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What exactly are the advantages of a 'broad' secondary education?

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by Louella, Feb 17, 2011.

  1. As someone who had a natural aptitude for languages and who struggled to get to grips with science subjects, I was educated at a time when it was still possible at the end of 2nd year to 'drop' subjects which held little interest for me and concentrate and expand upon those at which I excelled . The end result was a sizeable cluch of Highers (excellent grades) which enabled me to go on to study at university and embark upon my lifelong teaching career. (the old O Grade arithmetic has been sufficient to work out my pay, tax and weekly shopping bill - still nothing left at the end of the month)
    If I had been forced to continue with a range of subjects which did little to enthuse and for which I had little aptitude or interest, my qualifications would doubtless have been less impressive and my morale and enthusiasm for life long learning would definitely have suffered.
    In short, my ability to be a successful learner, confident individual and effective contributor wouldn't have got off the ground!
    Why force pupils to struggle along with subjects which hold little interest for them when they could be making better use of their time broadening their knowledge and skills in areas they are interested in and are going to experience success with?
    Surely 5 A passes is better than 2 A passes and 3 C's/fails?
    Or am I missing the point?
     
  2. As someone who had a natural aptitude for languages and who struggled to get to grips with science subjects, I was educated at a time when it was still possible at the end of 2nd year to 'drop' subjects which held little interest for me and concentrate and expand upon those at which I excelled . The end result was a sizeable cluch of Highers (excellent grades) which enabled me to go on to study at university and embark upon my lifelong teaching career. (the old O Grade arithmetic has been sufficient to work out my pay, tax and weekly shopping bill - still nothing left at the end of the month)
    If I had been forced to continue with a range of subjects which did little to enthuse and for which I had little aptitude or interest, my qualifications would doubtless have been less impressive and my morale and enthusiasm for life long learning would definitely have suffered.
    In short, my ability to be a successful learner, confident individual and effective contributor wouldn't have got off the ground!
    Why force pupils to struggle along with subjects which hold little interest for them when they could be making better use of their time broadening their knowledge and skills in areas they are interested in and are going to experience success with?
    Surely 5 A passes is better than 2 A passes and 3 C's/fails?
    Or am I missing the point?
     
  3. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter


    Breadth of study and of access has been the tradional strength of Scottish education, not merely secondary education.
    Scottish local authorities were among the first in the UK to abandon the 11 plus (aka the "Quali" in Scotland) and to introduce comprehensive secondary schools which catered for all pupils. This recognised the simple fact that 11 ish was far too young to pigeon hole children as "non academic / vocational". International reports have generally praised this aspect of our education system. Systems like ours which operate on broad access (eg Finland, Norway,most of the Canuck systems) tend to be more successful.
    Broad subject choice after 14yo is basically an extension of this. It's better to defer specialisation because kids mature at different rates and it's wrong to force them down a particular route too early.
    As seen recently on this board, Scotland has also been praised internationally for Science and Math's participation rates in middle and senior secondary. Surely it's a given that any modern state needs to educate it's young people to the optimum level in these subjects? ( I speak as a History teacher btw!) Even if our pupils do not go on to study Math's and science subjects at uni, they need to have an awareness of the importance of these areas of life?
    And vice versa. I certainly don't want medics or scientists to be educated as merely "technicians". They need to have an understanding of the social implications and obligations of their future professions. This is not really possible darn sarf where a science or medical graduate typically studies 3 A levels, all science, over 2 years. Up here, some of my most able Higher students have been future technologists, GPs etc. And it;s not really about good departmental results: because they're bright kids, they can appreciate some of the moral dilemmas which have confronted people in the past and they can see how they might have to make similar difficult decisions in their own futures!
    Pity about your use of the CfE "successful citizens etc etc". Not the least reason why I despise CfE is because these trite phrases don't do justice to the quality of the system they aspire to replace. The CfE so called "broad general education" has been in place in Scotland since the 60s at least. CfE endangers that by reducing pupil choice in the middle secondary years. But that's another argument.
     
  4. I was educated in Scotland in the late 60's early 70's and I was very relieved to have the opportunity to drop maths and science infavour of history, latin and another foreign language.
    By the way the Cfe reference was tongue in cheek.
    I do question the worth of a system which in support of breadth of education insists that S1 pupils study two foreign languages when some of them are barely lierate in their mother tongue.
    Science? Well the only thing that sticks in my mind after the two year physics course was how to wire a plug correctly and that was when the electrical wiring was black red and green!
     
  5. Where do they do this?
     
  6. catmother

    catmother Lead commenter

    Indeed,where? Most secondary schools I know consider themselves lucky if they still have one compulsory language from S1 and if there's no opt out of languages until S4.
     
  7. morrisseyritual

    morrisseyritual New commenter

    Might we foresee secondaries begin to ape Primary teaching? One "Renaissance man/woman" teacher taking thirty students through national certificates?
     

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