Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Ignorance is not bliss, it’s annoying and must be dealt with."

I'm not going to obsess about this blog forever, but I did find the above quote in this post from 26th February, which made me think. I'm really glad 'OldAndrew' likes teaching. He certainly writes very fluently, so it's a pleasure to read him even though I often find myself taking exception to some of the things he says! But from what I've gleaned from his writing I'd have preferred his teaching to much of what I did receive in school.

However... ;-)
"I do find that children have a particular fault: they don’t know very much. I have never met a child who couldn’t be improved by learning more. I get the most satisfaction out of my relationship with the children I teach when I cause them to learn. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s annoying and must be dealt with. That is the purpose of my work."
has spurred me into blogging him once more.

I don't know what subject he teaches, but I do know there will be some children in his classes who naturally love the subject, and some who have no interest in it whatsoever - as well as all the shades of grey in between those two extremes. Falling into the first category, no doubt, will be those who have a natural affinity for understanding it and the latter group will, no doubt, include some people for whom it will always be boring gobbledegook no matter how well it's taught.

This is the nature of the human race. Our strength lies in our diversity. Some people are brilliant mathematicians, others are natural writers, some are artists. Some of us are great athletes, musicians, or scientists. Some people are just good at teaching or preaching or parenting. For every person who exists in society, there is a job that needs doing which is a role for which they are precisely suited. This applies to all jobs - paid and unpaid, taught and untaught. And it applies to all people. And sometimes it might vary throughout their lives. But we need everyone, and we need all the positions filled.

So how can schools, governments, or anyone else decide what every child must learn? What if they get it wrong, and try to force an artist to learn too much maths, or a mathematician to do too much athletics training? What if that person needed to spend that time developing a different ability to the one they were timetabled to learn? What if that person's specialist subject doesn't appear on the timetable at all?

31 Comments:

Blogger Allie said...

I think that the basic idea underpinning the National Curriculum is that children are somehow 'in training' to be people. This means that their interests, strengths, passions, can be sidelined and sacrificed in the process of 'educating' them.

One of the things I've learned is that our children's particular passions are their driving force. It is the lack of that force - the lack of enthusiasm, engagement and interest - that teachers find so depressing. What is really sad is that I can remember teachers who had lost their own passion for their subject and just slogged on through the syllabus year in and year out.

9:36 am, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ooh, that makes me want to read some of the NC rationale Allie. I wonder if it's online and available?

"One of the things I've learned is that our children's particular passions are their driving force."
- same here and yes, that kind of teacher is amongst the worst. Very off-putting even for children with an aptitude in their subject.

It's aptitude we're talking about isn't it? The NC does not allow for teaching according to aptitude - except by accident.

11:03 am, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

It does seem to me that it might make an awful lot more sense if we, collectively, as a society, worked out precisely what the basic educational kit is, and which everyone requires to function in our society.

I think this comes down to being able to read and write competently and to be numerate. Not much more, anyway.

If we did that and then made it a requirement that all children demonstrably have those essential skills by the time they reach, say, twelve years old, we could then leave it up to them to decide what else they wanted to learn, and they would have the ability to explore the options available to them.

∴ if you get to twelve and can't do this stuff, you get a year's intensive compulsory education?

BTW, did you read about Chantelle and Jordan

11:29 am, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh yes. I see. From the Chantel post and comments, I shouldn't have been allowed to breed and children should definitely not be allowed to text their mothers from school.. much less want to be beauticians? I haven't looked at the other one yet.

Chantel doesn't want to be in his class, learning his subject. He doesn't want her to be there. So whose purpose is it serving for her to remain there? I can't see how anyone benefits at all.

12:27 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Is it all about the power struggle? Does society want everyone to go through the hierarchical power-struggle thing?

So if your parent didn't break your spirit when you were a baby, and you're still in possession of said spirit, it has to be fractured or removed from you by force when you're older.

'Cos we want a population full of fetlock-tugging, obedient robots, don't we?

I am trying to stay open-minded. Is it of benefit to force people to know their place?

12:30 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I have been telling Jax that we need to found a Fascist Liberal Party, as the only way to get people to think for themselves is to make it compulsory.

12:44 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

And yes, Jordan obviously has dyslexia or some other learning disorder. This is how Tom's life might well have developed if we hadn't deregistered: I saw it beginning when the school told me he was being disruptive in class.

This comment says it all, IMO. It's just a pity Jordan's mother doesn't know about home ed, or any other rights they have within the system. She obviously knows there's a problem though, as I did, though I see AndrewOld puts this down to his mother being a single parent.

Presumably a father would have just beaten him into silence?

No, that's not my opinion or my prejudice - it appears to be his though.

12:50 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"I have been telling Jax that we need to found a Fascist Liberal Party, as the only way to get people to think for themselves is to make it compulsory.."

ROFL! Tempting... tempting...!

12:51 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

ALL children have Special Educational Needs.axicl

12:57 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

Gill I think you're collecting some excellent evidence to shove under the nose of Adonis and Vallily (or whatever his name is) at DfES that actually school isn't the right place for most children to be educated.

ROFL @ Tim's facist liberal party.

