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What do we do with education Post-COVID?


old man emu
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2020 has been a year of disruption, nowhere more so than in our kids' education. Second term ends at the beginning of July, but our kids have lost most of that term through shut downs. Sure, the teachers tried to carry on by providing lessons on line, but there are three results of that.

1. Some kids reveled in on-line learning and have shot ahead.

2. Some kids muddled through, completed the work but maybe didn't really learn the lessons

3. Some kids did not have access to the on-line work, or had parents who lacked the interest to have the kids do the work.

 

We still don't know if schooling will return to normal before the end of Term 3, or even the end of the year. What can we do for our kids? If we move them all on as though nothing had happened, then we will have a generation that has missed some of the fundamentals of their education, resulting in lower standards at the end.

 

What if we call off the whole year and restart from square one in 2021? The kids will learn what they were expected to learn in 2020, with the possible benefit that by having a second go, they will have a better grasp of the material. The only problem is that those kids who are pre-schoolers in 2020 will come into the system in 2021. If the 2020 kinders are still in kindergarten, then there would be a bulge in class numbers. That bulge would carry through until the 2020 and 2021 kinders finished Year 12. Class numbers would return to normal in 2022.

 

Is having an excess of kids in one grade going to be a problem? Class numbers in public schools are usually around 25. Do we accept classes of around 50 for seven years of Primary schooling, or do we employ three of four more teachers per school to keep the class numbers of the bulge at 25? We have to remember that it will take 13 years for the bulge to move through the system from kindergarten to Year 12.

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Prior to the covid pandemic we kept being told by the media that our education system was failing. We heard about apprentices and university students who didn't have even a basic grasp of required subjects, such as maths and English.

Maybe now we will see an improvement in education with the kids not being in a supposedly sub standard system.

I have no knowledge whatever of education standards, the kids I took through the education system are now retired. My Grandkids did not get an outstanding education, but it was not far different from mine as far as I can tell. The great grandkids don't want to talk about what they learn in school. So I am in the dark, but the view from the so called experts seems to be gloomy.

It would be good to know exactly where or if education is failing, rather than the media hype.

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On 29/06/2020 at 1:38 PM, old man emu said:

1. Some kids reveled in on-line learning and have shot ahead.

2. Some kids muddled through, completed the work but maybe didn't really learn the lessons

3. Some kids did not have access to the on-line work, or had parents who lacked the interest to have the kids do the work.

Aren't these the same results in physcially attended schools? Do we have numbers of how the normal/frequency distrution of these outcomes over the population have changed? And do we have a general absolute or standardised lowering of standards amongst any of them? I think these questions should be answered first.. It may be that in only certain areas has the impact been that bad and it would be better to concentrate resources into those areas to remediate than spread them thinly for everyone where they may not be needed.

 

As an example, my daughter, who has 3 academic scholarships at the same school (although the discount doesn't accumulate) struggled through motivation.. But, to be honest, although she is good, she is no academic prodigy and I think the school probably handed out the other two to her because the discount doesn't accumulate so it meant using up 3 discouts for the price of 1. She struggled through the online sessions and got the work done in the end.. and sort of understood it.. But her report is the same as when she was attending school and she was having similar issues (the school year for her ends this week). She actually does get it but lacks the confidence (which we are working with the school on) to express it.

 

Intuitively, I think the ones worst affected will be number 3 because there is no teacher during 6 hours of the day to try and egg them on...

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Maybe the problem with the system of education we employ is still the 19th Century one that was based on the same concept as industrial mass production, what is termed the "sausage factory". We put the raw materials in a big hopper at the beginning (kindergarten) and push them all through the same process  til they come out the other end, which is when we do our quality control.

 

Any parent with two or more kids knows that no two behave the same. Each kid is an individual with their own interests and learning methods. That is the basis for the Montessori method. 

The Montessori Method of Educationis a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children. The Montessori method views the child as the one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It attempts to develop children physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.

 

Some of the features of this method are:

1. Student choice of activity from within a prescribed range of options

2. Freedom within limits

3. Uninterrupted blocks of work time, ideally three hours

4. A constructivist or "discovery" model, where students learn concepts from working with materials rather than by direct instruction

5. Specialized educational materials often made out of natural, aesthetic materials such as wood rather than plastic

6. A thoughtfully prepared environment where materials are organized by subject area, within reach of the child, and are appropriate in size

 

I think that there has to be a focus on the very basics - reading, written expression and basic arithmetic, but some of the Montessori concepts should be applied. One step could be to abandon the use of rigid timing of classes. All that does is create clock watchers.

 

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Someone explaining it is always going to be slower than someone doing it... I think someone proficient in the demonstrated method would not take much longer, if at all...

