What’s going on in Education?

What’s going on in Education?

This feels like a really unexpected post, as out of the rather long list of blog post ideas, this wasn’t on it. Yet when I was scrolling through Facebook mindlessly on Monday evening, and came across this video, suddenly I couldn’t let the idea go. I was so taken by it that I even shared it – which is something I don’t do lightly, especially if there’s a political message behind it.

Have a watch of this, and see what you think:

(Video belongs to The Guardian)

I can’t help but feel that Lauren hits the nail on the head with some of this speech. The truth resonates with me: as someone who has just left state education, I’ve witnessed some of this.

The reformed exams have had their first ‘guinea pig’ year – English and Maths for the GCSE students, and a handful of A level exams. These changes are being rolled out properly over the next two years, yet they aren’t really a ‘reform’. Normally, you’d consider ‘reform’ a positive. I’ve always thought about the Great Reform Acts in history in making great changes. These changes aren’t helpful, nor positive, and have helped to drive students further and further into the ground. It is clear they were made by politicians – who have little care about the people their policies affect.

To an extent, I can understand the point in ‘reverting back to how things were’. But this idea becomes flawed when it doesn’t actually compute into reality. Take my History A level as an example. I love history, and am planning on studying it at university next year. Yet, we were faced with the complete unknown. We had no idea what to expect in the exam, as we had very little exam material. We were blind as to how they would be marked, let alone graded. And furthermore, the pressures and demand on us as students was dramatically increased. Try learning 110 years of American History, and 41 years of 16th Century English history in depth, at the same time as two other subjects, to the point where you know the fine details to be able to answer whatever small question we get thrown. I’m not complaining about exams – I fully understand that they are needed to challenge and test the knowledge we’ve learned. Yet, when the exams become more about ‘how good is your memory?’ as opposed to ‘how can you apply this knowledge?’, I feel like something’s gone wrong.

It’s reached the point that I genuinely fear for the health not only of the students, but of the teachers. They are the unsung heroes in this. Because it’s not just exams that have changed, but entire curriculums. That means hours and hours of new lesson plans, learning new content, alongside marking, teaching, long hours and handling the unruly students. Yet, you don’t hear them complaining, do you? The occasional news story about union strikes sometimes comes up, but in comparison to the railway strikes, that is pittance. In many ways, the teachers have taken the bullets for their students. The changes made by the government that were supposed to make ‘exams more of a challenge’, as too many people were getting top grades. But instead they’ve had a devastating effect.

Nevertheless, standards have risen, and the reality is that the majority of students feel the pressure to perform. To be told that our futures very much depend on the grades we achieve can be an unnecessary pressure. It is true that the mental health of students is affected. If I’m honest, how could it not be? It’s not a healthy environment – and while schools do everything they can for us, it doesn’t stop the work from piling up.

I’ve realised this has turned more into a rant than I wanted – but I wanted to make one thing clear. I loved studying, and learning, and used to crave finding out new things. I loved school. But over the past year or so, that was diminished. I lost that love, and passion for education. Whether that was because in my mind, I became an ‘exam-machine’, or that my life revolved around studying, I have no idea. I’m determined to find that love again – because I know it’s somewhere. But I can’t help but feel like maybe some people are pushed too far – to the extent they turn their backs on something they were once so passionate about.

 

It’s just something to think about. I don’t want to complain – because we are so fortunate to be able to have the access to education that we do. I know that as a nation, young people do take it for granted, myself included. But when health is at risk because of the pressures of education, isn’t there something wrong?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – share them below!

Hannah

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5 Comments

  1. Mike Wyvill
    27th September 2017 / 8:16 pm

    A complicated topic! As someone from an older generation, the pressure to get good grades was also very high in the Thatcher years when there were very few jobs and a poor economy as a whole. I think the pressures are similar, but the mental illnesses more noticied (more likely?). Maybe the causes are different, and due to more social pressures – to keep up appearances, the have the best Instagram and Facebook facades?
    As a sidepoint, I like to see teachers delivering new material – it would be tough to churn out the same for 40 years and keep your sanity 🙂
    Keep on bloggin’!

    • Hannah
      Author
      27th September 2017 / 11:15 pm

      As a historian – it’s interesting to look at how trends come around. I don’t mean to discredit what it was like in the past, as I don’t have the experience to comment. I totally agree in that social media has a major role in the attitude of students, and also the pressures they face. I think it takes peer pressure to a whole new level, as it’s not something that can be escaped when you leave school for the day.
      I agree about the new material – if I were a teacher I wouldn’t want to teach the same content over and over. The issue I have is when the sheer lack of resources, i.e. the textbooks not being published by the time the course is supposed to be taught, can make a challenging job even tougher. Regardless, the majority do a great job.
      Thanks for your feedback – I really appreciate it!

  2. 27th September 2017 / 9:11 pm

    Hi Hannah, yes I saw that clip today on Facebook and was moved my the girl’s raw emotion on the subject. I didn’t enjoy school at all, and that was some 40yrs ago. My son found his five years in secondary school quite distressing, but his last two years in sixth form college were much better. It is such a difficult thing to change. As parents we spent most of year 8 meeting with the head of governes but nothing changed and my son was glad to see the back of school after his GCSEs.
    All the best for your blog, Good Bless, Billy

  3. 20th October 2017 / 8:31 pm

    Education is so complex, I currently study BA Education and I love it but also hate it. Is started my degree wanting to be a teacher and after everything I’ve learned I’ve decided now I don’t want to be. The education system we have I think will always have challenges (especially on students and teachers) but it is never about actually learning and doing it for you own good now its just to pass exams and have the sheet at the end of year 11. I mean surely that means no one will enjoy learning just for learning if its all just for grades? I feel like I could go on for hours. But hey, that’s the way it goes. Great post (I’m glad we are on the same page) Haha Xx

    • Hannah
      Author
      20th October 2017 / 8:40 pm

      Yes! Yes yes yes! The whole idea about it being a tick sheet to get to the end of Y11 is so true, yet pains me when I can see the joy that is possible from education! Thank you so much for reading and commenting ☺️ xx

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