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Thread: The hedumacation system in modern Britain

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Yes, but doesn't inculcating an attitude of "doing well at the job that they have been given" simply turn students into these drones?
    I think the point is less about doing well at the job you've been given than about developing the self discipline to sit down and do the hard or tedious stuff that has to be done for whatever reason, so that whether you eventually decide to overthrow the state by armed rebellion or to make fat stacks of cash as an investment banker you can actually go out and do it rather than rapidly losing interest and following the path of least resistance.

  2. #32
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    i dont enjoy my degree, but that's because i think the exams are an ass and it's really badly taught (and i probably should have heeded the warnings about the subject).

    i loved a-levels.

  3. #33
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    actually no, it's not that i should have heeded the warnings, it's their fault not mine. i need to stop blaming myself when i've been let down.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    This sort of smells of neoliberal fetishization of the individual where your fate is completely determined by your own choices... like you could slip into castigating "welfare mothers" for being poor because they are lazy at any minute. You must be very happy in your program!
    Aaarararrrarraggghghgghghh!

  5. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    And can't you use the "you chose this job yourself" argument in any number of situations in our "free employment" economy? I've "chosen" many jobs I haven't particularly liked or desired, but I did them because I had to. Luckily no one was demanding I enjoy it!
    Your choice is poverty or make a positive contribution to society and earn a living from that. It's the same choice for everybody pretty much throughout history. Nobody said you will enjoy it!

  6. #36

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    What to do about poor/pointless courses:

    Mixed Biscuits

    Ask your prof for extra, more interesting work or do some off your own back? Find out why you need a stockpile of facts? Change subjects? Do S-Levels too? Campaign to have the system changed?

    Or just eat it and plough through the courses anyway
    Well yeah... in fact what I did was get angry and disillusioned and mess it all up, and I got round to learning stuff by myself a few years later but with no qualifications at the end of it.

    You are right but I think it's very hard for a 15-17 year old to come to that line of thinking and very unlikely they are going to be able to change anything about the education system from their position.

    I was trying to put forward the idea that it's a shame so many syllabuses (syllabi?) just teach you how to pass the exam and not much more, and really it's letting down everyone.
    Yes you can easily get a qualification if you can be bothered to do some simple work but you don't actually learn about the subject much. You can go off and learn about it in your own time but you won't be rewarded with any recognised qualifications.
    So you can learn in a shallow memorising way and get a qualification and maybe a job.
    Or you can learn more deeply and not get a qualification and find it harder to get a job.
    (yes, you could do both but what a twisted system!)

    If you are an employer, you have no way to know how much someone really understands about a subject by looking at their exam results because so little real understanding is required to get good grades at GCSEs and A Levels. You can just see if they are a good "knuckle down"-er.

    OK I'm exaggerating for effect, some courses are probably very good. These were my feelings when I was at school.... and it's not just me making excuses for being thick.... i was one of the top students at my school before I got tired of it all.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Your choice is poverty or make a positive contribution to society and earn a living from that. It's the same choice for everybody pretty much throughout history. Nobody said you will enjoy it!
    Poverty as a choice! We really do live in the best of all possible worlds!

  8. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gavin View Post
    Poverty as a choice! We really do live in the best of all possible worlds!
    Poverty would probably be the default option. Making a living and surviving is the choice, the active solution. Even hunter gatherers are faced with the possibility of either bumming around all day or going out and getting some food.

    Society shouldn't need to solve your problems for you

  9. #39

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    Iím currently sitting my A Levels and the whole system, where I have to abdicate my own opinion for the sake of complying with the curriculum, really riles me. I remember that, when preparing for GCSE History and English exams, I was specifically told not to specify my own opinion and simply be as impartial as possible when answering essay questions. Although I have been given more freedom whilst studying A Level History and English Lit. for the past two years, Iíve found that my peers have become so used to the complacency of being totally neutral that, when asked to offer their opinion on an issue, theyíre indecisive and not used to it.

    As for the people in this thread who are teachers, I have a lot of respect for you. I would never, ever dream of becoming a teacher, having witnessed what kids get away with classrooms these days; and Iíve spent the past seven years in an inoffensive, well-behaved Grammar School!

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    I was trying to put forward the idea that it's a shame so many syllabuses (syllabi?) just teach you how to pass the exam and not much more, and really it's letting down everyone.
    Yes you can easily get a qualification if you can be bothered to do some simple work but you don't actually learn about the subject much. You can go off and learn about it in your own time but you won't be rewarded with any recognised qualifications.
    So you can learn in a shallow memorising way and get a qualification and maybe a job.
    Or you can learn more deeply and not get a qualification and find it harder to get a job.
    (yes, you could do both but what a twisted system!)
    I agree. The system is so formulaic and it seems that the stock learning of facts is all that is needed to get high grades, which I also believe is a predominant reason explaining why, for want of a better term, absolute idiots can get good grades. There's no need for higher intelligence or genuine passion for a subject. As you've also said, my reasons for thinking this do not stem from me being an embittered poor-achiever,as I'm far from it, but just a total disillusionment with the system which has caused me to wonder why I should even be bothering at all.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pulchritude View Post
    Iíve found that my peers have become so used to the complacency of being totally neutral that, when asked to offer their opinion on an issue, theyíre indecisive and not used to it.
    Yeah, this state of affairs isn't helped by most teachers' wish to 'empower' their students by flaccidly accepting everything that they say, meaning that every classroom 'debate' proceeds in an indistinct, superficial manner, as discussion jumps from one vaguely relevant, unstructured point to another.

