.

  3. aha! I did read that other one when you did it... and posted a comment, though it was rather flippant!

  4. brokenbiro - So you did! The book's good one, and is possibly in your place of work.


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