Category Archives: 2.2 Education Systems & Prof. Responsibilities

Ett, två, tre…

100_6431This week we looked at the Education System in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, which has been long praised and admired. Before joining this course, I had never really considered the starting age of school in this country, as it is the norm that I have grown up with. However, upon looking at research and other systems across the world, I am questioning exactly why our children start school at 5, sometimes even 4.

Why do our children start on or around their 5th birthday?                                                           What are the issues surrounding children starting school before 6?                                      Are there drawbacks to starting formal education so late?

Below is a clip from 2013 discussing whether children, as in Scandinavian countries, should start school age 7:

The clip raises some interesting arguments, pointing out the importance of play in the early years. While children are highly intelligent (as one woman points out), it is good for them to learn through play, developing skills that they will need for further education – and life in general – such as communication and cooperation with others. This informal learning means children will be motivated to learn – a type of motivation that does not come from being told to sit down and complete a worksheet. Fun and exploration are crucial at this age, and denying children this right is, potentially, killing their desire for learning and school in general.

Why do you think Swedish children are attaining higher literacy skills?

The above video raises two possible conclusions about why Scandinavian children perform so well: their later starting age; or the higher qualified teachers.

In these such countries, it is necessary for teachers of any level to have a masters degree. classroomHowever, I do not believe that you need a masters degree to be a successful teacher. I believe that teaching is a natural talent which can be developed and polished through a degree, but is ultimately an intrinsic skill.

I believe that Scandinavia’s success is more likely to be because of their later starting age. Children have longer to develop social and personal skills through play at an early age, meaning that they are ready to start school and concentrate more on their learning.

Assessment – do we over assess our children?

I believe that they way teachers must assess children is totally against the type of culture we are trying to promote in schools. I understand that is useful to keep written assessment pieces, especially in upper years of primary, however, children at such a young age cannot be assessed as often this way. Teacher observation and actually communicating with the children is a much better way of gauging where the children are at in terms of their academic development.

Professionalism Online

What challenges/opportunities you may be faced with when marrying the personal vs the professional presence on social media?

Having a profile that is a mix of personal and professional life is dangerous, however, I believe it can have great benefits. If you have a shared account, it can allow colleagues (or pupils in an older situation i.e. university) to see another side to you that may not have been shown in your professional self. It allows them to have a rapport with you as they know other things about your personality which may not be conveyed in other professional situations. Common interests can arise and often make partnership working and collaborative projects easier.

However, there is a flip side to these potential advantages. If you have a lifestyle where you are having nights out that you wouldn’t want employers to see, then this mixture of profiles can prove to be costly in terms of your professionalism and potentially your career. A lively night of drinking can lead to consequences of its own, however, this also gives your employer or future employers an indication of your commitment to work and your professional ethics. This can be true of many careers, but particularly in the teaching profession, I believe that you must have a certain degree of maturity to accept that you may have to conduct yourself responsibly in and out of the classroom.

I’m not saying that by having a shared personal and professional profile you cannot have a social life, but I strongly believe that if you are taking this route you must have serious considerations about what you do outwith work.

How are the challenges/opportunities afforded by social media framed? How will you frame things – positive or deficit viewpoint?

The media play a large part in how social media is perceived and how it affects the role of teachers and other professionals. It won’t take long to look through a newspaper, or watch the news to find many examples of hyperbole which are simply not necessary. The recent example of a Dundee teacher who clicked on the wrong video made the front pages, when it was a simple mistake on their part and was corrected in under 10 seconds. It is these examples which will make teachers wary of using technology in classrooms, and will affect the education of the next generation – the children who are living in a technological world and many of whom will be working in this world in the future. Studies have shown that the need for software developers in particular will increase by around 30% in upcoming years.

While I look on technology in the classroom in a positive manner, and believe that it is essential to develop skills which may have already been introduced at home, I also believe that there are some negative points to consider. For example, not all households will have a computer. While the vast majority do, it may isolate children if there are internet related homework tasks which they cannot complete. However, the teacher can easily gauge this by asking the children, or parents and can change lessons and homework to suit their class. While classroom interaction should not be taken away from the school system – as it develops their social skills and abilities to make friends which may stay with them through life – there is certainly a growing place for computers and other technology in the classroom. The days of 1 computer per classroom will soon be coming to an end.