Friday, 27 January 2012

Changing Education Paradigms

Do take a few minutes to watch this clip. I'd be very interested to hear what you think.


  1. Very interesting, Martin. It's hard to argue against what he's saying. You can't teach kids properly if you don't stimulate them, and the factory conveyor system isn't working.

    The idea seems to be to make everyone conform to a government/think-tank norm. Creativity and original thought can not flourish under those conditions.

    We always hear complaints that children are 'too grown up' nowadays, yet we won't let them be 'grown up' in ways that matter. Instead we wrap them in cotton wool and stifle their development.

    I was regularly making a coal fire in the home when I was still at primary school. It gave me an enormous sense of achievement and an even bigger feeling of responsibility and maturity, both physically and mentally, to be trusted with such an endeavour. Can you imagine anyone letting their kid do that nowadays; yet parents all over the world allow their precious ones to roam the paedophile's paradise that is the Internet without supervision.

    We are moulding our children into robots who may well have great eye hand coordination and enhanced spatial awareness because of playing video games, but are losing or subjugating their critical reasoning skills and creative 'outside the box' thinking.

    I always thought parents were supposed to want more for their children, not less. We are allowing and watching our children regress, intellectually, to a time when people thought they were worth nothing more than being pushed up a chimney with a brush. It seems we don't trust them to grow up any more.

    What happens when the Internet stops working? If the only thing we teach our children is to 'Google' the answer, what then?

    Nice video, Martin.

    1. Paul, I was taught how to lay and light a fire a very young age, too. But to bring your example into the 'now', an estate agent recently carried out a valuation on my daughter's house. He admired the period features and asked if the fireplaces were ever used. My daughter told him, yes. He replied, "I've been thinking of using ours, but you know, having a fire in the house. Tricky." Now, there's a lad that has been deprived of something important.

  2. It's a brilliant video which I have seen before. I agree with what he is saying and love how he says it with the drawings. Humans by nature slot people into boxes or categories and this is what has happened with education and I think it will continue this way by and large with most schools (not schools like Montessori however) because it is very difficult to do it the other way. We have whole systems set up the old way after school as well - TAFE vs University etc., which classify people. When you have a special needs child with say ADHD or ASD then the faults in the system become more obvious and a flexible approach which may include hoome schooling becomes essential. The system is just working for my son who has high functioning autism or aspergers but we are ready to change in whatever way is required if the system starts to fail (fingers crossed) :)

  3. Gabrielle, yes, it's done the rounds, this one. The system really needs a shake-up. When Blair was elected, he commissioned Ken Robinson to advise on the way children were taught. As far as I can see, little or no advice was taken. I think what you say about people being pigeon-holed is definitely true, in life. But the fact that the current system of education remains grounded in the 19th century, worries me. I think, politically, it's very convenient to maintain the status quo, but there are signs of a change in attitude, being driven largely by engaged parents.

    Our granddaughter is flexi-schooled. This involves a contract between the state-run primary and the parents. She attends school for two and a half days, and is home-educated for the remaining two and a half days. Fortunately, in the UK, there is no legal requirement to send your child to school, only to ensure that he or she receives an education. Although, I'm sure there people in the European Parliament who would like to change the law.

  4. Martin, the video makes many valid points but doesn't offer much in the way of fixing the system. As a former teacher, I heard a lot about "paradigm shift," but the paradigms eventually shifted back to doing things the way we've always done them.

    In the US standardized testing is currently driving our system, thanks to George W. Bush's "No Child Left Behind." The net result is that all kids are being left behind. We won't make room for innovation until we reduce the role of standardized testing.

    I found the section on ADHD interesting. At least three of my seven grandchildren would be labeled ADHD if they were taken to a testing facility. We've decided to view their characteristics as positives rather than negatives. Like the narrator, I'm not saying that there aren't kids who may need intervention for ADHD. I'm simply saying that some kids just have high energy levels and short attention spans, and that those can be assets as well as liabilities.

    I haven't heard of flexi-schooling. That seems a promising innovation, but so many families in the US are two-career families. I suppose that grandparents could become part-time educators!

    1. Much of what Ken Robinson suggests, would involve dismantling the system as we know it, and that just isn't going to happen any time soon. But I do think his message conveys some important pointers for those who are serious about children realising their potential. We have SATS in the UK too, and many teachers regard them as being more hindrance than help.

      Flexi-schooling is quite new, here. At least, we had never heard of it until the local Home Education Group flagged it up. These are early days, but we are slowly discovering the right balance for SW.

      If you haven't read it, 'The Element' by Ken Robinson, is well worth a look. We applaud our daughter and son-in-law, for taking this rather unusual route, and we support them in any way we can, even when that means that we become part-time educators.

  5. My husband and I enjoyed this video very much - we were just having a conversation along similar lines. On the one hand, we want our daughter to learn about things that we can't teach her ourselves, and to meet other children and learn how to get along with people she doesn't necessarily like or agree with. On the other hand school *can* be such a sausage-factory and have great pressures for a certain kind of socialisation, and "taming" of a questioning and creative mind.

    I agree very much with his point about all the stimulation that kids get. I've often reflected that if I were a teenager nowadays, in a time where the economy is reported as going down the tubes, young people can't find work no matter how brilliant their qualifications, and the planet is under severe threat and we're told we're all going to be flooded out... would I be motivated to work hard and grow up to embrace the future? I think I would just want to go back under the duvet!

    Scotland has rolled out the Curriculum for Excellence now to secondary schools. Its ideals are laudable - interdisciplinary teaching, encouraging active and independent learning, etc. And the reality is complete chaos, as far as I can see.

  6. Glad you enjoyed the video. Your first paragraph reflects exactly the dilemma faced by my daughter and her husband. Initially, they took the Home Education route. Then, last September, when flexi-schooling was offered, they decided this might provide the balance they were looking for. It makes a lot of difference if you have a healthy and supportive Home education group, locally. The one we were involved with, had some teachers in its number. In fact, we've met a few teachers who have opted to educate their children at home.

    Like many fundamental areas of life, education has long been a political football. I'm sure their are many well intentioned people behind such initiatives as the Curriculum for Excellence, but there is a shocking lack of political will to spark the revolution in education that's necessary. Too many projects simply re-badged until they run out of steam. Far too much tinkering at the edges, and too little effort to force real change. No wonder more and more parents are taking up the reins, themselves.

  7. So many questions and conundrums. As a one-time teacher, I pity those teaching now -- children come to school used to the entertainment factor of the Internet and TV -- A hard act to follow for the teacher. And here in the States, in an attempt to make sure children are learning, there are more and more mandated test and the teachers spend much of their time 'teaching to the test' as opposed to a bit of creative wandering.

    The system you mention -- home schooling combined with school attendance sounds promising.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.