What kids need …

… and how we can educate them formed the basis of this mornings 0900 BST prog on bbc r4.

BBC Sounds – Rethink, Rethink Education, Is the current exam system fit for purpose?

Amol Rajan did an as usual excellent job as MC and the sage words of Kenneth Baker were the highpoint. The other contributors seemed not able to place rigour or logic upon much of what they said. Sometimes they descended to nonsense, not realising their silliness, throughout all this Amol was a beacon of equanimity.

As usual anything ‘rote’ was ridiculed as un-necessary but how else can we get a body of knowledge into ones noggin, but also a term neglected was of ‘understanding‘ … it is understanding that should be the result of an education, whether it be a day or a decade. Equally derided these last forty year has been a practical hands-on education ie working with materials and to improve skill, Kenneth Baker particularly realising the importance of practical work for the majority of non-academic working class kids. I went to Technical College the first of any of my bloodline and it suited me fine as day release for five years, it was sufficient.

In the bbc r4 prog today why was it that ‘English’ was lauded as such a good thing to age seventeen, at that point I would assume most kids would find it excruciating. Book-learning suits the academically adept but for the ordinary an education needs tweaked to include manual skills and hand-eye co-ordination, practical dexterity and problem solving combined with knowledge acquisition. It may be old fashioned ie ‘the dovetail joint’ but it lays the foundation, the bedrock for more exalted slick and technical activities.

Again, realise with the web kids know less than ever.

Are the Educationalists to blame for all the endless and ultimately pointless ‘re-jigging’ of curriculum?

We have a system here in the UK where the old style wood and metal practical work has been discarded. I personally feel this is outrageous and does a dis-service to those pupils with any inclination to this activity. I remember at our north country Secondary School circa 1969-74 anything ‘sports field’ or gym was lauded with so much kudos, yet my own excellence (and speed) at wood, metal and tech drawing brought near zero standing. How come I never got to shout at anyone that couldn’t do the task or got it wrong? Goodness enough times as freezing cold out of doors this was the only time anyone noticed me, to ridicule. Yet I was master of my craft when indoors and using my hands. But also the practical trades are also about problem solving, building a body of knowledge, of ‘learning’ and each time aiming to do better, to be neater, less flawed. Apart from throwing a clay pot probably the only opportunity to develop minds eye co-ordination, of visualisation. Educationalists have seemed adamant in the last forty years to diminish and throw to the wind such fine attributes. And we wonder why the UK struggles to be a first league manufacturer!

Lets face the truth, for past the age of fourteen is there anything touched upon at school that was of any use to them whatsoever, I mean for ordinary folk? Nope!

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