 

@old man emu - my brother is a headmaster at a private school in Melbourne. According to him, at least in private schools where they have resources and smaller class sizes, they pursue an andividualised learning path (whatever that means). He came to London some time ago while our kids were in a state primary school. He was shocked to learn that the class sizes were as high as 30 despite a teaching assistant.. Most schools (here) do 1 & 2 of the Montessori system; 3 is admittedly rare; For 4; they augment teaching with working with materials (at my daughters school, their design technology workshop is better fitted and supplied than many engineering companies I have seen); 5 - meh; 6 is dependent on the resources of the school (aren't Montessori schools in Aus all private schools?) For 6 - depends on the school resources... I do agree.. .more traditional teaching methods still employed would seem to benefit from an overhaul.

 

It still doesn't change the fact that society has a finite set of resources and rather than apply a borad brush to everyone and spread them thinly, in the case of COVID-19 remediation, there will be some who are largely unaffected; focus on the affected ones.

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2 hours ago, Admin said:

Go back to when we were at school

That looks like how you would get from Sydney to Perth by going in an easterly direction.

What happened to:

35

12 x

60

360 +

420

Oh! I forgot. We no longer teach our kids their multiplication tables by rote. It regimentalises the little dears.

 

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That's a little cynical, @OME. I thought it was to even up the test scores between those who could and those who struggle 🙃

 

In a previous role, not too long ago, I had the pleasure of working with a bunch of mathematicians.. all PhD level.. of course that does not make them good teachers.. But when a non-mathematician colleagiue was complaining about how they were teaching multiplication these days, the quantitative scientists (as they were called) jumped to the mordern technique's defence..  Although I am still unsure why, I think it has to do with the lower likelihood of error in foundation calculations of advanced problems when performing mental arithmentic.

 

Have they really stopped rote learning of multiplication tables in Aus? They still teach them here (but they still place a big emphasis on GCSEs here..

 

To go a little off track, I think education has to undergo a fundamental re-design. My son who is a clever little clogs has basically rejected school as it bored him and he didn't take too long to work out that a lot of what they teach is not strictly accurate.. to the point where he has had teachers concede some of the science they teach is so dumbed down, the facts are incorrect (such as our nervous system does not send electrical signals to muscles). He augments his education from entertaining clips from Youtube. I caution him to verify his sources as they are mainly amateurs and some people may have bent agendas.. but apart from one non-school subject of interest, so far everything he talks about seems spot on, his retention is excellent and his level of understanding commensurate...

 

I am not saying we should be using youtube, but pure rote as in our days (who can remember dictation???) has probably stymied the development of many otherwise talented people.

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Maybe there is a different approach to teaching certain maths concepts. For example, using groups to factors, one dozen (non-metric term) apples can be

1. One group of twelve  (1 x 12 = 12)

2. Two groups of six    (2 x 6 = 12)

3. Three groups of four (3 x 4 = 12)

4. Four groups of three  (4 x 3 = 12)

5. Six groups of two   (6 x 2 = 12)

6. Twelve groups of one. ( 12 x 1 = 12)

 

I think that it is a shame that we seem to jump from these basic steps into the use of calculators without understanding the relationships between numbers and operations. 

 

 

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19 minutes ago, Jerry_Atrick said:

I am not saying we should be using youtube, but pure rote as in our days (who can remember dictation???) has probably stymied the development of many otherwise talented people.

 

I would strongly agree with that.  I think I have mentioned before on this forum the we home educated our son (now 30). When I say educated we did not formerlyly teach him anything intentionally.  He learned to read because we read to him regularly. I guess we instilled the notion that learning was not work but fun and from this he taught himself. When he was 14 we took him to a CIT (which is like TAFE)  open day and he identified the course he would need to do. We booked him into some short courses at the relevant institution. At 15 he applied to do a diploma course which was normally only available to students who had successfully completed high school. I recall being called in to meet the head of the institution.  I was expecting to be told that he could not enrol due to his age. The head of the school was impressed with his results in the short courses but needed assurance that at this age he had parental approval. During this course my son met another student who thought my son's idea had potential.  12 years later they have a great company that my son son loves and earns obscene amounts of dollars with.

 

I guess my point is this. The  path my son took with his education is not a blueprint for the mass education system but there are many lessons to learn from it. The key to learning is not old fashioned discipline and learning by rote, it is about inflaming passion for learning. In a way it does not matter what you learn as long as you have passion in what ever area you are interested in.

 

  

 

 

 

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 First 3 years of High School was not a lot of fun. My French got steadily worse but did OK  in the other subjects but left as soon as I could. (the Family had no money) and started a Fitter and Turners thing in the heavy Steel working Industry. After a few (3)months, I had a rethink and went back to school. Not HAVING to be there made all the difference. The teachers had a different attitude  to you and most things changed. Working a couple of nights a week and Saturdays to pay for it ruined my health,.but I eventually went to Teacher's College rather than as a Marine engineer which was what I WAS going to do. That's the sort of thing one aspired to in those days

  Posted to Sydney. (west) I had some spare time Ha HA  so enrolled four night s a week at Uni of NSW. That's what I really enjoyed most as it was great stuff we were learning and I was about the youngest of that batch of students.  OUR results were well above the Full time students at the time. We were better motivated. We paid for our courses and worked day jobs to do it.  I thought I could be a professional student FOREVER.I liked it so much.  I regret not appreciating Shakespeare. I thought it might be a big con. I should have converted my Piano experience to some other instrument. I like Jazz. I was also mucking around with race cars and always had motorbikes (of necessity to get around) and then I  was also flying at about the same time Just after  I went teaching.. In all of this,  intense INTEREST in things is the motivation. IF you get bored, you are going to miss out.

