There has been much talk recently of education reform. Clearly there are many areas in dire need of it, but what needs to be done? What kind of education system do we want? Most importantly what is the role of the education system?
Is it's function to produce productive economic units? Should the education system be formed to serve the needs of the economy, with subjects that will give the best economic return emphasized?
Should the education system have a wider remit, to develop well rounded citizens, with time being spent on developing their cognative, social, cultural creative and dare I say it even spiritual aspects? Or is it ideally a mixture of both?
The education system needs reform, but reform into what?
At primary level, the amount of time spent on teaching Irish and religion needs to be reduced with a greater emphasis on science and generic language skills focussing on modern European languages. A move back towards the teaching of basic maths and English literacy skills is also needed - if necessary more focus on tables and grammar.
At second-level, in contrast, a move away from rote learning is required. The requirement to study Irish and English to Junior and Leaving Cert should be dropped - only one of the two languages should be mandated. This would leave it open for someone to take say, Irish, Spanish and French at Leaving Cert but not English. Setting of the exam and correcting of the exam should be taken away from teachers and the exams should become more generalised and random as the current situation leads to the teaching to the exam. I am slightly wary of continuous assessment unless proper quality assurance can be brought in. Teaching of religion at second level should be stopped.
The reduction in the amount of time spent on Irish and religion is probably the most crucial change needed in our education system.
Personally education for me is all about developing the person, if along the way this brings economic benefits for the individual or the state, all well and good, but this is not for me the primary purpose of education.
The education system should be reformed with a view to developing a capacity for rational tought, cultural education should have a significant(but not dominant) place in education, learning of languages and an introduction to various art forms would have a role in developing the students sense of their own and other cultures as well as aiding in cognative development and helping to foster creativity.
I also believe that the three R's sould keep their position of priority as they are vital in the development of the students capacity to interact with the education process and in the development of logical tought processes.
Also the student at some point should be taught how to learn, they should be taken through the actual processes that have been shown to aid learning, it is rediculus that even though we know how much of a difference the approch to learning taken by a student makes, we never actually sit the student down and explain it to them, instead just hoping that they will stumble on it themselves.
One of the main reforms needed in my opinion would be to reform how the student is assessed, what is needed is a system that encourages actual learning. The shallow rote learning of tracts of information needed to gain points in an exam that will quickly be disgarded once the exam is over is a pointless excersise that has little value to the student.
At primary level, I'd echo Godge's suggestion for less time being spent on Irish and Religion with more time being spent on basic maths and literacy in general. Religion shouldn't be taught during class time at all, it can be done after school by a priest for those children whose parents would like it. An earlier introduction of modern foreign languages in a structured way could be helpful too, I think. Other than that, I'm not too familiar with the primary system so can't really comment on it in depth.
At secondary level, the whole rote-learning issue needs to be dealt with. Rote learning is necessary to a certain extent in subjects, but exam questions should focus more on the application and adaptation of that knowledge. Exams shouldn't be predictable in the sense that you can rote-learn off tonnes of information and just splurge it out on the day for marks, questions should require the student to understand the material and to apply the information they've learned.
CSPE should be reformed to include religion and become an actual subject that people take seriously, with an exam that doesn't consist of turning up on the day and writing down whatever comes to mind and getting a B. I think it's one of the subjects where continuous assessment could be helpful, if it's done right. It should be mandatory for JC, along with English and Maths. Only English and Maths should be mandatory throughout both JC and LC, but I kind of like the idea of students having to do one of either English or Irish as their language.
Better supports for students at both ends of the spectrum need to be introduced, both for those who struggle academically and those who excel and find the material on the courses too easy. For those who struggle, the cuts in SNAs are unacceptable and extra classes should be available, although I'm not too familiar with this area so other people probably have a better perspective. At the moment, there's nothing really in place for the majority of students who find school material too easy, which is a terrible waste. The CTYI programme should be taken over by the State and expanded to allow any student who meets the requirements to attend, not just the small minority of students who can afford it, know about it or are lucky enough to get one of the few scholarships provided for it.
The problem with unfit teachers needs to be dealt with badly. Principals should be given the power to fire teachers who are underperforming. Teacher's hours should encompass parent-teacher meetings after school, at times that suit parents. School year should be extended to be in line with European levels, it's unnecessarily long at the moment, even from the perspective of students.
