Educational musings

08 Feb

Over the past few weeks I’ve been laying out radical changes, which may benefit the education system within Scotland. I’ve worked closely with education establishments on a number of projects although I’m no teacher.

In Scotland we took great pride in being able to boast that we hade the best education system in the world. What we didn’t mention was that our reign as best in the world was a long, long time ago. Our education system still worked pretty well until the late sixties when the basic structure of the system was altered in an attempt to create a more level playing field for our children.

It’s patently obvious that this system hasn’t worked and the longer it has been in place the worse things have got. How do we know the education system isn’t working? Because the system is aimed almost entirely at having our young people achieve a degree whilst at the same time the quality of the degrees available have been greatly diluted.

In order to address this, significant and far-reaching change is necessary. This is required so that our young people have a real opportunity to achieve their full potential. This immediately flags up a significant problem; since all of your young people are individuals with differing strengths and weaknesses could we ever develop a flexible enough education system, which would provide the learning, experience and support on an individual basis?

The easy answer is of course NO. Then this is qualified by saying it would be far too expensive, the additional resources required would require substantial budget increases, which are just not affordable. I would argue that we cannot afford not to give every one of our young people the best possible opportunity to be the best they can be. As a country we need this, as a country we have successfully achieved this albeit on a much smaller scale and a long time ago.

The first ten points I’ve identified are as follows –

  1. EVERY pupil/student should achieve their full potential;
  2. EVERY student teacher should achieve their full potential;
  3. There is NO PLACE for politicisation within education;
  4. There is NO PLACE for religion in any area of education;
  5. REDUCE the size and influence of local education department to the lowest possible level required to support schools.
  6. EVERY pupil should be treated as an individual and not be subject to a dress code.
  7. Successful methodologies and best practice should be adopted in order to provide the BEST learning experience possible for pupils/students.
  8. The pupil/student RATIO should be around 6:1.
  9. Teacher advancement would be measured solely on pupil/student ACHIEVEMENT.
  10. Schools should EXPLOIT the greater school community to provide a rich content learning experience for pupils/students.

Essentially the system would need to be developed on the basis that every learner would receive the encouragement and support they required in a manner tailored to their needs. The learner becomes a partner within the educational system. They have needs and wants which require guidance and support which builds on their strengths and helps them be aware of their weaknesses.

This can’t be done in a class of 40 or a class of 20 for that matter. Whilst various strategies have ben tried and tested to stream learners by age and ability the basic flaws have not been addressed. The flaw of course is that each time leaners are streamed they are placed into one of three sub-groups: the top 5-10%, the middle 80-90% and the bottom 5-10%. Their position within these streaming may alter depending on subject or peer group although it is unlikely that they will dramatically vary their over all group. If they do then it’s likely that a much higher position in a subject stream exposes a potential talent whilst a much lower position in a subject exposes a lack of suitability for that subject.

The central aim is to have every learner achieve his or her full potential within a system, which encourages and delivers the correct environment for this to take place.

This can only be achieved if teachers are also supported and encouraged to achieve their full potential as a teacher. The management structures within schools would then have to alter with teachers being the most important element within each school. This would almost certainly reduce the role of the Head Teacher who would no longer be directing the activities and structural delivery of the teaching. Head Teachers would teach and work directly with all teaching staff to enable “every learner achieve their full potential”.

The structure of teaching career paths would have to alter significantly too. Good teachers would not be promoted out of teaching they would be promoted to increased teaching not just of learners but of student and lesser experienced teachers. In such a system teachers would be able to gain more money and status within the school based solely on their ability as teachers.

Administrators would be there to support teachers to maximise teaching time. Perhaps they would be student teachers learning not just how to teach but also on what is required to allow good quality teaching to take place.

I’ll return to this subject again and again over the next few weeks.


Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Education, Politics


Tags: , , , , ,

2 responses to “Educational musings

  1. David Hill

    February 29, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Good article.

