Friday, 12 July 2013

"Richer, better at school" is what

the title of the article said. I read it in yesterday's state newspaper. The Senior Cat read it. I waited for him to mention it. I knew he would.
The Senior Cat was a headmaster, school principal if you like, in his working life. He continues to take an interest in education, schools, children, psychology, teaching methods, and the research which surrounds all these things.
He was not impressed by the research - or the fact that the research had been done. He believes in both "nature" and "nurture". You inherit genes from your parents but your environment also influences you. Why waste precious research funds stating the obvious?
The Senior Cat growled about this all through lunch yesterday. He has little time for the current moves to put a lot more money into education. That, he says, is not the answer. You need better quality students willing to become teachers and better training for them. Smaller class sizes do not necessarily make for better educational outcomes. He went on. I have heard it all before. I mostly agree with him.
He has been saying this regularly since the present government decided, on the strength of a report headed by a man who is not in the education sector, to put more money into schools. I will not say "spend money" because that seems to at least hint at some consideration at the way in which the money will be used. There are, we are told, many millions going to be lavished on schools. It will, we are told, solve many problems.
It won't of course.
The Senior Cat would like to see much of the money spent on getting and retaining better teachers. He would like to see some sort of career path for them. Instead we currently have the situation where teachers are now on short-term contracts from one year to the next. How can you plan a career around such a scenario?
He thinks even the Whirlwind gets too much material not prepared by her teachers - although her school has very little compared with the local state high school students in the same year. I know he has never really come to terms with the way that modern technology has allowed many teachers to do far less preparation than they once did. Remember those lesson plans we once had to do starting with "Aims" and "Materials" and moving on to "Methodology" and "Outcomes"? (I probably have that wrong. It is a long time ago.) Apparently you no longer do it that way.
And then there is the problem with libraries. The Senior Cat simply cannot understand the idea that there are now schools which do not have libraries. He cannot understand the idea that there are schools where the students have all their resources on a screen, that they never open a book.
How, he asks can you learn, if you never open a book? Oh yes, he understands the concept of the e-book but he says e-books are still not the same as a physical book.
He even wonders if poorer families who cannot afford the latest technology might actually be richer because their children might have access to a "real" book, a physical book.
It's an interesting idea.
I just think it is a shame we are not spending at least some of all those millions on physical books. That would make everyone richer.


jeanfromcornwall said...

Real Books Forever! How can you happen upon something rivetting that catches your eye as you flick through an e-book? That's the worthwhile way to lose half an hour: not with something on a screen.

catdownunder said...

I am glad someone else feels that way Jean. And trying to use a reference book is hopeless when you work the way I work!

cathyc said...

Unfortunately I think the opposite is slowly becoming true. Real books will be a sign of wealth and status. One of the things that fits in with the destruction of the idea of the book is everdecreasing living space. I think that is particularly evident to me now as I live in Europe where people live in tiny areas. It is normal for a unit like this: husband and wife both with professional jobs and two children living in an area of 50-60m.

The more I see of it, the more I think of its opposite, the Australian Dream.