Mrs A's Blog

My Rambling Thoughts on Teaching and Learning

What Exactly is the Purpose of Education?

This week I have spent my time in primary school planning meetings.  Each of these has started the same way with the teachers being given a copy of the draft National Australian Curriculum.  Each of these meetings has then gone in a very different direction depending on the combination of teachers.  One thing that did stand out is that the teaching staff got caught up with the content of the Australian Curriculum and how the content was different from what they currently taught.

Something which has stood out to me is the severe lack of skills being taught in the National Australian Curriculum.  And the swift way in which teachers (myself included) seemed to throw the thought of teaching students skills out the window.

I was reading Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum tonight and it got me thinking about what exactly the purpose of school and education is?  What do we take from school into the big bad world when we leave the gate at the end of year 12?  What do we take from school into university? And then our degrees into our job?  So as I always do when I start thinking I ask Twitterland!

What is your clearest memory of primary school? High school? University?

My clearest memory of primary school was as a whole class (year 3) being praised for being proactive and going into the classroom after first break everyday and reading while we waited for the teachers to return from their morning tea meeting.  Then on the sixth day of doing this scoring a lunchtime rubbish clean up (the whole class did) for going into a classroom without a staff member.

For High School the memory is of me making a fool of myself dancing to Rip Rip Woodchip by John Williamson in Year 8 to explain the meaning of logging.  (I doubt I got the meaning across but it was fun even if it was embarrassing!)

Meanwhile in University my memories are of me trying to get my readings complete with one or two children hanging off me.

None of this was about the content or even the skills I learnt at school.

So I asked my twitter friends. And their responses were the same.  They were about fights, arguments, results, excursions, bullying, parties, punishments and handing the last piece of assessment in. Nothing about content or skills.

TeacherNZ high response Kvnmcl response rathhelen uni response TeacherNZ uni response

So WHY as teachers do we get so hung up on the content?  Reality is none of us really remember it later in life.

We should be teaching skills.  Lets throw the content out that window instead.

Who’s joining me?

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1 comment

  1. I teach to the two core skills of knowing stories and finding stuff (information sounds a little pretentious but that is what grown ups call it). We are philosophically committed to being unique with our special mix of intelligences, having our own identity, username and password. We are also committed to being independant learners though sharing is our number one goal because none of us is as good as all of us.

    Every lesson has a story (and occasionally gossip) and it is surrounded with the paraphenalia of the story, whether masks or pieces of wood or videos or songs that deepen its meanings, and an online blog where the generic content for the lesson is stored.

    Every lesson uses a workbook where we break down information into its components so we know we can come at any angle to find what fits our needs. We practise the information skills process, the genre style of presenting (be it in music, narrative or games) , the different nature of language in text types, the thinking skills of coloured hats, and lastly that we need to be competent in a number of skills to be well balanced citizens of democracy.

    We practise our skills with every teacher of every KLA no matter who they are, what personality they have, and what part of the curriculum or content they have written in their register this week. Our purpose is to explore all our miraculous potentials so that when we are faced with a problem we have the confidence to take it on without that hopeless “what am I supposed to do now” feeling.

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