This post is really in response to a comment left on my previous blog post Comenius to John Swinney and all that in between.(thanks Richard, glad someone reads them !) It really got me thinking about the deeper meaning behind education and I feel it is right to respond with my own opinions on the matter.
Firstly , what is education?
Well there are definitions to be found across the world and of course, once again , one persons perception of what education is can vastly differ from another’s.
In my own opinion education is whatever we do to ensure the survival of our species, we educate to survive to learn to adapt…
Now that in itself can be a blog post all on its own because what do we need to survive? (so profound for a Saturday ) But really in essence we need to learn to adapt to the ever changing landscape which means that teachers in charge of “educating” should be teaching skills for life and work ( funnily enough there is a document of just that name! also another about developing the young workforce!)
What really had me thinking was how do we measure whether or not education is “performing” or “right ” for our children. And who makes these decisions and why?
On reflections there are really no real answers to these questions.
I may hazard a guess on my own understanding that decisions are made on what education should be and how we will measure by governments that are looking to, and rightly so, ensure we have future generations capable of tackling jobs that do not even exist right now, which in turn will ensure economic security of our country and at a very base level future existence and sustainability.
Our very own unique curriculum has undergone several changes as governments look to the future in deciding what our young people need to learn in order to be “responsible citizens, successful learners, confident individuals and effective contributors”( to do what exactly ?)
Yet the underlying theories of how children learn and learn best have been around for centuries.
The truth is we wont ever know, despite pisa scores ,how well we are performing because at the heart is bureaucratic nonsense and the egotistical need to be “the best” and quite frankly dropping pass rates in order to achieve better scores (which I know happens) and teaching purely for the test is not a transparent and good way of determining achievements. This merely sets learners up for failure in future where perhaps a leap to university level learning comes as a huge shock… no longer spoon fed and expected to be autonomous in their own learning. Not able to ask or even explore the big Questions… challenge and push for change?
Even when we look at University learning , what is it we expect? is it education ?
Well I could argue yes it is because education is explicitly linked to learning and we all know that we learn or we would never be awarded a degree. But on the other hand I could argue that University is merely training for work. I will leave that for you , the reader, to ponder.
In conclusion, and purely my own opinion I strongly believe that we need to rip it right back at every level of “education” and remember that the research shows people, in general, learn more when something is engaging,fun and set in contexts that are familiar with the right amount of challenge. We need to, as educators, remember that we too have much to learn , from theories , from each other and ultimately from the learners themselves. We will always as a profession face challenges and change but if we are to succeed for the sake of our children then we all need to be asking the hard questions, challenging our own beliefs and values and exploring the notion that there may be a better way but what we absolutely must do is make a stand and fight for what we believe in!