…and the education system in general.
So as I am nearing the end of my penultimate year of school, I have more than a few opinions on how the education system affects children and young people in both positive and negative ways.
DISCLAIMER: This will be based on my experience in the UK. Also, I have only ever been at two schools (one primary, one secondary) so this will reflect that.
So without further ado; opinions.
- Standardised Testing
While I understand that standardised testing is an efficient way of comparing everyone in the country, it is only truly helpful in subjects where definitive answers exist, such as maths and science. It becomes ineffective when applied to subjects such as English, music and drama in which success is almost entirely subjective.
I do, however, believe that my secondary school prepared us well for exams. Every year we had a set of exams in an exam hall as well as mocks from year 10 and up under the same conditions. This was very helpful in ensuring we were as calm as possible during GCSEs.
- Compulsory Subjects
The arguments for and against maths, English and science being compulsory at GCSE has been made a million times over. I personally agree that they should be optional from GCSE level but only if some changes are made to the curriculum. Essential knowledge (finances, letter writing, biological sex ed etc.) should be taught starting from year 5 or 6 so that children are well equipped and also able to focus more on what they want to do. I also think that they should be allowed more optional subjects to run alongside these changes.
Is the education system taking our childhoods too early? From the ages of 6 and 7 children take SATs tests in maths and English and while this is officially broken down into smaller tasks (since 2004) many teachers still use formal papers to assess their children.
I personally think this is an unnecessary test and the statistics for which SATs are used could be taken from the standard classwork already partially controlled by the National Curriculum.
Most primary school teachers have their own reward system for the classroom. When I was in year 1, my teacher gave out Tigger badges (a laminated cut out of the Winnie the Pooh character with a safety-pin on the back). Now I was a bit of a goodie-two-shoes growing up. However, my parents and I noticed that, while I never got a badge, the “naughty children” were frequently rewarded after doing a single good thing. This theme continued throughout primary for both me and my sister. I promise the sob-story has a point.
I realise that teachers were trying to encourage good behaviour but by not rewarding the children who were always good I feel like they missed the point of rewards a bit. Later, when I was in year 5, a new, better system was introduced where you would get a sticker at the end of each week unless you did something wrong.
Thank you for reading. Be sure to leave any thoughts in the comments as I would love to have further conversation on this topic. I have left some relevant links below as well as all my social media. Most regular updates will be on Twitter.
I am planning to write more on education, specifically on how the arts are treated, bullying within schools and the quality of sex ed. Let me know if you want to weigh in on these topics as I am happy to collaborate.