It’s been quite a while since I’ve was a student in a high school, but what I remember was pretty mixed. Twenty children in a class, some classes were great while others were tedious. I always loved the classes with the teachers who pushed the boundaries of what I knew.
Their will always be different qualities of teachers (and students), that’s just life, but something massive has changed in education in the last few decades.
Firstly teaching is really about teaching the skills of learning. When you teach someone how to learn they can learn everything.
But the trend is now to teach to a test, this is very different! When you decide that a test is the measure of success you are turning schools into factories and are not dealing with the idea that every child is unique. And once you forget uniqueness you stop motivating anyone.
Then when you assume that every child is the same you effectively drag the quality for everyone down. Not all children are the same, some have aptitudes in analytical skills while others are artistic and many have specific weaknesses and strengths that need to be supported.
When you ignore individuality you force low performance.
Now if you remove special support for kids (special schools) and place all children in the same class you exacerbate the issue.
More recently, to lower costs, the amount of classes has been reduced, growing class sizes to 30 or even 40 kids, in rooms designed for 20, forcing children to share their personal space, forcing a lack of attention.
So lets summarize what government has done.
1. Implemented mandatory continual testing to specific tests that drive teachers and students to a factory approach to learning.
2. Assumed all kids are the same, and taken away the schools ability to help kids individually.
3. Increased class sizes while not providing enough room or support to deal with these larger classes.
4. Oh and taken away the ability for schools to provide reasonable discipline (kids have rights you know)
Why has government done this? Well it seems there is a move to privatize public schools (In the US they call these for-profit schools, charter schools). So if you break the public schools then you can make money out of it.
But to do this you need to completely destroy the school system. If public schools work, then you have no reason to change to a “for profit” system.
Today there are more people “supporting” the teachers, than teachers. So called Network services that provide “bureaucratic” assistance to schools, ensuring that the myriad of rules are followed, however inappropriate or overreaching the rules can be even with incredibly limited budgets and the specific talents of the schools and the children. How can that be best for the children? And of course it’s very expensive.
Teachers are not well paid. As an example, in New York, a public school teacher needs to have a Masters degree to get a public school teaching license. I suspect teaching is the lowest paid Masters profession anywhere in the US.
Of course private school teachers do not need to have a masters degree, so they will be cheaper. But is a less expert teacher the right way to teach children?
Here’s an idea that I heard from a teacher recently.
How about we teach children the skills they need to succeed at college, university or work. And then measure the success of a school by how well these students perform once they enter either higher education or the workforce.
It would be very easy to measure and an effective way of measuring the success of students and the schools.
Of course this doesn’t drive the school system to be privatized.
But it is doing the right thing for children, their families and the whole of society.
But who wants that….