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Education Issues

By Ray Terris

There are some education issues that I feel need addressing. In my other page the Importance 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.


Don't Think

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 established ones.

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.


ADHD

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.


Different Strokes

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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The best way to reach me with comments or questions is through the Blog or my Facebook page. Please feel free to post there.

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