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Education, Youth, and How It Affects the World  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I'm going to start this discussion by saying nothing.


Tyler's Channel



German Education System

What is your public education system like?

How does your public education system function?

Did you enjoy your education?

Could it have been better?

I mention the German education system because it appears to be a good model of how productive citizens and life-long-learners can be made.

Are there other systems out there that engage and work with their students?
 
pollinator
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Location: Galicia, Spain
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We are going to put pressure on two of our good friends who run biology depts in UK and Spain and get them to bring field trips here at a very good price to infect young minds whilst they study. Also a group of army cadets who can come and forage, plant, eat local, use the bread oven and solar oven. Not World domination, Paul Wheaton, but a little underground movement...
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Drainage......
 
Posts: 64
Location: Ontario, climate zone 3a
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I grew up in the age of environmental science education at a time when David Suzuki had gained media attention, and was very lucky to have lots of field trips in that capacity to places like protected wetlands, with naturalists who were passionate about their work.  They got a kick out of me naming plants as we went, me being used to listening to my father and grandmother discuss the common and scientific names of every living thing we came across during many childhood hikes in the forest, and him teaching me on camping trips and walks around our home.  If I could say there was a favourite part of school for me, and days that stand out the most, field trips would have been it.  We visited science centers, wetlands, historic houses where they taught traditional crafts and explained "old" technologies, a traditional Iroquois village, walked to the top of the biggest local hill and looked at the land for geography class to understand it's formation by glacial movement, raised trout in the greenhouse in environmental science class... these hands-on experiences are the ones I remember more than reading any text book.  And very little else from my education prepared me for the lifestyle I actually desire.

To digress for a minute, I suppose my family must be where my true interest in the world began, rather than at school.  My dad did things like build an electromagnetic cannon that shot nails across the basement with a battery.  He also cut up my pet chicken when I was 5 or six and showed me how tendons work to move your limbs, which was somewhat more upsetting but no less educational.  I was always the first to put up my hand and name the rocks a teacher held up, or explain why the sound of a train changed when it passed.  My mother read to me daily from a very early age, so I had a decent vocabulary and creative writing ability in primary school, which is one of the things that led to the other kids calling me "Dictionary".  I would take my dad's anatomy and psychology books and my uncle's VHS tapes, my grandfather's golden guides on the weather, and my grandmother's books on birds; read the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, and 1984 before leaving primary school.  My parents sang harmony together while my dad played guitar; some of my earliest memories are of them singing Everly Brothers songs beside a camp fire while I fell asleep.  So I was always interested in music class.  

Returning to the main point, my family's early guidance left me very open to the public education I would receive along the same vein, and may be what was lacking in the lives of other kids who seemed to not care about any of this, or simply let them be educated by cable TV (which we didn't have).  At the same time I really struggled terribly with mathematical concepts, and wanted nothing to do with gym class (competition and projectiles) or French (mandatory in Ontario).  Part of the issue with public education is that with large class sizes and an expectation that all kids should learn varying subjects at the same pace, as well as a "pass or fail" mentality for each grade, there is no room or time for individual ability or interest.  It's the proverbial sausage factory concept meant to churn out a standardized, ground and packed product.  Industrialization begins at age 4 in this country, if not earlier for parents who are not able financially to stay at home until their children are school age.  There is great pressure on teachers to "pass" kids so that they don't have to repeat the whole year just because they struggle in one area, but no effort to get them up to speed.  So you either "FAIL", or pass a kid on and on until they get to high school and are functionally illiterate because no one wanted to deal with it.

Another difficulty is that the social dynamics on the playground and home are completely ignored, and they bleed into the classroom.  Teachers either don't notice bullying, or let it slide because it's easier to ignore it than actually help kids who are struggling, or do anything that might involve a bully's parents and the school principal.  The home dynamic is beyond their control, so unless the kid is routinely showing up filthy and covered in bruises they won't ask anyone why Anna is falling asleep in class every day at 8 years old.  There are simply too many kids to pay that much attention to each one, or have individual discussions with kids who are struggling, or bullying others.

Public school has kids from a wide variety of socioeconomic backgrounds but no uniforms, which leaves kids socially disadvantaged as fashion then becomes a factor on which they will be judged.  I grew up not knowing anything about brand names or what was in or out of fashion, and had other kids make fun of my clothes because I didn't wear Tommy or Nike or have expensive jeans.

In high school the kid who got into the environmental science co-op did it to get out of class time, and didn't have any real interest in the subject.  He was my friend's brother, and we went along for the ride to the conservation area the day he met his instructors there.  While I waited I looked at the specimens and remarked on a beautiful species of merganzer I hadn't seen before.  They asked me when my first day would be, and I said I was just here with the guy over there.  There weren't enough spots in the program.  My high school didn't have enough text books for each student, and sharing meant we couldn't take them home to study.  The halls were so crowded it was easier to get from classroom to the other by walking outside rather than risk being late fighting traffic.

In all, the most impactful portion of my education happened before school began, and came from my family, not from school.  School for the most part was something to be endured.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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To be endured - yes. For the teacher as well. When education systems are run by teachers we will see a change. And bullying ignored by teachers? Absolutely not!  Wd need proof to act and that is rarely forthcomjng. Got to go - dinner has arrived!
 
