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The Decline of English Education (Warning LONG rant!)

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Buttles, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Buttles

    Buttles New commenter

    What a load of Canadian gibberish.
    I disagree with your comment "the GSCE is a great idea".
    If you had come to England before 1988 you would have been exposed to the O Level which was was far more rigorous than the GCSE and is still used today in countries such as India where academic standards have been maintained.
    I disagree with your emphasis on league tables as the source of the rot in British schools.
    The rot set in during the late 1960s when child centred theories of learning began to erode the traditional 'chalk and talk' approach to teaching children. It explains why even today in English primary schools the kids sit in circles chatting and squabbling rather than at individual desks as they had done before.
    I also feel you have missed the lack of aspiration which came to dominate the English working class by the 1980s where an 'underclass' of social and economic illiterates came to think of themselves as entitled to be 'paid' welfare checks and the ruling elite began to opt out of the state sector in favour of paying for health, education and even security thereby immunising themselves from the catastrophic decline in social, moral and educational mores.
    You rightly critique, however, the con trick of micro-managing schools to give the gullible English public the impression of rising standards through ever easier to pass exams.
  2. momentofclarity

    momentofclarity New commenter

    I get the impression you are either a very well informed educational historian, or possibly just in the profession too long, remembering an idealized time when the role of education in the UK was simpler - or from the teachers perspective clearer.

    Your point about O levels only reinforces my argument of dumbing down the system to ensure good results are achieved. I said GCSE's are good, but should have qualified that with "in theory". In practice many of the courses and structures are simply ways for schools to ensure maximum A-C results. The government allows these new changes in order to have the evidence to support their policies.

    The yearning to return to a system of single student desk "chalk and talk" completely ignores the fundamental changes in not only society, but also to the job market we are preparing students for. It is not a factory and industry society, particularly in England, the old positions and roles no longer exist. But on the other hand fighting for education to return to a time like that is at least fighting for something - I am curious, how well do your single rows go over in lessons and observations?
  3. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Never mind the education system, the whole bloody country is broken. The trouble is most UK residents suffer from a combination of boiled frog syndrome and a blinkered view that life couldn't possibly be better in many other countries.

    "Land of hope and glory" - I think not. The glory faded a long time ago, and the hope is that of a drowning man clutching at a rapidly decomposing straw.
  4. momentofclarity

    momentofclarity New commenter

    Wow...and I was convinced I was jaded and bitter. I tip my hat to you Mr. Getling.
  5. Getling is an optimistic ray of light!
    Despite being in the sun for twenty years, a dark, dense cloud of doom still hangs above my head. The sunshine dream might come to an end one day and then what...?
    My other half pointed out that she saw some of the children back at the local schools; my stomach turned at the thought of going in there, chair and whip in hands. Rapier wit, a liking of children and a self awarded 'Bloody super, fantastic teacher status' still doesn't whet my appetite to guide the UK yoof of today.
    And here's an admission, I am not a small bloke, 1/2 inch thick skull, 1.8m and well over 100kgs, but I don't walk home from the pub anymore. In many parts of the UK, the mob rules.
    And Opinion is full of teachers that know all this...that's why they're nuts!

  6. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Dear momentofclarity,
    I agree completely that league tables are the root cause of many of the woes affecting English education. Its all a statistical con trick perpetuated by successive governments of either outlook. But schools have no choice but to participate. OFSTED is a joke. The tick-list approach to lesson observation makes it very easy to justify classifying a lesson as "poor", they just point to the unticked box. I left it all behind too.
  7. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Pretty much agree with much of your post MOC and also agree that one of the causes of this is the bloody league tables. So, what do you reckon the idiots who are in charge of the public system here in Aus are doing? Following down the same path. I often feel like weeping when I see the state of the public system today. Teaching to tests, no flexibility or seizing the moment, no real teaching going on as we just need to get them to do the page in the book so we can tick it off in the programme. An obessive compulsion with text types to the exclusion of any creative writing.
    Won't be too long until we are languishing down the bottom of the tables with England.
  8. Oh dear, this is so depressing to read.
    If you all believe this then why do you all say to people who ask if it's a good idea to go straight into international teaching after qualifying, something along the lines of 'You really need to get a couple of years experience first'? If everything is as bad as you say it is then shouldn't your advice be more like 'Run, run whilst you can'?
    Unfortunately there does seem to be some hints of the bad habits creeping into international teaching such as the tick-box mentality (already mentioned) and the compulsion for those in management to use the current educational buzz-words (without truly understanding the meanings and/or consequences). Though this is of course only my rather biased opinion.
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Robby, you will notice that I DO say run asap.

    Foney, Unfortunately, I'm serious about the state of the whole country, rather than just taking a swing at the education system. And here's why.