At university level, fees realistically need to be introduced (in a proper fashion, they're already here) and an increase in university funding should follow. A loan system similar to that of the UKs would be ideal. Expansion of programmes like HEAR and TAP to facilitate those from disadvantaged backgrounds entering university, combined with an increase in grants and supports. A shadowing system for 6th year students would also be very helpful on a universal basis – I've engaged in these with students through college programmes and they've found them very helpful for deciding courses and have given them food for thought...they would help students in 6th years make far more informed and realistic decisions.
Apologies for such a long post...
Whats the point of education? The "role" of education is to better the lives of people, and further the development of humankind. Ever hear of the "building blocks of learning"? 40,000 years ago, 2 sets of pre-historic humans existed. One knew how to make fire, and actively educated their children in this skill, the other didnt. Those who didnt are the now extinct Neanderthal branch of our ancestry. We can now converse in complex language, fly people to the moon, conduct brain surgery, all thanks to the layers of knowledge passed on from one generation to the next, as far back as human history goes.
And even better, we have a system in place nowadays to fast-track the education of children to the level of knowledge that we humans are currently at - school. Obviously it cant cover everything, but it gives kids the tools to use their intelligence to learn things on their own. Imagine the discoveries out there yet to be made, the breakthroughs that will make everyday life easier. Look at the conveniences you have now compared to 20 years ago! Internet, mobile phones, GPS's, flat-screen TV's, MRI scanners, nano-fibres, keyhole surgery, DNA data, to name but a few! None of these things would have been possible without people having an education! The building blocks of learning is where its at!
Thats nice, though I think you should know that the point of the thread is not a for or against discussion on education, but on what type of education system we want, with emphsis on what the values at the core of it should be.
Thanks very much. I think you better change the thread title so!
It's ment to be eye catching, and it is what the thread is about, what is the point of education, what is it for, developing the individual or to benefit the economy.
It seems to me, OP, that you're setting up a false dichotomy here. Why make a choice between "developing the individual" and "benefitting the economy"? Surely rounded, developed individuals benefit the economy?
Since its inception, the Irish state has used its public schools to inculcate a de Valerean nationalistic and religious agenda. The objective has been to create citizens who are Irish-speaking, patriotic, and God-fearing, if not necessarily well educated (in 2000, the World Bank reported that 23 percent of the Irish adult population was functionally illiterate).
The biases in the curriculum are easy to see. According to the OECD report Education at a Glance 2011, Irish 9 to 11-year-olds spend 10 percent of their total compulsory instruction time on religion, the second-highest figure in the OECD, after Israel. The same students spend just 4 percent of their time studying science. Ireland is also the only EU member state that does not make a foreign language compulsory at any level of education, transparently so that most if not all language education resources can be devoted to compulsory Irish. Meanwhile, maths standards have slipped to the point where PISA 2009 ranked Ireland 26th out of 34 OECD countries for maths ability. Just one student in six now takes higher-level maths for the Leaving Cert.
The basis of the school curriculum should be teaching English, maths, science, and foreign languages to very high standards, those being the skills that translate into good jobs, entrepreneurship, productivity, and international integration, as well as (yes) cultural development and personal fulfillment.
Without commenting on the curricular issues, I have to agree with this.
I think at the end of the day, the core value system of an educational system should be to equip all citizens with the capacity to achieve both their professional and life goals. This would mean more options for specialization, whether that is vocational training, languages, maths, etc for older students, more options for lifetime learning for adults so they can 'skill up' in their chosen field or switch over to new fields. This allows individuals to develop into what they want to be or advance within their given fields, and this has positive spillover effects for the economy. Conversely, training people in a way that fits into the modern economy can help prevent some of the wrenching social and economic problems that come from unemployability and/or restructuring. So I don't think you can separate these issues: they are two sides of the same coin.
Chomsky's take on the point of education.
TL;DW. Eduacation's principle role is to train people to be compliant and obedient.
Chuck Stone, can you please summarize for us what's in the video or what Chomsky's main point is? Not everyone can watch them from where they are posting.
Ain't that the truth?
Have a look at a thread here on primary school hdip mock exam questions:
Total nonsense. If you want your child to be taught religion, do it in your own time, it's your choice and your responsibility
That was not my intention, No doubt Well rounded Individuals will benefit the Economy, but at its base level, are the students educated to make them well rouded individules or for the benefit of the economy? Should the Education system be formed to serve the economy or should it have a wider role than that?
Should things that have little direct value to the economy but that can have a positive impact in the development of the student, music for example be tought?
Do we judge the value of what we teach by its economic return or by its value in developing the student?
Really? Seems an odd thing for a Cumann na nGaedheal government that had just fought a Civil War against DeV to do.