    But it depends ultimately to a nation if higher intelligence or higher innovation thinking is the driving force of Humanity.

    There is a great misconception in the minds of many business and education Gurus, through lack of understanding what innovation really is, that innovation is somehow linked to higher intelligence. This misdemeanour is thrown at all and sundry. Unfortunately intelligence in itself does not lead to major global breakthroughs as the history of S&T shows. Indeed some people may be highly intelligent in solving problems but can never come up with an idea that revolutionises the future. For solving existing problems is not the same as creating a totally new concept or idea. This thinking comes from people who in the main were not excellent scholastic students but were different in their thinking and had the ability to link things together to produce something new and really outstanding.

    What we have not learnt in the West yet is that it is not the so-called highly intelligent people that we have to find but the creative individuals who are the primary asset in creating the successful tools of the future, whether they be better education systems or revolutionary technologies. The two are very different indeed. That is why the World Innovation Foundation has been saying for the past decade and a half to western governments that the West has to create the ORE-STEM complex so that these special individuals can have a place to flourish and work. In this respect it is estimated that there are between 500,000 and 1million of these ‘special’ average-intelligent people in the West who have the capacity to change ‘Our’ economic fortunes.

    But, no-one is listening and especially in western governments where the intelligent people reign there supreme also. The reason of course is because these people are perceived as being highly intelligent also, but where they lack the main ingredient to why a country will be economically dynamic in the future; that little known seed in the certain individuals that transforms nations through totally new revolutionary thinking. Not to bore people but Newton and Einstein are clear examples of poor to medium quality scholastic students. In fact in the case of Newton his contemporaries stated at the time that nothing would ever come of Newton after he lost his ‘grouts’ and was awarded the lowest BA degree at Cambridge. No, it is those illusive individuals that we have to concentrate on in finding within our western society, who are not seen as highly intelligent people, but engage and provide vast wealth through their innovative thinking, not highly intelligent thinking. The two are totally different animals. For this is the ‘golden’ secret of creating a future dynamic environment for the West and where through such thinking, the West would recapture its pre-eminence in wealth creation.

    Unfortunately western politicians have lost their way because they are possibly too intelligent and therefore we look in part at the decline that we now see. For an example here, bankers are supposed to be one of the most intelligent species within humanity and where they usually come with the highest degrees passes possible and top-of-the-class honours from such establishments as Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Cambridge and Oxford et al. Therefore the question has to be asked, how did they and their highly intelligent government counterparts get is so horribly wrong globally and locally? The reason is that intelligence does not guarantee for a better world and where the opposite has been the case with the West reeling from trillions of accumulated debt that the people in the west now owe.

    We have therefore to stop concentrating on the misconception that high intelligence is the best driver of humanity but where others have the real answers to our dire problems. Therefore the sooner we get such vast concepts as the ORE-STEM under way, the sooner the West will stop the inevitable decline of our nations and its people. For in another 30>40 years if we do not start thinking differently, the West will be totally reeling from a state of our economic affairs which will mirror many of the dire problems associated with some of the emerging economies now. This future situation to counter-balance the economic forces building in the East will not emerge from high intelligence as history has shown us, but from special and unique individuals who are not seen as highly intelligent at all. But what they possess is of far, far more important that just mere high intelligence, for they hold the golden key of our economic redemption!

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

    • Tedious Tantrums

      March 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

      Thanks you very much for your comment.

      The current drive to ensure the vast majority of the population have a degree misses the point. We all know that quality rather than quantity is the most appealing. The educators and politicians seem to have also shot themselves in the foot with this strategy. The more people who have degrees the less value degrees have as a means of recognising employability.

      Education is the key but not in it’s present form.

      I’ve been far too busy with work to continue blogging over the past few weeks. I intend to start again in the next week or so and education will be one of the key areas for blogging. I’m also hoping to publish a pamphlet on education sooner rather than later.

      Thanks you again for your very interesting and useful comment.


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