Updated: Nov 3, 2019
As readers of my old blog will know, a little while ago I did a post all on the failures of the education system from a pupil's perspective. I think that post is particularly powerful in letting adults know what a pupil (me) thinks is wrong with the education system. At some point in the future I will definitely be doing other posts in this series, where I ask current pupils what is wrong with the education system (at the time I had been out of education for several months so could only base it on my own experience) and also ask their parents what they think needs to be done to improve the education system. If you would be interested in taking part in either of those posts, then please either DM me on Twitter or Instagram, however this probably will not be until early next year.
But enough about past/future posts. Today's post is all about things that are wrong with the education system from people who work in education. I asked around on Twitter and Instagram if anyone who works in education would be interested in helping me out on this blog post and had a few people respond. I was originally planning on this post being for professional's based in the UK, however I had a few people who were interested who are not from the UK, so I decided to include them as I am guessing no education system in the world is perfect and they should all have the same core values, so thought it would be very interesting to see how other education systems differ to the UK's and find out what needs to be done to improve the education of children from all over the world.
I asked them all the same five questions, so let's get into them:
Q1. What is your role within education?
- English II teacher, who started out teaching Freshmen (English I) and this is the second year with sophomores.
- Primary teacher.
- Primary teacher who has also supported training teachers and has been a lead teacher for ICT, the arts (dance, drama, music, art), English, sports, and has helped to establish links between a Maori immersion unit within a school and the mainstream (English) classes.
Q2. What one part of the education system do you think needs changing and why?
- We focus too much on meeting the requirements of a standardised test and so miss out on the student's best qualities and strengths. If we allowed them to have more time in exploring their interests and helped them navigate through these then we could be much more successful. Most schools mention "college and career readiness" and I feel we really need to analyse what this means and set students on the path to success by bringing in more things like speakers or different career fields, college visits, classes that are career specific, resume writing, typing, etc. earlier on. We live in a very fast paced and digital world and schools need to accommodate that. For example, my students can operate a cellphone no problem but have no idea how to use a chrome book in the sense of typing, emailing, etc.
- We need to change the exceptional pressure now put on kids to do fantastic, not just for exams such as SATs, but all year round. Although having high expectations can be beneficial for long-term understanding, kids lose the chance to sometimes just be kids without worry or pressure to constantly please.
- I think the amount of pressure that is put on students and teachers needs to change. Students have a lot of testing to do, and standards to meet. For teachers, there is a lot of paperwork to do - a lot of marking (using many different coloured highlighters and pens), testing to mark, tracking sheets - in multiple places, as well as the meetings. In New Zealand, a lot of schools do not have specialist teachers for music or PE, however, the school I worked at most recently (a private school) had specialist teachers, so that really saved me a lot of time and I was able to get a lot of work done in my release/PPA time. More 'fun' time. There is so much pressure to teach English, maths and science, that a lot of other topics can be forgotten about. The arts are such important parts of education. It really teaches you how to connect with your emotions, and gets you to have fun and express yourself.
Q3. Is there anything about the system you would not change? If so, what is it?
- I would not change the core subjects. I do believe in teaching maths, science, English... those are core things that really do spill over into everyday life... some people use them more/less than others but regardless, those subjects are at the core of everything else.
- the creativity - in New Zealand our curriculum is very open, in that we can plan and create lessons that are fun, exciting and not just ticking boxes.
Q4. Why do you think there are so many faults in the system?
- I think the faults come down to mindset as we have always done school this way so why change it. I think a lot of people still feel that way. It is very difficult to have change happen if not everyone is on board. There are a lot of teachers and administrators that have the mindset of everything is going "okay" so why alter it? I also think it is down to funding as so much of what we need in education, smaller class sizes, more specialised teachers, technology, and such all depend on money.
- The government ministers change or 'update' the curriculum on what they want instead of using a continuous liaison with current and former educational practitioners.
- I think that the standardisation of education has not helped. I feel like that has made a lot of learning put on the back seat (especially if it is not English, maths or science). The arts are such an important subject area and I think that more time should be spent on them. They can be used to encourage children to write or just use their imagination, which is something that I feel is being lost, particularly with more technology usage within schools. Another reason why I think there are faults in the educational system is because those making the policies have not had experience in education recently. It is funny how a lot of those who are making the policies have not even taught, yet are telling teachers how they need to do their job!
Q5. If you could add anything into what we teach our children, what would it be and why?
- If I was going to add something, I would add more focus on developing their self confidence. So many kids (in my experience) get put down so much that they truly believe that they cannot and I think again, if we allowed exploration of their interests and placed importance on those things we would reach a lot more kids... you can teach and support self confidence and I think that is really important.
- I would spend time teaching kids other knowledge - practical knowledge - to be used in the real world instead of focusing completely on core subjects.
- I would add more empathy! I see a lot of children coming through my classroom who have not been taught the importance of empathy, or putting yourself in other people's shoes. I do a lot of work at the start of each year where we do little skits and scenarios of what kindness looks like etc.
I think each person's responses to all five questions were very interesting as when I sent them these questions I was expecting them to be relatively the same, particularly with questions two, three and four. However, their answers kind of surprised me and have certainly allowed me to get into the mindset of what it is like to work in education (something I am hoping to do someday). I definitely think the government needs to see what teachers want to have in the curriculum as teachers are some of the people who know what is best for the children they teach and I think may be more important than some of the things currently on the curriculum.
I would just like to say a massive thank you to those who have taken part in this post as you have all been a massive help in allowing me, and those who read this, to get into the mindset of what it is like to be working in education and the things that do/do not need to be changed. Some of them have asked me to link their socials/blogs, which I have done at the bottom of this post so please go and check them out and give them a follow as they have been an amazing help to me and this post really would not be possible if it was not for them.
Love Beth xx