We are hearing all the time about the changes in secondary age education in the uk. There have been many changes with local education authorities being swept away with their school responsibilities replaced by government funded academies and free schools. Teaching schemes and new style methods of learning were intended to free up the beaurocracies that stifled so much of the education system – apparently preventing the free thinking and learning that is needed. What is more of a problem is the very limited curiculum that only teaches children to complete exams to a very high level, but completely misses out everything that isn’t on this very rigid proscriptive method. For a youngster to get a fully rounded education in all subjects and to enter university fully equipped for a career focused degree course, they can help themselves with online courses and more robust teaching of the missing elements.
I always find it quite a challenge to learn a new skill or task without having it demonstrated clearly, preferably by another human being, or very often these days, on video. Some folk find learning and all educational schemes in book form to be perfectly easy to follow and enjoy – the more academic amongst us I feel. I’m not sure if my seriously left handed bias, causing a lifelong lack of co-ordination and balance could have something to do with a constant struggle to get the gist when trying to read instructions and carry out the required or desired activity. For me then, the advent of e-learning and other means of online educational facilities would have been an absolute boon when I was at school – it’s too late for me to take any of the fantastic choice of career focused online courses but for younger colleagues – life is for grabbing and e-education gets you there quicker.
I’ve been happily taking interest in my neighbour’s son who seems to be a complete whizz-kid where computer games is concerned. He knows all the titles – of the ones appropriate for his age group, of course. He was born into the computer world – nothing seems odd or diffiuclt for him to attempt. In fact, he is absolutely fearless and will have a go at any game scenario etc. This is very good because it opens his eyes to all kinds of opportunities of learning in other ways. He is definitely not one for hours of copying out lesson plans, comprehensive ‘work schedules’ for each subject. He can literally log on, look at the game and know instinctively how to operate those hand gizmos and get stuck into the game without a seconds thought. To help him achieve greater academic stability, his parents have invested in several online tutoring courses so he is comfortable with all aspects of the national testing programme for his age group.
When you get to a certain age, there is a tendency to panic at the thought of anything more challenging than learning to play scrabble or sudoko it seems. I go to healthy walking group regularly and the rest of our group is mixed but mostly over 60s – it being a weekday. I have made it a point to engage lots of the walkers in general conversation regarding their past careers, and what made them do this and that. They don’t seem to mind. I am fascinated by how each person has reached any particular pinnacle of success and how they did so. What is obvious is so many miss the discipline of going to work and the training courses they may have attended in latter years. Many of my pals have taken up a real variety of training opportunities with U3A for example – and the world is very much their oyster.
There is such a lot of talk these days about the need for further education, going to university seems to be the be all and end all of the upper school education system. Sometimes there are good reasons why not to take up a university place – maybe an apprenticeship opportunity comes along – that offers first class on the job training and a small paypacket. After the 5 or 7 years, the candidate becomes a proud and fully trained motor mechanic, plumber or other vital trade.
As with all of life’s conundrums, careful thought has to be given to the benefits that might come from a specific career focused degree course. For example, nursing – at one time a student nurse did training in the nursing school, then weeks on the ward and then back to the school for finals. They were paid as working student nurses. All these career based courses rely on continual top up training, usually online to keep development going.
My mother belongs to the biggest womens’ group you can imagine. It’s well known throughout this country and probably the world and if it’s good enough for our monarch and her mother, then it’s certainly good enough for us. There are so many different facets to this huge federation. Mum has met an incredible range of folk and the speakers that come to entertain and hopefully educate the groups have been in the main, absolutely fascinating and interesting. There have been one or two who could brush up on their delivery style, but generally the speakers are only paid a tiny amount for their expenses and are not really in the ‘after dinner speaker’ class.
The federation also facilitates learning – in a very big way. They have every subject available and a ready made college for the purpose, although it’s a bit of a luxury to be residential – but probably suited to a queen!
Knowing how to learn is one of the skills in life that doesn’t necessarily come easily. I recall when at school, I would respond best to the teacher out front who was amusing, spoke nicely and understood my dry sense of humour. These things mattered for my self confidence. Others in my cohort were perfectly happy just copying everything down from the board and not questionning anything teacher said or did. Whether their learning came more easily is hard to say, but I needed more than dreary lessons.
I came alive when commercial subjects were available – I had to give up science to do typing and shorthand, but my parents figured these would stand any student in good stead throughout a lifetime of work, whereas sciences had a fairly limited appeal for normal life. The ability to type brought great advances to me, it taught me how to appreciate all future training courses, online particularly.
One of the most useful things I learned in training courses over many years as a government worker was to get on with the task as soon as the email instruction arrived. I was always in bother at school with homework for procrastination to the point that it was always done on the bus on the way to school – never a good idea. This directly affected my chances of getting useable exam results and it took me a few years at real work to appreciate my methodology was rubbish.
So thereafter I have always taken training of any sort quite seriously. Be it a first aid sampler, a customer service refresher, mandatory anti-fraud training. I have read the instructions, read the purpose of the course and each element of each topic. Once the point of the exercise is known, getting down to the learning is a doddle. And often very rewarding.
A guiding hand when it comes to choosing careers, or just getting to grips with catching up on lost learning opportunities, that would be very helpful to just about everybody. There are so many courses out there and it can be a bewildering exercise sifting through to find the exact combination of course material, helpful presentation and company expertise in helping you use your newly gained skills to raise your game.
Knowing how best you sutdy also helps. Some folk do like the sitting down with text book, note pad, endless sticky page markers etc. and they laboriously listen and note everything down. This usually stores the relevant info in correct parts of their brain. Whereas I much prefer the demonstration approach – the handbook for me is just another printed object – bring on the demonstrator to describe and show me how to do it, what happens if we don’t do it that way and how best to achieve my goals.
Knowing your whys from your wherefors can be one of those phrases that ancient relative toss at you when you’re desperately trying to extricate yourself from a pile of undone homework and are making rather a poor show of it! There’s nothing more important in a child’s life than education – to parents and grandparents, this means the dull stuff that sometimes gets overlooked at school. Some children absolutely love history and never have difficulty imagining themselves back in a particular period of time – Arthur and his Round Table is a good one for the lads. The more romantic side of the Victorian era can often be the catalyst for lasses to get involved in the subject.
English language and literature were two of my absolute favourite subjects – the latter of course expanded on my growing appreciation of the former. Using these skills in later life to understand everything in current affairs, necessary work instructions etc. can all form part of the whys and the wherefors.