Finally the Government are asking questions about the purpose of education in England! This is one of the questions I’ve been asking ever since returning to the UK 6 years ago and inserting my children back to the educational system here.
In 1989, the UK ratified the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) where, amongst it’s many articles, can be found details of the right to education. In the UK all children do have the right to access an education as stated in article 28, but I believe the Government could be said to be in danger of ignoring the next article (29) which goes on to quantify what type of education a child is entitled to:
“The development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential” UNCRC article 29 1(a)
“Successive Education Ministers have steered schools away from providing a “child-friendly, inspiring and motivating [education for] the individual child” (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2001, p5) and instead have encouraged the “type of teaching that is focused primarily on accumulation of knowledge, prompting competition and leading to an excessive burden of work on children”, which according to the Committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child “may seriously hamper the harmonious development of the child to the fullest potential of his or her abilities and talents” (UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2001, p5).”
Now that the Government are asking “What the purpose of education for children of all ages in England should be” I would like to direct them to the work already done by the UN which clearly states why we educate children – helping them discover who they are and enabling them to be and do all that they can.
The moment we’re born, we are learning – to walk and talk, eat and sleep. We don’t learn this in isolation, but by learning from others. We observe, listen, copy, fail and try again until we get it right. As we grow we do the same, learning from others around us, those who know how, who do it everyday or are just having a go themselves.
Learning in isolation – shut away, behind closed doors (apart from a weekly foray into London for a lecture and the presentation of 3 essays) my first year of studying for a Masters in Social Justice and Education has found me isolated. How ironic then, that some of my theories about education and how it works best are grounded in an open system of schooling, one where children are not learning in isolation, but as an integral part of the community to which they belong!
So, why have I hidden myself away? Although not my initial intention, if I’m honest it’s probably because I’ve been afraid. Continue reading →
Schools are very practised at numbering children, but does that really help?
I’m about to go to my youngest child’s parents meeting. He’s in Year 6, so his teacher is going to tell me his ‘level’, compare it to the level all the other children in his year up and down the country will be expected to achieve and then talk to me about why it’s important he works harder before the SATs.
I have never visited a school that excelled academically, which didn’t also excel in extracurricular activities.” Gove 03/02/14
In his recent speech Gove revelled in statistics, sung the praises of government and commended teachers across the country. He also hinted towards his latest ideas for the future, for schools to “provide a more enriching day”. I’m not a Gove supporter, but I aim to find the positive, the beauty, in education, so listened intently to his talk, searching for a nugget. Nearing the end, Gove elaborated on his plans for an “enriching day” and shared how extra-curricular activities “help to build character and instil grit, to give children’s talents an opportunity to grow and to allow them to discover new talents they never knew they had.” At last, something I can agree with Mr. Gove about!
My desire is for all children to love going to school, to see its value and to grow in character as well as life-skills through going there. Sadly, this is not always the case. Is there an ideal school? My hunch is that there may be a variety of ideal schools that suit different children, but here are one Headmaster’s thoughts: Continue reading →
A few years ago, Hinchley Wood Secondary School began to use the RSA’s Opening Minds Curriculum to transform the way the children learnt in their school. Starting with telling all Year 7’s that they are smart, ‘Thinking Smart’ then explains that they are all different and therefore smart in different ways, and enables them to evaluate their own skills. How they are ‘Thinking Smart’.
In this way, the emphasis has been taken off the knowledge that they soak up, and put onto the ‘Thinking Smart’ skills they are practising. Continue reading →