Sunday, 31 August 2014

What happened to our school system?

Gone are the days when school was about play, and fun, hands on learning that you were so excited to share with your parents. With a teacher who was given the responsibility to choose the way they taught their students, set the pace and the schedule that matched the ability of the students of that time. With the trust and flexibility to extend that learning from home by being able to complete assessment tasks at home, with help or guidance from your parents, enhancing your learning through their knowledge or lack there of as you researched it together.

Now we don't see this community of learning, we see a rushed schedule of work that has a due date, and if the children don't get it, if they need more time.......well it is time we don't give them.

They need time, time to learn, try different things, work out what works and what doesn't.
Too many children aren't being given enough time, even our youngest students have less time for play based learning in favour of more activities, desks and structured activities......but why?

How is a child supposed to get it if they don't have enough time to have a go, to make a mistake and try again, to go back to the same activity you have been working on all week and finally succeed.

How are we teaching them, nurturing them to trust themselves, try new things and be able to succeed even if it takes awhile.

I have never seen so many children at such a young age, so stressed, so down upon themselves, about their achievement as it is measured on paper through narrow minded tests, like Naplan, or through passing multiple assessments in PRIMARY school. When did it become more important to run practise tests than real life learning, and by taking away that learning time, how are we expecting them to learn. By assessing part of a child how are we teaching them the value of their contribution to the world? Are they simply a score on a piece of paper?

The answer should be NO !! Each child, each person, has something unique to offer this world, to offer the people around them. They should not be scored on how well they comprehend a piece of text, but how they see the story, and how they would change the outcome, how they could make it better, whether they could enhance it through art, dance or song or by rewriting the story altogether.

And although, teachers across the country should all teach the same thing to children of the same ages, what narrow minded person decided that our teachers needed to be given the structure and schedule to teach by. Why not trust them to take their own path, guided by the children entrusted to them, to learn and teach as they see fit, the way they see fit, the way that matches the children in their care to reach the best possible outcome for his or her students. Why does it matter what path they follow as long as they reach the destination.

How does it make sense that a school should receive funding based on how well they are doing? When did our children's learning become seen as a financial investment, if they do well, throw more money in, if they don't perform, cut your losses.

Good old common sense would think that children who are struggling to understand the learning may need additional help and funding to think outside the box and take that different path, that money spent on helping all children to succeed would later be repaid through the contributions made by those persons to the community, that instead of falling through the cracks.

This is just my view on the system and I encourage you to leave yours. This in no way attacks the teaching community as I applaud teachers and their dedication. My wish is to see them have more flexibility in their role in delivering the curriculum and for all schools to be open to trying new ways to engage the children who struggle with learning. I would love to see nation wide testing such as Naplan abolished and that time given for revision and extended learning outside conforms of the classroom.

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