Norma Guy
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I'm glad that in Spain, teachers do not routinely ignore bullying.  I have a friend who is a primary school teacher here in Ontario, and I'm sure he would feel the same way; that teachers should have more input into the system rather than simply being instruments of it.  As a male teacher, he also sees a need for more male primary school teachers, and more teachers in general who are drawn to education because they actually care about kids, and don't badmouth them after school even worse than the other kids do.  He would also take issue with being given split (two grades in one room) classes, while also having to teach standardized curriculum, while at other times having class sizes so large he can't possibly spend individual time with them.  It seems not much has changed here since the 1980s.  Our government has also repealed updates to the health education curriculum that taught kids about consent and safety on the internet.  Stepping backward.  I'm sure this system is incredibly stressful for teachers, and that doesn't help students learn either.
 
pollinator
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I live in the Netherlands. My children are grown up and have children of their own. Our contacts are not that often, so I don't know how my grandchildren are doing at school. But what I hear about the schools here nowadays doesn't make me happy. Sitting still in a classroom, looking at the 'digital blackboard' or using laptops (provided by the school) for learning lessons. The old-fashioned way, but now dressed up in modern technology.

When I was young I was dreaming about a different kind of education system. Schools teaching only the basical needs to help children teach themselves. After having learned how to read and write, the most important would be: how to find the information you need to find out more? To learn what you want to learn. Projects to point in a direction, subjects to choose from provided by the teachers, who are there to help you when you ask for help. No classical lessons and school books. No need to sit in a classroom for hours, because you can be anywhere working on your projects, you even need to go in all kind of places, to learn from real life.

That was my dream, and still is. I think the only children receiving such an education now are the few ones with homeschooling. But the government here discourages homeschooling, most parents don't even know it's possible.
 
Amanda Launchbury-Rainey
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I was always being reprimanded for taking my classes out  for learning opportunities.  E.g. to a cafe to estimate how much money was being spent in half an hour or to a churchyard to loook at inscriptinscriptions, decay, materials etc, to diferent food producers to estimate how far our food travels. Management  hated that. I wish I had enough for my own school.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Myself I learned much on biology being a member of a youth organisation (NJN), having excursions in nature almost every weekend. Not only biology, I learned there too 'how to socialise and communicate', to cook for a group over ten people and to organise a youth camp. And I learned more on the topography, geology and history of the region I lived in than I learned at school.
Most of what was taught at school was only needed to get good grades, to get diplomas. It wasn't useful in life.
 
Norma Guy
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If there could be more hands-on, practical lessons from a young age, they are the most enjoyable and useful.  It is important to bring abstract thought, philosophy and art into education, these drive social progress, but much of it turns into memorization and regurgitation just to pass tests.  There is no doubt that theoretical science and mathematics and history are useful (or aren't we doomed to repeat it?), but most people will never use much of that again after school.  I guess the question would be, at what point do we stop forcing exposure to ideas through memorization, and look at what a student is actually interested in, and then let them feel useful in life doing something practical with what they learn then?  I think the education I missed out on most is what my grandparents could have taught me if they had land, and if my parents had valued land, practical skills I could use today, that were totally lost to my parents.  No one ever told me that my grandmother and her sister used to make soap in the back yard, until I started making soap.  Their generation didn't think those things were important, because they could just buy it in a box.  I feel like I've lost so much time, searching now for teachers, and finding my way slowly.  

Is it true that in many places in Europe, trades for a career are taught in high school, or for free?  And university/college is free in some places?  Here they are big business, with massive international draw to the "prestige".  Many international students have condos, and a BMW or Audi.
 
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I am autistic. Now, I am told that nowadays, autistic kids get an IEP, an Individual Education Plan, but that was not the case back when I was in school. Fortunately, I had a stay-at-home mom, who pulled me out of the school system after the second grade, and home schooled me. That was unusual back then; she was a pioneer in our community in that regard. I remember her jumping through all the official hoops to get permission to do it.

I thrived in home school. In home school, I was able to focus on academics, without being distracted by dealing with the confusing social scene, how to get along with classmates, how to get along with teachers. She had me in Boy Scouts for social learning, but that was separate from school. That was best for me. I couldn't do academic and social learning at the same time.

One thing I do think could have been better. I entered adulthood with no idea of how to earn a living. I have struggled with that ever since.
 
Dave Burton
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Now that I'm soon to finish college, the overall sentiment I have about the education system and learning is that I think self-directed learning is the most effective and beneficial to human development and betterment. Learning to read, write, and then learning how to learn more are perhaps the most important things I have learned. I find the systematic education too restrictive, boring, and forgettable. Whereas, the things I spend my free time doing, reading, exploring outside, watching documentaries, and volunteering to be the most educational things, because they are things I care about and things that I remember. And most importantly, it is the hands-on and interactive learning experiences, for me.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Norma Guy wrote:Is it true that in many places in Europe, trades for a career are taught in high school, or for free?  And university/college is free in some places?


In the past it was possible here in the Netherlands to do University / College without having money. It was not exactly 'free', but if you didn't have the money (your parents didn't have it), there was 'studiefinanciering', meaning the gouvernment paid it for you.
Now that isn't the case anymore. Students can get a gouvernment loan. They have too pay it back after finishing their studies. Only if they don't manage to get a job, so they don't have the money, sometimes it's possible they get exemtion from paying back the loan. From what I heard of people in that situation it's very stressful.
 
pollinator
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Dave Burton wrote:I think self-directed learning is the most effective and beneficial to human development and betterment.


I've spent a decent amount of time on both sides of the table as a learner and as an educator, and then as a parent of a kid headed to college very soon, and this is how I feel as well.

Learning to love learning and learning how to learn should be the aim of education for young people. The world is changing--I've changed careers in a significant way twice, and both time required significant self-guided education. As for things I had to learn for my own interests, I can't even say how many things I had to teach myself, but what remains constant is the confidence that I can learn what I need to, and that it is what will make my life better.
What I emphasize to my daughter is that her ability to learn new things is what will help her make her way in the world. Formal education should teach kids that learning is awesome, not daunting, and that they are preparing themselves for a lifetime of learning.
 
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