Education or Endurance

My lad, tells me that yeaterday he found himself having to help out his fellow students with some course work. He reveals that the work is clearly getting too much for some of them.

His cousin somewhere else, tells of a number of drop outs on account of them not being able to cope with either the volume or complexity of the work.

What the f is our educational system meant to be doing?

Is it supposed to be educating people by supplying knowledge or is it simply testing them to destruction using academia as the weapon?



  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    Are you talking about school, FE college or University students?


  • Interesting question. From within, there is a shift in the balance between knowledge and application. 

    Ideally, we give pupils enough knowledge so that they are able to strat to make connections in their minds, which allows them to apply this knowledge in order to make sense of things, solve problems, or move on to new learning / research.

    We seem to be moving back to the knowledge zone, which worries me. Anyone can absorb knowledge, not everyone can use it. Different thing.

  • WilkieWilkie ✭✭✭

    Assuming you are referring to University students, young people have been given the idea that going to Uni is everyone's right.

    That's fine, but not everyone can manage it, and many would have done better going into FE.  

    HE is not about "supplying knowledge", it's also about teaching people to think for themselves and find informtion for themselves.  School doesn't always prepare them for this, because schools are often driven by results so they teach the kids what they need to know to pass the exams.


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Its not about the latest academic method or style.

    Its about overloading kids/students with so much work that they quit altogether.




  • I have noticed that some secondary schools are encouraging pupils to take up to Five A levels...... not many can cope with the breadtha nd depth of independent working required to keep up with that!

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Are you teaching them something they can use or are you just toughening them up in preparation for a hard stressful life?

  • Education isn't supposed to be easy. Part of the process will be learning to time manage what work has to be done and outside someone doing a Masters or PHD nothing is a life crippling exercise is overloading of work.

  • barkles........interesting to see in the 5 universities open days for medicine we went to.that none of them gave any credit at all for doing a 4th a level let alone a 5th............they seemed to view it as a waste of time and if you wanted to do one for your own pleasure then fine but they wouldn't take it into account.....................the same they would only take 8 GCSE's into acoount even though loafds of schools do 12 or more now...........


    Ric the problem with your son helping them with coursework is that how will the teachers know that they are struggling  

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Why would it even occur to a teacher that someone is struggling? the teacher after all is where they are because they find the subject matter easy.

    Egy. So you say education isn't supposed to be easy. So it really is a process of weeding out the weakest. And what an overload of work is, is debatable.



  • I'd agree that my daughter's school gives them too much homework - 11 pieces a week - now if you are someone who wants to do a good job on each that is pretty much your whole weekend gone.   When you are telling them not to bother about the subjects they have no intention of taking for GCSE it's come to something - still I suppose it teaches them to prioritise.   

    The two young ones start 2ndary next Sept and I'm hoping they get into a different school (random ballot ) which has a slightly longer day but no homework.    The joke is the older ones school has mediocre results and a pretty average ofsted report so you'd think they might realise it isn't working.

  • RicF wrote (see)

    Why would it even occur to a teacher that someone is struggling? the teacher after all is where they are because they find the subject matter easy.

    Egy. So you say education isn't supposed to be easy. So it really is a process of weeding out the weakest. And what an overload of work is, is debatable.

    Teachers and schools are now scored on results though. Classes are now tailored to get results. Good results equal better league table status, better league table status means job security and better quality of applicant.

    Teachers are not there as they find the subject matter easy. They are there because they studied that subject, or related subject at University.

    You can debate if lessons should be written to delivered to a child's ability, or driven to achieve best results for the school regardless. We have in the last couple of decades moved to a model were non-academic children are viewed as a failure, something I personally feel is wrong. That's a political point though and not something schools can act on alone. If they go "easy" and results drop the school and teachers would be under investigation for "failing" their pupils.

  • But that presupposes the best way to get good results is overload them with stuff - which in my view it isn't - as I say the school I wanted my daughter to go to gets better value added scores and a better ofsted report than the one she actually goes to which loads them down with homework.   

    The best way to get results is to engender interest in the subject and self belief in their ability - not make them see schoolwork as a millstone round their neck.   Obviously you have to put the work in but at my eldest's school a lot of it is work for the sake of fulfilling some homework quota.   

  • I'm on the Understanding and applying side of the argument. I'm concerned with helping people think constructively, with processes based on knowledge and the ability to apply it. 

    I would contend that a good teacher instinctively knows when a pupil is struggling... you can sense it. 

  • All this is driven by government directives, much of which many teachers disagree with. All the government cares about is statistical improvement, so methods will only ever be adapted to reflect political improvements.

    If they break from these methods the teacher will be under investigation. If less pupils take certain qualifications the school is under investigation. Education sadly is a political beast these days. League tables that mean nothing, go on area wealth and you get similar standings, and political parties wanting to trumpet how more pupils took n amount of exams and that the pass rate is higher/better.

    The individuality of each child matters not to them.

  • I think it is important for people to understand the extent of the pressure to achieve certain percentages of grades. 


    Quite simply, if you don't, it becomes very clear very quickly that heads will roll very quickly. Sadly little account is taken of the starting point, even if there is a pretence that this is the case. I have sat in very many OFSTED meetings to argue the point..