1:04 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger dottyspots said...

What's wrong with being a beautician? If she's so interested in make-up (and associated gossiping) then it sounds like a potentially perfect job :0)

Although I would maintain that one would still need to be reasonably numerate, to ensure that one was getting a decent rate of pay (etc.) and literate (if nothing else to keep up with the latest edition of Heat magazine ;0)

PS. The above stereotype is meant in no way to offend or suggest that ALL beauticians gossip and read Heat (or any other similar magazine).

LOL at the idea of a Facist Liberal Party :)

1:49 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes! She'd learn enough numeracy to do her accounts and enough literacy to read Heat (!) and voluntarily if they let her study and/or work as a beautician. She could also presumably teach her numeracy and literacy teachers a few things about presentation skills also ;-)

Tech, I've got my head into NC rationale now, in between feeding cups of tea to visitors :-)

3:07 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger dottyspots said...

Well, I can't see beauticians not being in demand for the foreseeable future and last time I looked, hairdressers (in a similar vein) were on the trades in demand list for Australia - so a young hairdresser with a few years experience under their belt might well have a preferential fast-track should they want to broaden their geographical horizons - a potentially fantastic opportunity.

Anyway, both perfectly good trades, with scope for either working for others or for oneself (should one want to do so).

Although not something I'd be interested in doing myself, I've known people doing both who really enjoy their jobs (and quite frankly, that's more than many can say).

3:30 pm, April 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"Although not something I'd be interested in doing myself, I've known people doing both who really enjoy their jobs (and quite frankly, that's more than many can say)."

Yes, Chantel will probably end up wealthier and happier than the schoolteachers who currently hold her in such contempt!

3:43 pm, April 11, 2007  
Anonymous oldandrew said...

Thanks for the attention.

I keep my subject to myself. Suffice to say it's one that you would do well to study if you ever want to be employable - regardless of whether you enjoy it or not.

2:08 pm, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Hmmm... depends what kind of employment you want, I suppose.

2:22 pm, April 12, 2007  
Anonymous lucy B said...

"I keep my subject to myself. Suffice to say it's one that you would do well to study if you ever want to be employable - regardless of whether you enjoy it or not."

Errr ... I think I can quite honestly say that I seem to be perfectly employable *despite* having had almost all enjoyment of learning crushed out of me at school.

*Why* do so many teachers seem to think that they are the gatekeepers to a child's future employability, despite all the evidence surrounding them? It's really quite irritating.

Really hoping that this particular teacher has learned something by reading your blog, Gill. :-/

6:52 pm, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Well he's certainly had a good read, Lucy! So we can live in hope :-)

7:02 pm, April 12, 2007  
Anonymous oldandrew said...

"Hmmm... depends what kind of employment you want, I suppose."

I think you'll find your employability depends on what employers want not what you want.

9:53 pm, April 12, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oldandrew, you're not being serious? I'm 38 not 14. I've been an employer, in two of my own companies. I think I know a few things about what employers want - and it isn't GCSE Maths or English (outside the school system).

4:46 am, April 13, 2007  
Blogger dottyspots said...

I haven't got a GCSE in English. I like reading, which came as a bit of a shock to the teacher. I'd already read the books that were required, repeatedly, but was told, repeatedly, that I was lying. I read Animal Farm over 36 times )I stopped counting at 36), I'm not so ashamed to say that I kept the book as a memento.

I was banned to the library where I read books of quotations etc. and later on lost interest all together and just didn't go to school.

The police brought me back (I was a repeat runaway) just before my GCSEs (none of which I had revised for) and I passed all of them (minimum Cs with some As) despite being told that I would never amount to anything. English was coursework based, so I was never entered (as I could never have passed it having done next to no work).

Now, since then I have studied at higher level, having been accepted into Uni on interview. I also have an HNC and am currently studying a second. My lack of GCSE English has never been questioned, whether studying or working.

I think my writing could be better, my punctuation isn't great, but neither is that of many people so generally any mistakes aren't noticed.

I am not saying that the study of English isn't valuable, I think it is (and a very interesting subject too), but I had a severe clash of personalities with the teacher I had in the final two years of school (and since then a few of his colleagues have commented on *his* behaviour as opposed to mine as being bullying, etc.)

Being left to my own devices was actually a better means of 'causing [me] to have an efficient [etc] education'. My natural interest in the other subjects led me to pass the other GCSEs even though I had missed a large part of my final year.

9:07 am, April 13, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes I had a similar 14-16 attendance record Nikki. My teachers said I'd pass no O levels. Couldn't possibly pass, they said, because I hadn't attended enough lessons. Well - and this was in the glorious days before coursework - I spent a couple of weeks reading all the textbooks, sat 8 O levels and passed the lot at grade C and above - mostly As and Bs.

I've since run businesses, completed OU modules, and worked as an adult ed teacher amongst other things. I've never needed or used those O levels for anything, (certainly never needed to tell an employer or anyone else about them) so I'm very glad I didn't waste more time on them than I did.

I gather the current GCSEs have even less value, in the big wide real world.

9:15 am, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous lucy B said...

