I come from the northeast of England and went to school there until 1985.
Many readers of this blog will have gone to school elsewhere, and will be much younger than I am. I’m 52 at the time of writing.
I’ve developed a lot since I left school, so has institutional education, and so has my former high school, which on its website says:
“[The school] provides an outstanding education for its students. It seeks to help students develop into confident, sensitive and reflective adults, and it is successful in this aim.
“Ethos and Strategic Objectives
Our aim is to develop:
Happy, self-confident, life-long learners
Learners ready to embrace change
Learners who make a positive difference to the local and global community.”
Optional subjects for assessment available now, that weren’t available to me, include philosophy and ethics, robotics, dance, drama, jewellery, food and catering, health and social care, business studies, child development, design tech with paper and boards, ICT, film studies and photography, systems and control, economics and media studies.
Alongside teachers, the school also employs support staff, some of whom are former students. The teachers, staff and students all talk about the wonderful atmosphere and the school is rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, the government department responsible for inspecting educational institutions.
It now has a music recording studio, a drama studio, its own television station and takes part in Mock Bar Trials, the sixth form team having won the national final.
This all sounds wonderful. It sounds like a great place to go. I wish it had been like that when I joined in 1980. I would have happily replaced my chosen subjects of physics, chemistry, history, AST, Latin and computer science with philosophy and ethics, robotics, drama, business studies and media studies – in fact, I may even have been spoilt for choice.
Who knows, I may have been so keen I would have wanted to do more than the bare minimum and stay longer after school and work on projects.
I had no desire for my education, and it provided me with very few useful tools. While it all seems so much better now, is there any really any need to attend school, other than to collect badges and certificates?
In the post-knowledge, internet age, anything can be learned anywhere. Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall experiment, School in the Cloud, and Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) strive to achieve just that, by simply asking a question, and letting learning happen.
Until schools become environments where people can work together in teams, across age ranges, on multi-discipline projects, ideally with some international understanding, communication, cooperation and cultural appreciation, they will lag far behind the high-octane, technology-driven real world.
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