    If your mortgage depends on a set number of grades you will get them.


    My major concern lies in those who fall behind the wayside. Secondary schools are much safer if they decide not to enter borderline pupils for an exam... rather than risk it. I have some statistics but I'd better not share. 

    Intersting question to ask at parents evenings tho... ' what percentage of pupils starting the GCSE English course were entered for the exam ....'

  • Barkles wrote (see)

    I have noticed that some secondary schools are encouraging pupils to take up to Five A levels...... not many can cope with the breadtha nd depth of independent working required to keep up with that!


    We were advised that three was pushing it, how the hell does anyone do five? Mind you that was in the mid 80s when they were still proper hard...

  • youngest 2 go to different youngest seems to only do a piece of homework every week or so...........he might just do it in his lunchtime as he is allowed to stay in...........he is in GCSE year and still never seems to do much........apart from the odd piece of coursework.........they manily do taht in school time as well.....

    the middle son is in a welsh school and seems to do more but still not that much....was talking a couple of years ago to another parent in his class and they said their daughter was doing homework for hours every son was out doing hockey most nights............

    maybe boys are better at assessing / prioritising and only putting the effort in where they know its needed........

  • Seren - guess you'll find that out on parent-teacher evening!

    When you give a lot of homework it will always be a quality-quantity dilemna. I have to say, my school seemed to have very optimistic estimates for the time some pieces of work would take. One teacher got fired after the parents of a whole class complained after she set 5 hours worth of homework for the next day, then put anyone who hadn't completed it to her standard in detention...

    Every teacher thinks that their subject is the most important, and that's part of the problem, and I think it is actually those who want to do well who suffer the most, as they end up spending hours on it. Throughout school and university I studied and ran, and did very little else (including not much eating and sleeping). My Masters year was a relief - I said I was going to do the 40 hours I was supposed to be doing a week and no more, and I ended up doing far better than in my degree because I gave my brain and body a chance to recover from the studying. I now study part-time, and am still working out how to get the balance fitting it around work, and managing to train as well, but I'm starting to settle into a routine.

    Regarding A levels, do three "proper ones" and do them to the best of your ability (we all also did general studies as a fourth, but this requires no studying). In the rest of the time, do things that are of interest to you, and give you other goals/achievements/make you a better rounded person. This was my sixth forms policy and it worked: they have some of the best state school results nationally. We also all had to do one extra curricular activity which we commited to and was put onto our personal timetables, so everyone had something other than grades and wider reading to write about on their personal statement - be that a sport or a hobby. All of my school friends went to a different school. One of them got an Oxford offer, but then he screwed it up because he spread himself too thinly by being poorly advised to take four A levels, and ended up with AABB, when he needed AAA, which was silly of him because he got As in the ones he needed for the course (maths, physics) and not the totally unrelated ones (history, music). 


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    It does seem that the content/subject matter of education is almost irrelevant compared to the ability to 'play the game'.

    And while this political football game is being played out by various parties, it seems that the students are just used as the ball.

    And bearing in mind that outside academia, 99.9% of everything examined in school will be disregarded on leaving, its a shame that in being forced to be the ball, the students are basically kicked to death by others attempting to score goals.

    Worked half to death for the benefit of the game. Only survivors welcome.

  • it certainly wasn't at my uni.

    admittedly it was a arts degree, but even then it was too easy and far too undemanding. four years could easily have been compressed into two (or perhaps even one).

    and I'm not very bright.


  • dancing with spikes...........they are both in the top few of their schools...............which doesn't say a lot in this area......

    my youngest sons school is doing such a wide variety of courses at GCSE level so that pupils get a better chance of leaving with some qualifications.........

    you can do an introduction to the building trade or motor mechanics in the locsl college one morning a week...............or even go to one of the army preperation colleges once a week

    they do BTECs in engineering etc as well as the GCSE' music they offer 2 for those who play and instrument or sing and one for those who enjoy mixing and working with the mixers etc.......

    they know the boys come from a deprived area and really work to try and get something to interest and excite them

    so i don't think like Ric that they are letting them fall aside and rejected



    there is no longer an education system there is an assessment system

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    The education is learning how to 'play the game'. 

    Anyone who believes the subject matter of education is the key to future success and security is both naive and misinformed. The subject matter is of no use since its all old info which is available to anyone.

    The selling point of anything depends on its exclusivtivity. 'Tell me something no-one else knows'.

    Only have to look at those with masses of qualifications getting absolutely nowhere in life to see that. 

    It is a system of which assessment is just another element to keep the players and conductors occupied.

    The game is how much crap can you take and whether or not your face fits.


  • Well yes to an extent it is easy to think that qualifications lead to a good job - which isn't always the case - though obviously the right kind of qualifications combined with attitude, luck, who you know etc are important.   

    To an extent I do agree (if this is what you are saying) that some education, particularly university courses, are only really there to keep the people delivering the courses in employment.   

    Education in general though is hugely important.   Without access to education for all you have no hope of any kind of equality in society - lack on education does impact massively on social mobility etc - there will always be exceptions but in general if you leave school with nothing you have a struggle ahead of you.   

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