I won’t lie. February has been a challenging month. I always hesitate to use the word “stressful” because it is as much my responsibility as anyones to make sure that my job isn’t detrimental to my health!
Hence the recent failing in my 2017 resolution to maintain a blog. However, don’t look back, look forward, keep going (and all that). So hello again 2017 SBM.
This weeks spring Budget did nothing to reassure those of us at the sharp end of education funding, a subject that I promised I wouldn’t keep banging on about, and it got me thinking about sex, so I may as well explain.
Stay with me.
Here’s what I was thinking. The sex you enjoy when you’re 20, bears no resemblance to the sex you want when you’re 40 or the sex you want when you’re 60 (I’m guessing). In the same way that the exercise that gave you a fashionably fit body at 20 is not going to give you the same body (which would no longer be fashionable anyway) when you’re 40, ditto when you’re 60 (guessing again).
So why do we believe that the educational methods used in 1997 are still going to be effective in 2017 and are we actually still going to think they are ok in 2037? Remember, an NQT in 1997 (if they are hanging on in there) is still only in their mid 40’s today and possibly just getting into their leadership stride. True, they’ll be thinking about retirement in 2037, but they will still be teaching. I think we have a responsibility to make sure what is being delivered is fit for purpose in the same way that you need to prepare for good health throughout the stages of your life but not by resolutely sticking to the same methodology.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot has changed since I was at school and even since I’ve been an SBM but I look around me and I worry that a lot of it is still the same.
No one can deny that the current cohort of students has changed beyond the recognition of students 20 years ago but still, we give them a text book, sit them in front of a board in a class with 30 others, most of whom the only thing they have in common with is age, and try to occupy them for 190 days of the year.
Should we be looking at using the technology they are so adeptly embracing in every other area of their life, to teach them in a more interactive way about the world around them, to teach them resilience, creativity, independence, to teach them how to manage the inevitable challenges they will face in life, and, let’s be honest, how to have good (and safe) sex and exercise when they are 20, 40 and 60.
Perhaps, we need to look at the current funding challenge as an opportunity to chuck out the old ways, unshackle ourselves from the “smaller class is best” nonsense and all work together to innovate and modify our systems to offer students an education that is appropriate to now and their years at school, rather than how it was in our day?
It’s no good me writing this blog if I don’t suggest any answers. I don’t pretend to have them all but if we, as a nation, are not able or willing to cough up the funding levels of past times to educate our children, we’ll need to find some ‘out-there’ alternative solutions.
Firstly, would a shorter day be such a bad thing? Possibly only to parents who consider education akin to a day time baby sitting service while they continue to have a life. From an education point of view, I think not. The time at school could be spent learning social, team work and communication skills as well as subject focus, with the time spent away from school researching, reporting and learning to work independently. (Of course, those parents mentioned earlier would then have to pay for day care)
Educators could also focus on doing things that are much more fun with your mates (museums, castles, theatres, sports) and also those things that need a bit of health and safety thrown in (science, D&T).
Maybe my view is too simplistic, but maybe we need to go right back to basics and decide what our children really need to equip them for their life and stop trying to give them it all on a plate. We just can’t afford it anymore.