What do you value in your own education? What has it taught you?
In a previous post, (Need a change?) I wrote that I had seriously started to question the current education system- in fact, had started to think we’ve got it all wrong. (This is a curious thing, because generally people tend to become more -small c- conservative as they get older.) I said that I really wanted to be positive, to explore what I think we ought to do instead. However, I have found it difficult to get started on this exploration.
A Facebook post which read: “Hmmmm… and yet another day has passed and I did not use algebra… very interesting,” (Link) must have been fermenting slowly in my tiny mind. It gave me the idea of starting by looking back at my own education and what I value from it.
A cautionary note: as a teacher, much of what I have learnt was inevitably passed on to my students. I’ll try to avoid the (circular?) argument: I learnt it, I taught it to my pupils, therefore what I learnt is valuable. (Comments on how to express this better are welcome.)
First, reading. I do remember having to read the same Janet and John reader several times, as I couldn’t go on to the next one until I had read it to the teacher. But I can’t remember learning to read. As far as I know, I just sucked it up… with a lot of input from very literate parents. I have no recollection of being taught skimming, scanning or any research skills. I was given a rich grounding in literature at school, for which I am profoundly grateful. This grounding included Shakespeare and poetry.
Although I learnt Latin for three years, and parsed sentences in English (look it up), my grammar chiefly comes from French. Again, I don’t remember being taught to write. I got any fluency I may have in writing, and certainly the idea of a sentence, from reading everything I could.
My mathematics was good enought to take me to half a degree in it; but functionally I only use basic computation, measurement and percentages. Recreationally I use all sorts of odd bits of maths, because I like puzzles.
Science has been an abiding interest, generated by some good teaching, and I suppose that it has enabled me to make more sense of the modern world. My interest in history and some basic historical ideas must have started in school. Similarly I learnt to read maps. (Satnavs? That may need to be another post.) Although I am not a linguist, the basic French I learnt, topped up at intervals, has stuck with me long enough to make holidays easier.
Culturally, school initiated some of the most absorbing pleasures of my life. A General Studies course sparked an interest in art.Music lessons, as well as widening my tastes, provided me with some grounding in theory which has been useful. Sadly, violin lessons have not been as lasting.
Somehow I became an autodidact along the way. I read and listened voraciously, usually not in any directed way. How much of this was kicked off by my education, how much I followed my father’s example and how much just happened I can’t work out. First libraries then the internet enabled this.
What then do we infer from all this, children? It would seem that the content of the learning I value is either limited or unstructured. Perhaps more importantly, I have learnt a huge amount in different contexts to that of school. I do value learning for its own sake. Granted, I am probably not typical; but I’ll muse on all this now and try to develop my thoughts at later date. Comments, as always, are gratefully received, especially if they help clarify my muddled thinking.