    Some how I think many Kids NOW get bored or distracted  and perhaps they think there are NO jobs (with some Justification). Back then you walked out of one job straight into another. usually by word of mouth and good references.. One's world was more Ordered and there was more trust.  The future seemed more certain. Whether that was real or just made to appear that way or a HOPE is a question worth considering. Nev

 

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OME. I thought I was reasonably well educated but I cannot understand your list of numbers.

35

12 x

60
360 +
420

How do you work out an answer? This is one of the problems of education. The question is always the same, but how it is laid out differs with different people.

I see that 35 * 12 equals 420 and also that 360 + 60 equals 420, but what are you trying to say?

 

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1 hour ago, Yenn said:

How do you work out an answer?

12 x 5 = 60

12 x 30 = 360

360 + 60 = 420

 

I simply put the multiplication of units in a column, then the multiplication of the tens under the units and did an addition.  I was showing the working.

 

Do you know your 12 times tables up to 35? Most people who learned their multiplication tables by rote, did so up to "12 times X".

 

The same calculation could have been done factorially as {(35 x 2) x 6} = 70 x 6 = 420

 

Or  log10 35 + log10 12  = 1.544 + 1.079 = antilog10 2.623 = 419 (due to reducing log to three decimal places)

 

Or you could do it on your whizz wheel

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What I can't get over is how many people do not have a grasp of the English language, and that covers all age groups.Maybe reading posts on  the computer is a poor indication, but the speling is ofun atroshus, and the grammar ain't much better. Even allowing for the occasional uncorrected typing error, or the difficulty with small touch screens on smart phones, etc., surely one should know what they are saying and how it should appear on the page/screen. I consider myself a bit of a dunce, having failed the Leaving Certificate at high school, passing only one subject, Mathematics 1, in the final exam. I was not into reading books, but at least I try to express myself intelligently. These days, people seem to think that it doesn't matter how you spell the word as long as you can sound it out,and punctuation doesn't matter. Leaving out a comma can make all the difference. Example: Let's eat, Grandma, as against Let's eat Grandma. Anyone who has written a computer program will know how catastrophic a missed comma can be. Another is apostrophes. There is a difference between "were" and "we're".

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 Jerry posted above. "an andividualised learning path (whatever that means)."

What it means is that the person writing it made up a word which would have an apparent meaning. The problem is that it can be apparently different from other peoples meaning. A sloppy way of saying I don't know how to say this, so have a go for yourself.

Rather the same as OME's mathematics above.

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I guess that kids no longer are taught the grammar of their own language. Yet, the first things you cover when learning another language are how verbs are conjugated and  the declension of nouns. (Conjugation is the change in form of a verb with regard to tense - I am, I was, I will be. Declension is the change in form of a noun according to gender, number and case - Me, you, him/her; my, your his/hers, our, their). My pet peeve is the failure to match the number of a verb (singular or plural) with the noun, or more often mismatching the number of the verb to its noun because of an intervening phrase. 

 

Ability to understand and use maths and language correctly depends on one's involvement with them. Use either one a lot and you become adept with the way they work. I can understand that the musical notation of a song has meaning to those who have studied the shorthand of musical notation, but I cannot comprehend any of it because I am not a musician.

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I believe ALL kids should be taught Latin so they can get a better understanding of the English language and with that better understanding they will be able to know what word is best used when.

 

For example the Latin/Greek 'ology" meaning "the study of"...we use "ology" today in English but understanding its meaning and how/where it comes from opens up knowledge in when and how to use it

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I studied Latin and French. Both very useful in getting the meaning of English words, but it does leave you scrambling for the meaning of words of Germanic origin. I would love to be able to read hieroglyphics and cuneiform. Remember when Indonesian and Japanese were the "in" languages in high school. Nowadays Chinese should be the go, if only to be able to translate the instructions for the gizmos we buy from them.

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I never studied any language other than English. Hated reading. 

 

As for my previous post, what more can I say? A short post on the other site only has 15 words. Two of them are incorrect. They would sound perfect if spoken, but wrong as written. That's what happens when you have words spelt differently, pronounced the same, but meaning completely different things. The most common instance of this problem is there/their/they're.

 

(Edit. Correction. One is a typo not picked up. Valid spelling so not highlighted by spell check. It always pays to proof-read before hitting Submit.)

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They will find some way to compensate if they apply themselves enough. Adult entrance or equivalent is available to Uni's. Pick fruit or work as a brickies labourer. When you eventually go to Uni or TAFE you won't be as inclined to waste everyone else's time. Nev

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