Education: a Parents Dilemma – Lucy’s Rant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School life hasn’t been that easy for the Jewson family. We’ve had some ups and downs and it’s led us to changing schools recently. Uprooting them from their friends and the security they provide to their lives was a really tough decision.  But we have been desperately wanting to do the right things that allow them to thrive rather than simply survive.

A friend recently pointed me in the direction of an amazing animation of Sir Ken Robinsons “Changing Education Paradigms” (you can look it up on YouTube) – it’s a real eye opener – I would recommend every parent and teacher takes 5 and watches it.

Essentially it explores the fact that our current education system, where we stick tiny children in one end of a factory production line and pick them out “educated” at the other end, is killing creativity and divergent thinking in our children.

It talks about a study done on 1500 kindergarten children who were tested for divergent thinking (eg being asked – how many uses can you think of for a paperclip? – a normal adult might think of 10-15 uses, if you are good you may think of 200 uses) – 98% of kindergarten children were amazing at this and were graded as geniuses. The same children were tested 5 years later – only 32% were genius level, by 13-15yrs it was down to 10%.  Adults aged 25yrs were down to 2% genius level at divergent thinking.

How scary is that?  Our childrens’ creativity and “multi-angled” way of looking at the world is funnelled down such a straight path with our “one question, one answer” way of educating, that innovation is completely stifled by the time they are teenagers.  Does that sound like an education that suits this unbelievably fast paced, intensely stimulating phase in our global evolution? You used to go to school, maybe go to university, get a job – but that outcome is no longer guaranteed  – the world is changing – fast.

Both Kurt and I come from families of teachers, so don’t get me wrong, I think the majority of teachers do an amazing and very difficult, yet rewarding job – I’m just wondering if the whole system is set up right – perhaps we need to divergently think about it?

Lucy Jewson

9 Comments

  1. Rochelle

    Hi Lucy

    I too have seen that clip and found it quite astonishing. My house is permanently littered with markers, scissors, paints, tape and my children automatically gravitate to creating something with these even in the 5 mins between breakfast and getting into the car for school. Even before it occurs to them to watch the tv. Childrens’ minds seem to be naturally curious and creative. My children bring the odd bit of artwork home occassionally but in a term it is roughly the same amount as what they create in a couple hours at home.
    But what I find difficult with the education system is that for the young ones the day is so long that it leaves no time for much else, and if you try to squeeze in an activity after school well there is no down time and the child ends up not wanting to do the activity not for lack of interest, but rather for lack of down time.
    While I appreciate it is a system catering to many, I wish there was a little bit of flexibility within the education system and I agree that divergence would be a good thing.

  2. deborah richards

    Lucy, just thought I’d say, my son 25 has just started teaching in a school in Yorkshire where he trained, which like him is very keen on the Ken Robinson school of doing things. I thought you might be pleased to know that there are those out there coming up the system, sausage machine of teacher training too, who want to do things differently and afford an altogether richer experience. It’s a lot of hard work when he’s in a minority and these are secondary age kids.
    Persevere and be confident to be different, we always were and we now have three very different sons in very different jobs but they are all employed, doing what they feel are worthwhile things. I feel pleased about that but it was a huge effort to go against the grain, quite isolating and confidence sapping.

  3. Vicki

    Hi Lucy

    It’s so hard, isn’t it? FWIW, we made the decision about 2 yrs ago to take our kids out of school and home educate them. This was, at least in part, due to the things you mention – in particular, what I saw as creative thinking and individuality was tending to be marked as disruptive behaviour or an unwillingness to conform.

    I wouldn’t say that home education has always easy – and also coming from a family of teachers the initial decision was a tricky one – but we are rewarded every day by seeing our kids thrive. It started out as a “let’s give it 6 months and see” but the longer we are out of the school system, the less I can see us returning.
    It’s probably not for everyone, but it works for us. It gives us far more opportunity for creativity and spontaneity, as well as allowing us to tailor our kids’ education to what interests them and how they learn best.

    Anyway, I hope your kids are happier at their new school and that you find a solution that works for you.

  4. Diana Edwin

    There are lots of people who are “divergently thinking” about education, they are choosing not to put their children into the great big sausage-making machine in the first place 😉 It’s not an answer for everyone of course, but you do find a lot of creativity and imagination being celebrated, explored and developed in home educating families. I could do worse at this point than to quote Beatrix Potter: “Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” ~ Beatrix Potter (1866-1943). Maybe this isn’t a new problem at all!

  5. Lucy

    Just watched the video – I really love the RSA stuff and hadn’t seen this one – so interesting. I definitely lean towards home schooling but know I haven’t got the confidence or knowledge to do it well (or the support of my husband!). We are incredibly lucky where we live as our village has a very small primary school with a very proactive head teacher so it feels like a good compromise. When we went to look round, she said they are really trying to encourage decision making and for children to be able to think on their feet as the jobs they’ll be doing haven’t even been invented yet. All very reassuring and I know how lucky we are to have that. Not sure what we’ll do at secondary level but it’s a way off yet. I think it’s definitely a case of following your instinct – if it doesn’t feel right, make a change. Thanks Lucy for pointing this out, very thought provoking on a Monday evening!

  6. Karen

    We home-ed too! If ever your children are not happy in school, it is worth considering home-ed. DD has never been to school. She is happy and learning enthusiastically.
    It is just another way of learning, which happens to work well for us at this point in time.

  7. Nancy

    I have had 3 older children go through the state education system and have really watched the schools near us get worse and worse. The teachers are like robots who go through the motions of teaching but never really engage the children.

    My youngest is nearly 4 and has just started at the local Steiner Kindergarten. This is like a breathe of fresh air and she loves it so much. I have no doubt that she will stay there as long as possible.

  8. Helen

    All schools (except private ones) have to follow the national curriculum – maybe thats where change should start – reviewing that? It is very prescriptive and whilst there are bonuses to having to follow it, it does limit teachers somewhat who have to fit it all in which leaves little time for anything else. Of course some teachers interpret it better and more interestingly then others – hopefully your boys will have good teachers in their new school Lucy, who can inspire and enthuse them – despite still being limited as to what they have to teach. I teach PE to primary age kids and whilst they should learn different sorts of rolls, for example, getting them to think it through makes for a much more interesting lesson. “show me a way of getting from a to b with both your backside and your tummy touching the floor” can lead to many different ways of moving, it always amazes me what they come up with! Montessori is an approach that I don’t know much about but I believe let’s children have much more freedom in their learning.

  9. Rach

    Hi – read ‘the rant’ in your catalogue after buying some lovely pyjamas, and then watched ken robinson – being a ‘dancer’ someone had already directed me to sir ken on ‘ted tv’ where he talks about dance being undervalued in schools amongst other things…..i just wondered what changes you had made – are you home schooling now, or have you gone to a steiner or montessori? Curious, as the rant only gives half the story……! Completely agree with sir ken’s lecture, but would like to hear how he would go about making changes…..Thanks for bringing this up again though – with 4 boys (maybe 1 of which enjoys the ‘academic’ side) i think it’s something that will possibly need to be addressed again in our house.

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