    OR there is meaty debate and it does end up somewhere interesting but inevitably miles away from the pot-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow that is the 'learning objective,' whereupon new discoveries have to be discarded to toe the curriculum line.

    The prevailing flaccidity of opinion has also come about because teachers themselves (and certainly the teacher trainers that I've known) think that demonstrating strong or clear-cut views on anything, excepting the odd socially-acceptable 'strong' (parroted) views that are occasionally 'legitimised' by mass repetition eg. 'STOP THE WAR!,' is a sign of a closed mind or too muscular a flexing of one's authority.

  11. #41
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    Lots of differnt ideas coming through here.

    There is skill in constructing an argument rather than just leaping to the first thing you think of - the art of rhetoric certainly has its place. Too often argument turns into a might is right event - witness he (and it usually is he) who shouts loudest as the default method of debate. If a teacher brings in an element of constriction i.e. arguing from a unusual pov - that's good isn't it?

    i'd suggest despite the wailing to the contrary that most contributors here have had some good teachers - nearly everyone is able to construct their arguments soundly

    Most, if not all of the people contributing here are winners (if dissatisfied) in the educational sysytem - you have choices, they may seem invidious but they are choices. The boy in my class who cannot read the word 'moon' at 14 seems to me to be a person for whom the system really does not work. It's not about teaching towards some illusory examintion but instead giving him some kind of skill to get through life.

    Finally, I don't see what's wrong with a learning objective, I'd rather a teacher had some idea of what it is that they wants their class to learn than the vague mumblings and 'get on with it yourself' education that i suffered in the 70s and 80s.

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenks View Post
    Finally, I don't see what's wrong with a learning objective, I'd rather a teacher had some idea of what it is that they wants their class to learn than the vague mumblings and 'get on with it yourself' education that i suffered in the 70s and 80s.
    I agree that having an idea of what you are supposed to be learning can be empowering for students and serve to focus the teacher's efforts.

    However, learning objectives can be too prescriptive and, as the teacher tends to be 'working towards' them, can restrict the scope of some lessons. LO-driven teaching - teaching that has greater designs (ie the predicted 'learning outcomes') on the learner than the errant rambling of yore - can sometimes be particularly irritating for the more creative, intelligent student. They might disagree with the Learning Outcomes: for example, if they are something like: 'by reading passage X, we can see that technique Y lets us see Z about character A' (which, granted, would be a decent challenge for many students), or, if they do agree with the Outcomes, they may spot them coming a mile off and, feeling that their responses have been second-guessed, contribute only half-heartedly for the remainder of the lesson.

    It was amusing (and depressing) seeing the less nimble tutors at University struggle when confronted with useful, correct but 'off-message' points that they could neither integrate satisfactorily into their objective nor dismiss convincingly - this is stressful for the teacher as the lesson can then be a 'failure,' even if the class has actually learnt more than they would have otherwise - by taking a longer, more scenic route, but ending up at the 'wrong' destination.
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 08-06-2007 at 11:48 PM.

  13. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenks View Post
    Finally, I don't see what's wrong with a learning objective, I'd rather a teacher had some idea of what it is that they wants their class to learn than the vague mumblings and 'get on with it yourself' education that i suffered in the 70s and 80s.
    From what Iíve read, I donít believe anyone in this thread has any argument with that, itís just that itís escalated to suffocating levels of control; thereís a difference between having teaching objectives and force-feeding students all the information.

    I definitely wouldnít knock my teachers because, on the whole, my experiences with them have been quite positive. For the most part, Iíve had teachers who have been willing to allow us to discuss issues, and introduced different views, whilst still being able to correct the ideas of a student who is clearly wrong. I just think that, if given more scope within the teaching guidelines, they could help to develop students into something much more than a robotic exam-taking machines since, at the moment, the only chance we ever used to get to discuss a world outside of textbooks was in PSHE lessons, and they're generally renowned for being total doss lessons.

  14. #44
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    I'm going to pick on Vimothy because I don't agree with these posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Your choice is poverty or make a positive contribution to society and earn a living from that. It's the same choice for everybody pretty much throughout history. Nobody said you will enjoy it!
    Lots of things people (have to) do to earn money might make a positive contribution to their boss's / company shareholders' bank accounts, but not necessarily to society.

    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Poverty would probably be the default option. Making a living and surviving is the choice, the active solution. Even hunter gatherers are faced with the possibility of either bumming around all day or going out and getting some food.

    Society shouldn't need to solve your problems for you
    Would hunter-gatherers really have to work 40+ hour weeks to survive in most places?
    Even if they did I bet they wouldn't be anywhere near so alienated from what they are doing as huge numbers of workers are today.

    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Society shouldn't need to solve your problems for you
    What if, just maybe, those problems had something to do with deficiencies in the structure of 'society'?

    More topically, I think there should be much more emphasis in education on discovering the individual aptitudes and passions of students, helping them to find out where they can make the best contribution.

  15. #45
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    Et Tea too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    But this is - or should be - completely irrelevant at the university level, and (ideally) even at A-level: no-one's made you study the subject ("given you the job"), you chose it yourself!
    If you don't like it, it's your own fault for not choosing better in the first place.
    What about those students choosing absolutely the correct subjects only to find themselves at the mercy of institutions run by jaded staff whose only interest is in ticking the boxes and maintaining their tenures? Not to mention then being surrounded by cynical students who have a similar level of disengagement with the subject and paradoxically end up more easily fulfilling the box-ticking learning objectives (and troubling the tutors less)?

    K-Punk has been very good on this stuff recently btw. Especially re. the nature of privilege and the way class structures maintain themselves in education.

    http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/009421.html
    http://k-punk.abstractdynamics.org/archives/009383.html

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