Why doesn’t school teach…

Apologies first! I was really poorly last week so I wasn’t actually able to write a waffle, hence why there was only a reference to my personal blog post which was suitably titled, Being Ill as a Singleton! Term has come to an end at university although our second and third years are still hard at it on placement so although I would normally hang up my waffling for the holidays, I thought I would continue for a while to give everyone something to read. As you might realise I am a bit of a budding YouTuber and it was while I was browsing through the videos that I can across a famous Youtuber blogging about education. Of course I had to listen and this is my response.

I’ve been in education a long, long time now and have experienced it from both the learner and teacher perspective. Education always appears to me as an occupation which is governed by others. It is a system which we are told what we have to teach and we, as practitioners, get on with it. With the government recently saying that they want all schools to be academies by 2020, the decision about what we actually teach in school might move away from central or local government and options might make learning more varied and subjects which currently have little time in the curriculum, e.g. the arts, might have their opportunity in the limelight! Recently, when browsing through Youtube, I came across a video from a well known blogger (Alfie @pointlessblog) titled “WHAT SCHOOL SHOULD TEACH YOU!” It made me smile that it would appear that even bloggers were starting to decide what we should teach in schools. I listened/watched the video but it got me thinking about the content of what we actually teach in school. This isn’t going to be a rant about the original video, it is more a waffle about what I consider a misinterpretation of what education/learning is about.

  • Taxes and relationships– It is probably worth putting the video into some sort of context. There appeared to be two main points within the video – please have a watch if you want – I’ve linked it below. Why doesn’t school teach you about tax forms and why don’t they teach you about relationships and breaking up etc. These are two issues that we all have to engage and endure within life and many of us have learnt how to cope with both of these through experience or working it out for ourselves – usually with support from colleagues, family members or even the internet. But do we actually teach this already within the education system?
  • “… for me, as a spotty, nerdy teenager – I think that dungeons and dragons would appear far more interesting than tax returns.”

  • Skills rather than knowledge– Within a recent mathematics session, student led, we were discussing whether, as learners, we are greedy for knowledge. I listened intently to the discussion, which was really good, pondering a consideration which always comes to my mind. I would say that I am very greedy for knowledge, but for me, this is almost the easy form of learning. I consider this approach to learning to mirror the ‘teacher’ telling me the answers or imparting knowledge at the front of the class. For me, I am very greedy for knowledge, but it is how a achieve this knowledge which is important to me. I want to develop the skills which I can then use to locate the knowledge. Skills for me are more important than the actual knowledge. If you tell me how to do my taxes then great! I can do them. However teach me the skills how to work out how to do them and how to find support, then I will be able to apply those skills to more than just taxes. In a similar way, relationships are varied and complex. It would be almost impossible to provide the knowledge to deal with every single break up or relationship ‘hiccup’, however promoting the skills associated with communication, self esteem and self confidence would probably go a long way to allowing you to success negotiate the rapids of relationships.

  • Do we teach skills? Are learners bothered?– Life is interesting. Being nearly fifty – ssshh don’t tell everyone – I’m at that point of thinking that I am half way through my life and somethings I am not actually going to be able to realistically achieve now. It also gives me the opportunity to look back and reflect on life to this point. School can be a very difficult time and there are a lot of hurdles to get over or through while learning. Motivation is not always at its highest during high school. Although practitioners known that it is important to be able to engage with various processes and mathematics, for me, as a spotty, nerdy teenager – I think that dungeons and dragons would appear far more interesting than tax returns. I do think that I learnt skills throughout my schooling however I probably never saw the relevance of these. Within my current teaching I hope that I teach skills to the learners as well as demonstrating the relevance of these – this is why I start all my sessions off by stating what we will be learning followed by why we are learning this. If there is no reason for the learning, then why spend time learning it. Although I wasn’t taught how to complete a tax return, I was armed with the skills of working our percentages, being able to read and understand and the skills to persevere and to ask for help/support when needed. As mentioned before, these are generic skills but probably have helped me in more than one situation.

  • I hope no-one feels I am having a go at the original blog. This was never my intention, I think that there are a lot of things that probably the education system could be perceived as needed to teach the learners. Although these all might appear to be of a priority, for me the important part of teaching and learning is to develop skills which then can be applied to a variety of situations – including life itself. When I look at ‘successful’ people, initially it might be their knowledge or creativity which is instantly recognisable, but behind this will be a wealth of skills which the person has developed over the years, one of which will undoubtably be perseverance. If anyone ever wants to provide me with all the knowledge I need to cope with relationships then please let me know – that is something which I and probably several others would be definitely be willing to pay for…

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or send them to me via Twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, Google+ or email.

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