How do we teach children?

I know nothing of this but do know that with myself learning has been lifelong. I also do know I’m not impressed with the writhings of the Educationalists, points that still today bug me:-

  • a most terrible choice of set book at thirteen, fourteen and fifteen at our rural Secondary
  • science and history and RE teachers of the either lazy in the former or most uninspiring of the latter
  • a headmaster blind to a childs mental health when he in fact considered himself to be exceptional
  • luckily i’m old enough not to experience the elimination of woodwork and metalwork – excellent for developing hand eye co-ordination and minds eye planning, helps one become ‘a practical man’.
  • sport! … I utterly hated it in all its forms, never knew the point of it, weekly humiliation.
  • music … again badly taught, no explanation of the value of it all, its composition, structure or beauty.

Hearing on the radio (UK bbc r4 morning till 0900) an hour ago how a billion has been secured as funding to help minimise the lag in pupils equates we are told as fifty quid per pupil and is intended as extra tuition. Its this ‘extra tuition’ that sticks in my mind, theres tricks and ways of doing things that I imagine are not being applied. We also heard that kids are having trouble holding a pen or pencil, that their writing is abysmal and that throughout lockdown they never picked up a pen nor formed any writing … surprise surprise. The interviewer was relentlessy aggressive toward I think it was the Education Secretary but hold on …. how many schoolkids in Britain? Ans= 7.25 million which patently undermines the aggressive numbers of the interviewer Nick Robinson! Just goes to show that in life a little reticence is most useful.

7.25 million x£50 per pupil = 362 million …. ha ha ha nowhere near a billion!! Nick Robinson you owe one heck of an apology to that poor man you roasted, in fact needlessly roasted this morning; looks like they get just over £150 each not £50. Apparently one point something billion.

Hint:- when going on air always have a quick list of numbers already worked out, don’t let them have you freeze in the stress of the moment, its called prep.

I occasionally encounter numbers and am a great believer in limiting everything to three significant figures, a sliderule also is invaluable, unlike a calculator it can reveal in real time in front of your eyes and deal with variables, thats before of course the latest graph crunching wonders, which bring with them needless complexity. So the quick mental realisation of what is in the above is seven fives, add a bit, increase by ten (ie 7×50) and call it millions. Or call it seven hundred and half it.

The real point of this post is how I would have children learn, some tricks. Also not enough importance is placed on the development of language, many kids have the burden and handicap of low attainment parents that often themselves have very poor language development. A richness of language hand in hand goes with the ability to visualise, for form views, questions, to enquire, to express, to evaluate text, to see form and style. I finished with a girlfriend a while back, super figure, tiny brain, any utterance or glint of viewpoint from her never led to her forming a question of why it had to be that way or any chance of wondering at remedy or improvement. Nothing followed on, just hung in the air. To her credit she liked to hear me talk, it often seemed so very one sided and its fair to say she will have forgotten most of what I said.

So, as Education Secretary and of course being a big team player, we would do exactly as I say viz :-

  • a series of graded readers or number books in small format low page count, to be carried at all possible times age five to eleven. These could be changed at say each term but must be completed to the back page, would include word lists.
  • an emphasis in pen and paper … NOT screens.
  • dictation
  • comprehension
  • spelling
  • importance placed on legibility, layout and neatness but not to a stultifying extent, speed, sketching skills.
  • add a little competitiveness, post a results table of marks obtained, after all the sports field can be crippling in its hierachy, yet no-one objects in that instance.
  • encourage self made crib notes on recycled card packaging (a real boon) handy for the pocket!
  • for a minutes interval in each lesson depart from the rigid linear chasing of the curriculum, the bane of creative and fun teaching in the UK I think, quickly display something that is ahead of them an object, a graph a chart but not incomprehensible, be sure to use a couple of buzzwords, it will encourage those interested of the gems that lie ahead.
  • in state schools (UK 7.3 million pupils) introduce mention of the origin of words, latin or germanic roots, this surely is interesting, again it is language development. I’m not sure the development of mathematical ability for the average pupil particularly matters after age fourteen but language, reading and comprehension etc is vital, is lifelong.
  • encourage parent tutoring with worksheets, they must become involved.

I’ve always found leafing through a more advanced text to be very useful, words, pictures, diagrams stick in ones mind and spur one on to do better. Sadly bizarrely on the news this week mention was made of a huge new ‘impressive’ Municipal Library built I think in Birmingham, nice idea but library usage has definitely shrunk, you’ll never get them back.

A comic aside, each outgoing President has a Library built and dedicated, maybe housing some valuable collection or focus of study, in trumps case it would be a small disused toilet block, quick whitewash and a small table with one solitary mobile phone on speed dial to a hooker …. The Presidential Library of trump.

E&OE copyright exercised. climate-change-briefing.com 2021

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