    My career wasn't initially in teaching, and so I used to travel in and out of London each day. In those days the 35 hour week was normal, and if you started an hour or so early, and finished correspondingly early, or the other way round, you had a comfortable journey. Now 40 hours (and the rest) seems to be common for many people, and never mind the rush hour, it's more a case of the rush 4-hours, and not a prayer of avoiding it. OK, I'm talking about London, but I'm guessing other large UK cities would tell a similar tale. And what do we get for all this? Your average Joe used to have a half decent chance of buying his own place. Now, many struggle just to pay the rent on a dingy room. And, as if this wasn't enough, think of the levels of crime in the UK - there isn't enough space to lock the b@stards up.

    The Germans have a nice word, gemutlichkeit - a feeling of comfort, which I imagine, like myself, most people living in Germany have. And I imagine the same could be said for many other countries. But compare this to the angst, which pervades the UK. Have I got enough money to pay the bills? Is my job secure? Am I going to be mugged, burgled?

    There are many other issues, such as health care, which I could also mention. This is the face of Britain today. A country that even as little as thirty years ago was still a fairly desirable place to live, a country one could be proud of - but no more. So, run Forest, run!
  10. Buttles

    Buttles New commenter

    When I arrived in Australia last year, a Scots couple who had emigrated to Australia in the 1960s warned me that standards in Australian schools had never been as good as those in Scotland. They are right. Teaching in Australia today has given me a glimpse ofthe disastrous educational experiments which charecterised the West in the 1960s and 1970: open plan classrooms, kids sitting in circles, unreformed curriculum and so on.
  11. Will you marry me?
  12. erm...not sure which one of us you're asking to marry you...so just in case, on behalf of FP and David...Yes! Yes a million times yes!
  13. 'Unfortunately there does seem to be some hints of the bad habits creeping into international teaching such as the tick-box mentality (already mentioned) and the compulsion for those in management to use the current educational buzz-words (without truly understanding the meanings and/or consequences). Though this is of course only my rather biased opinion...'
    Actually, it's more likely to be your perfectly valid observation. OF COURSE the rubbish that characterizes 'Western' educational systems is seeping into the international scene; educational imperialism is alive and well and operating through 'educational' consortia exporting so-called 'accreditation' via business entities disguised as 'consultancies', and other trade delegations selling their commodified wares. Not only that, but many of those in charge of educational planning and development on the international scene, have studied in the West, and have been brainwashed with the kind of stuff that's wrecked educational systems in the West. It's sad, but that's what we have to call 'development' these days; pretty soon all those 'motivated' kids will be mouthing off at their teachers like they see their counterparts on Western television. Wonderful vision of the future of global education. Where will we runners go then, I wonder?
  14. Although I agree with many of the points made in the first message (especially about league tables and lack of flexibility within the teaching curriculum), I also disagree with some....

    GCSE and A-Levels: Both great qualifications which enhance your subject knowledge and really focus in on the subject content. A-Levels are really good for someone who knows what they will be studying during university, however what about the student who is unsure? They would need more time to decide and maybe more subjects to study - the A-levels works ok as you can start with 5 and drop one or two as you go along, unless you are still unsure! Maybe for this type of student the IB would be better suited?

    Focus on subject not "wider affairs": Fair claim here and again, maybe the IB would work better. But who can really afford to implement the IB? I dont think you can blame the GCSE or A-Level as all schools must have PSHE (or whatever it is called nowadays!) but teachers are normally not qualified to teach this, as a result the lessons become useless! Schools must have tutor time (again this fails for similar reasons), RE (which I believe is vital but due to student perception could fail). So maybe we should be focussing in on particular subjects rather than blaming the whole curriculum setup for discussion on "wider affairs"?

    Exam results: Grade boundaries MUST be adjusted numerically to ensure each exam year is tested in a similar manner. Let me explain in a nutshell.... Exams are not always the same difficulty from one year to the next and the students that graduate are not too... however, it is better statistically to adjust the boundaries based on the assumption that from a large sample you gain a distribution (im guessing it will be the normal distribution) and from that you have a certain percentage that should get an A, a certain percentage B and C etc etc.... In fact, if you think of it this way, the grade boundaries are not actually changing.... the number maybe, but the percentages not really......

    Finally, I do agree that many kids as well as adults feel England is the be all, and end all of everything. We need to make them more global and internationally-minded in this aspect. I am not a big fan of IB before someone states that :) I also dont think it is all doom and gloom for education in england but i wont go into that one!

    Great discussion though! thanks for bringing it up....

    PS Ironically, currently on a course in USA with many americans and canadians PRAISING the british educational system and criticising their own!
  15. Again, this was formatted but didnt come out correctly! SORRY
  16. Hi Guys,
    Interesting discussion you have got going here. However it is also tainted by a truck load of synnicism. To start off to use the London as a benchmark of living standards in England is pretty rediculous (and I am a Londoner).
    I not so long ago emigrated to Australia for the very same reasons that have been mentioned above, such as high crime, property prices and general standard of living. However on my return to England I moved to Devon and you would not believe the different quality of living.
    I share some of your fears about the education system but beilieve that most of its issues come to down to funding and the over politicisation of the system and successive governments ignoring expert advice and instead driving educational reforms from a very political perspective.
    Just my two pence worth.

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