Ta-da! Welcome to our new series on education and schooling, covering pretty much anything you’re interested in (so keep the suggestions coming).
Here’s my big question. Education is awesome, but does schooling have anything to do with it?
Do you remember third form maths and all the time you spent on set theory? It was the first taste for most of us of maths that had absolutely no obvious application to the world, and I haven’t met anyone whose maths teachers made clear why they were spending three terms on it (I’m not saying it shouldn’t be taught, just that I don’t know specifically why it is). But Venn diagrams are the redemption of that whole curriculum mystery.
We have set A: education. This set contains the learning of skills and knowledge in order to be a good citizen (however you define that) and a content person (ditto). I’m all in favour of educating SBJ! He should indeed learn and explore things his whole life long and enjoy doing so. Hurrah for education!
Then we have set B: schooling. This set contains going to a classroom for 6 hours a day for 12 years, with a group of children roughly the same age, with a large range of abilities and interests. This set includes lunchtime with games, packed lunches and socialising. This set includes one teacher to every 15-30 kids.
My main question is about the intersection, the overlap, between these two sets. Are education and schooling the same thing or distinct? Is there a bunch of education stuff, things that he’ll need to learn to be happy and productive, that isn’t found in Set B? How will we include it in his life if he goes to school? Is there a bunch of stuff in Set B that isn’t education and which we may or may not value for SBJ? If so what do we do about that?
You may have seen this animated talk from Sir Ken Robinson, which nicely sets up many of my questions (and let’s be clear, scepticism) about the value and effectiveness of institutional schooling.
What do you think?
There’s much more to say, and to hear from you, so I won’t leave any more direct questions today. In the comments, please feel free to suggest questions or themes or guests for this series, and to discuss anything you like about education and schooling, knowing that we’ll be covering the territory bit by bit over the coming months.
I’d also like to say at the start that while I’ve got lots of questions challenging the current practice of institutional schooling, I have a great deal of respect for people working in schools. Some of my best friends (and guest bloggers!) are teachers, as they say. And my Mum! I also know that many of you will have had wonderful experiences at school, and many of your children are being well served by their schools.
My son is almost 14 months old, so obviously we’re years away from needing to make any decisions, and we haven’t done so. I genuinely have no idea what SBJ’s education will look like, so this series is partly for me to untangle some of my thoughts and hear from different people, including several experts and practitioners. There will be many more questions than answers, I expect. I’m looking forward to it.