By Ray Terris
There are some education issues that I feel need addressing. In
my other page the
of Education I mentioned some changes that I thought were needed. Here are
some ideas that may help. I do not expect everyone to agree with what is written
here and would welcome any constructive criticism or comments. Education issues
affect all of us, it is our future.
The greatest problem that I had in school, and why I learned to
hate it, was that we were not allowed to think or be an individual. If something was done that did
not agree with the schools criteria of how it should be done then you failed.
My brother in law gave me a good example of this. He had his own
way of solving math problems, he got the right answers the wrong way. Even after
demonstrating how he arrived at the correct answer he failed the tests. His
method, according to him, was easier for him to work, but this was unacceptable
so he had to be trained out of it.
At my high school in England they had school uniforms. We all
had to dress the same, we were assigned desks for each course that we had to sit
at and take the same classes. The girls had some different courses from the
boys, we were not allowed to choose. I know that schools are not that regimented
today but many of the same ideas still apply.
Our headmaster used to conduct weekly inspections of our home
room desks. My desk was always a mess, I don't claim to be the tidiest person
around. He would always choose my untidiness to make an example of, his stock
phrase was "A tidy desk shows a tidy mind". One day I countered with "and a tidy
mind can't create new ideas." This was not well received, I was duly punished
and informed that I was not there to create new ideas but to learn the old well
It was almost like we were being trained to become mindless
robots that would work in factories.
Language and Literature
Another of the education issues that I have a problem with is
the wasted time and effort. Take a look at the sentence below...
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy hounds.
Do you understand what it says? What it means? Of course, you
can picture the fox jumping over some dogs, simple. Do you know or care which of
these words is a verb, noun or whatever? Does it make the sentence easier to
understand or change it in any way? And yet we spent whole semesters learning
about verbs, nouns, dangling participles...... Dangling participles Huh? sounds
dangerous to me.
Apart from some university professors, who is the least bit
interested or has any use for that kind of information?
It is vital that people are taught to read, write and speak
correctly. A teachers time with students is valuable and limited, it should not
be wasted on irrelevant nonsense.
I have noticed that reading and writing are very poorly taught,
in North America at least. If you doubt that I invite you to look at many of the
comments that are posted on different websites, the spelling is terrible, and
that is even with spell check available.
When he was younger, my nephew told me that he could not read,
this was in grade ten. After talking to him for a while he told me that he had
no interest in reading, it was boring. Now this was a challenge to me, I am an
avid reader, it is one of my favorite pastimes. What the real problem came down
to was that he had no interest in reading what he was being told to read.
His reading problem was resolved by finding out what he was
interested in reading about, planets, dinosaurs and other 'real stuff '. I found
him some books on interesting facts and worked with him for a while. It did not
take long before he was reading quite well, he even discovered that fiction
books could be enjoyable too. He read the hobbit and all three Lord of the rings
(big books) and this was before they became movies.
The point here is to let the students read what interests them.
It really does not matter if it is comic books at first, they will soon realize
that reading is fun. Their spelling will also improve with increased reading.
I know that schools now offer more interesting reading
materials. We had to read Shakespeare, catcher in the rye and other confusing,
dry books. I did not learn to enjoy reading until after I finished school.
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I really do not
believe in ADHD it is one of the education issues where abuse has crept in. I have never met someone who is truly attention deficient, I
have met some who have been declared ADHD but were not. I suppose that it is
possible that there are ADHD people out there but if so they are rare.
My nephew was said to be ADHD in school and was put on Ritalin,
a drug that is used on the streets. Whenever my nephew came to stay with me he
never showed any sign of being attention deficient, we would discuss lots of
different things and he was always right there. He would help me make chess
tables, chess sets and other wood crafts, spending hours at a time. Now that he
is older he is interested in construction, it is a pleasure to watch him work,
he pays attention to the fine details and does excellent work.
Fortunately my sister and brother in law did not agree with him
being on drugs and took him off the Ritalin. He dropped out of school and went
to work but has since gone to community college to complete his high school
education and is taking civil engineering. His math marks are always in the 90s
and he gets annoyed with himself if any of his marks drop below 90.
It does not take a genius to realize that when young people are
fidgety and inattentive they are BORED, not ADHD. I am not a recognized teacher
but I have taught courses in arts and crafts to young people and I have even
discussed religion and philosophy with them. Young people love to learn, just
make it interesting for them and you will get all the attention that you want.
When I was in high school the attempted cure for lack of
attention was 'six of the best', that is being caned. We were beaten into
submission, now young people are drugged into submission. Either way is cruel
and destructive, it shows a failure on the part of the education system to
properly nurture the innate desire to learn. ADHD is an excuse, drugs will not
cure the problem only mask it.
When I was in school, England had a system of separating out
children before they went on to high school, commonly known as the 11+ exam.
Everybody wrote the exam, those who passed went to grammar school, any who
failed were sent to secondary modern and the ones who came really close were
given an oral test and could go to technical school. I do not think this is
widely done any more but it did have its merits.
I still believe in separating children into different groups. I
know that some people will disagree with this because it would make some
children feel less intelligent or something like that. Well how do they feel
when they are sitting in a classroom with academically brighter children?
I should not have to point out that people are different.
What happens when you assign these different children into one class. The
curriculum is designed to meet one group. Students who are not academically
inclined will feel stupid and not grasp the subject. Those that are highly
academic will get bored and drop out, if they are not diagnosed ADHD and drugged.
This leaves one small group who are getting an education that fits their needs.
My nephews and one niece would not be able to keep up with me in
literature or philosophy, does this mean that I think they are stupid? No way,
they are really bright, one nephew is an excellent mechanic, the other is great
in construction and my niece is so artistic and creative that I am jealous. My
one nephew and niece dropped out of school, not because they were unintelligent
but their intelligence type was not met.
We have to stop basing opinions of intelligence only on academic
standards. Even further we must not base peoples value on intelligence. It
should not be too difficult to figure out where a young persons strong points
and interests are. A simple separation could be based on academic, mechanical
and artistic creative types. Then the students could be assigned to the schools
and instructors that are best suited to their needs. It would be easier on
students and teachers alike.
Almost final words
Please do not get the idea that I am totally against the
education system. In fact I am very grateful for the education that I have
received, it was better than most and way above what the majority of children in
this world get. People in third world countries would give almost anything to
receive what I did. We have education issues but at least we have education.
I do not apologize if I seem to come on a bit too strong on
parts of this page. Education is important to me as it should be to everybody.
Some education issues need to be resolved and soon, I believe it can and will be
done if there is enough input and support put into it.
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questions is through the Blog or my Facebook page. Please feel free to post there.