Will we ever get education right?

04 Sep

Education has been back in the news, mainly due to the issues with some exam results in England. There was a change in the marking between prelims and actuals and it caught a lot of people out. Not ideal really. At least re-sits are on offer quickly.

The educational plots have been lost all over the place and maybe, between the political interference and the entire curriculum juggling the education system doesn’t do what it should say on the tin. Education used to be simple as I have said before. It used to be “don’t go near that because it will eat you, don’t eat that because it will kill you and don’t go wandering off because you’ll get lost and you’ll die.

The difference between years gone bye and now is that there was little choice of job or basic survival then and the choice now is enormous. How do you educate children to meet every potential job that’s out there? You can’t. So what are we teaching our children? Generalities until university or college and them more specialist stuff? Maybe some of it but certainly not all of it.

Education is subject to supply and demand. There is a demand need, which relates to the right number of students leaving with the right qualifications to meet that demand. You see this most when a new development changes the market place. I saw it happen with computing when it went from huge computing machines in big business and universities down to mini mainframes and PCs being used everywhere. There were always shortages of one skill or another which educators addressed only to find by the time that they had churned out people with the previously desired knowledge and skills there were no longer a shortage but there were other skills in short supply. Isn’t that the way of it?

There is no link between workplace skill requirement and under-graduate and graduate numbers. It’s just a free for all. Study what you like, become what you want to be. If you are lucky you will achieve that but the odds are stacked against you. You always need to throw more resources at something to ensure you gain the benefit you want. Just enough or too few and you won’t gain the total benefit and sometimes too little is giant gap. Some of your resource or students will fall by the wayside so you have to counter that by getting more students on the courses to start with.

Education is a free choice based on jumping through hoops. The hoops are generally exams and the hoops get smaller and higher depending on the entrance criteria. But not everyone wants to be a surgeon or an engineer or an accountant/lawyer/journalist or even a teacher. Some people want to do art or music or drama and why not? We have a diverse population which means we have a diversity of chosen work activities.

The student population is huge now. It’s an industry in itself. There are the big name universities, the known universities and now we have the colleges which have become universities, colleges which are still colleges and various specialist education establishments. All vying for the right students who will get the qualifications, which they are aiming for and complete the courses. The completion is important for the education establishments, they need students to complete 25% of the course so they can get paid, usually by the government, for churning the students out.

Quality is an issue and so is the cost of gaining an education. It might not seem like its expensive when a student loan is buffering the day of reckoning but it will have to be paid off at some point. The whole system is skewed unfortunately.

The big question has to be  – what basic universal knowledge does our society need students/pupils/learners to have?

I’m going to try to raise some debating points over the next few weeks just to try to get a handle on the big question but also to consider how education might look if it was tackled in differing ways.

If you feel that you have an opinion let me know and if you want to author a piece or joint author then please let me know.


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One response to “Will we ever get education right?

  1. Rob Skinner

    September 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Wise words.


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