Understanding education is not easy. We all think we know what it means but when it comes to defining it and suggesting improvements the challenge becomes amorphous. I’m trying to create a framework to help improve curriculum and pedagogy.
I’ve come across historical commentary which is as relevant today as it was decades ago.
This extract written in 1867 is sadly relevant today.
The mode of teaching in primary schools has certainly fallen off in intelligence, spirit and inventiveness during the four or five years which have elapsed since my last report. It could not well be otherwise. In a country where everyone is prone to rely too much on mechanical processes and too little in intelligence, a change in the Education Department’s regulations, which, by making two-thirds of the Government grant depend on mechanical examination, inevitably gives a mechanical turn to the school teaching … In the game of mechanical contrivances […] as it is now found possible, by ingenious preparation, to get children through the Revised Code examination i reading writing and ciphering, so it will with practice no doubt be found possible to get the three-fourths if the the one-fifth of the children over six through the examination in grammar, geography and history, without their really knowing any one of these three matters.
Arnold added a couple of years later:
The circle of children’s reading has … been narrowed and impoverished all the year for the sake of a result at the end of it and the result is an illusion.
One example observed personally is that children in local schools are given the answers to their national secondary examinations prior to the exam so that they can memorise answers. I’ve seen it in English, French and Science and I suppose it occurs in other subjects too.
This might not be the case in your child’s school, but it is certainly pandemic and dominant in public schools where most of humankind receives an “education”. This is gross foolishness in a complex, sophisticated world where ingenuity, creativity and initiative are increasingly required to become self-supporting.