I went to school all the time I was supposed to - only ever bunking off the odd double maths by hiding in the toilets - seems very tame these days! I did just about well enough in just about all my subjects and just about (but not quite) escaped being bullied by other students and teachers, and was just about popular enough ... I had been to a great primary school (although the main incident that sticks out in my mind is being hit over the head with a hard backed book for whispering to my friend it was my birthday!). The only positive experience of UK secondary school I had was when we had a - young and presumably not yet institutionalised - supply teacher for English, who encouraged us to write stories. But despite the fact that I was a slightly above average student, with no obvious issues or big traumas, the whole school *culture*, and the disrespect which my teachers routinely showed me, all day and every day, and the stress of having to keep going, keep taking that, not answering back, etc. etc. etc. just about finished me off, physically and mentally. It was more than 10 years later that I recovered enough to go into higher education - doing an M.A with nothing apart from a handful of outdated O levels, on the strength of a portfolio of writing (thank you Mr Supply Teacher!) and an interview, like Dottyspots.

So I wasn't, on the face of it, a "Chantel" or a "Jordan" ... but the thoughtlessly disrespectful attitude toward young people that those posts - and some of those comments - imply is routine, damaged me irrevocably, and continues to damage me even now. Bah!

10:28 am, April 13, 2007  
Anonymous oldandrew said...

It's beginning to dawn on me that homeschoolers' blogs aren't a good place for a teacher to comment, even if the teacher in question is sympathetic to rescuing kids from our disastrous secondary education system.

Even statements of undeniable fact, like the fact that your learning will affect your employability, seem to be challenged by an avalanche of anecdote and people blaming their own life issues (and everyone else's) on their schooling.

11:31 am, April 14, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

"even if the teacher in question is sympathetic to rescuing kids from our disastrous secondary education system"

It felt, to me at least, that you are only keen on resucing kids who are not disruptive and who are keen to learn.

"Even statements of undeniable fact, like the fact that your learning will affect your employability"

And again, to me at least, you seemed to be stating that one's paper qualifications are what you think affects "employability", which, I think, many people generally (and not just people involved in home education) would question. "Learning" is a whole other matter, and many people think that school is not the best place to learn.

"... people blaming their own life issues (and everyone else's) on their schooling"

School is where the majority of young people spend the majority of their time. Childhood, quite often, sets the scene for the rest of a person's life. Like it or not, qualifications - or a lack of them - is not the only outcome of attending school.

11:52 am, April 14, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

Hi Oldandrew

"Even statements of undeniable fact, like the fact that your learning will affect your employability,"

Learning and qualifications are two different things. I just wanted to say tho that home-educated children can and do "get qualifications" if they need them. My HE son is doing a degree - and no he does not have a GCSE in anything. He has discovered his "learning" for his degree is in boxes of knowing things for exams and not true learning.

3:01 pm, April 14, 2007  
Anonymous oldandrew said...

Two posts in a row imagining that I said something about qualifications and telling me what can be achieved at home.

Perhaps you can tell me where I mentioned qualifications or where I doubted the effectivenees of home schooling?

10:46 pm, April 14, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ok, you might be an expert in your subject, oldandrew, with a natural skill in conveying the information, (I get the feeling from reading your blog that this is true in both cases. I also really admire your honesty and commitment to real teaching despite all the barriers preventing it in this mad school system we have.) but.. do you agree that compelling a person to learn precisely the aspect of your subject, (however useful it may be,) in the way you have to teach it, at the time scheduled, is not the optimum way for any child to learn?

Most of us home educators are finding that if we remove the compulsion, our children want to learn, and my teens might well have been glad to be able to consult someone like you, for explanations, inspiration or guidance when they were stuck with something they wanted to do or achieve.

Would that kind of teaching work on a bigger scale, do you think? And what do you think about the idea of removing the compulsion for children to learn on the grounds that it's counterproductive? (i.e. they want to do it anyway, until someone tells them they have to, which puts them off the whole idea.)

3:55 pm, April 15, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

Perhaps you can tell me where I mentioned qualifications or where I doubted the effectivenees of home schooling?


I never said you did. I was just giving it my own positive slant. Saying myself what can be achieved in the home.

8:07 pm, April 15, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

"Perhaps you can tell me where I mentioned qualifications ... "

I suppose, to me, your comment: "I keep my subject to myself. Suffice to say it's one that you would do well to study if you ever want to be employable - regardless of whether you enjoy it or not." ... led me to assume that you were talking about studying a specific 'subject', without necessarily being interested in it or enjoying it. This form of education is usually geared towards qualifications, isn't it?

But if you weren't talking about that kind qualification-led education, within a school environment, then that sounds interesting.

8:34 am, April 16, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the Chantel and Jordan stereotypes and I actually felt sorry for the teachers. Both for how mistreated they are and their inability to be able to identify the problem.

Teachers should not have to put with these kind of confrontations. They should be teaching children that would be actually interested in learning the subjects.

They should have the right to kick anyone out of their class that was disruptive. Is what happens for instance in adult courses and you don't even get your money back.

And of course children should have the right not to be forced in classes they do not want to be!

7:03 pm, April 16, 2007  

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