Opinion

The way forward could be to get back to basics

A bevy of educators came to the Pickled Debaters and asked the great thinkers, how can education be improved.

And the wise men answered thusly:

The education system is like a large freight train running downhill. To change its course, one must apply the brakes slowly. If this is done too rapidly, the brake linings will overheat and burn out with disastrous results.

To try to change the direction too sharply will achieve similar results. The front of the train may turn uphill but the back will run off the tracks.

One must tweak the system gently to achieve the best results. So, great educators, do the following:

The Ten Basic Steps to Educational Improvement

1, The Jimmy Brock Test

A, Simply put, this requires the “educator” to ask themselves the following question: does what I am about to do enhance student learning and the learning environment?

If the answer is yes, then do it.

B, The CTM supplemental test: the educator should also ask themselves “is teaching and learning directed to, one, providing students with the necessary skills and character to make valuable contributions to society and the local and/or overseas economy when they leave school; two, preparing students to access high-quality jobs or further education when they leave school; and, three, instilling in students the increasing importance of “continuous learning”

2, The ministry to mandate that all teachers from P1 to P6 visit the homes of their pupils at least once and preferably during the first term of the year. This will assist the teacher in:

A, Understanding the environment of their charges

B, Demonstrating the teacher’s interest in the pupil’s learning

C, Helping with discipline, as the child will understand that the teacher has the support of the parent

3. The ministry to mandate that all parents be allowed one day off with pay to visit the classroom of their child’s teacher and spend some time there:

A, Parents can observe their children in the class setting

B, Parents will get an understanding of what a teacher has to endure during the school day

C, Teachers will be forced to prepare the lessons to ensure that parents are suitably impressed

D, Pupils will see that their parents are interested in their learning

4. The ministry to develop a team of inspectors who schedule visits to schools to evaluate all students and principals. A principal to be included in the team.

A, This will encourage teachers to prepare their lessons

B, Ensure that principals manage the schools effectively

C, Give each principal an idea of what is happening in other schools

D, Ensure that student work is inspected and corrected by teachers

5, The ministry to revisit the “special school” concept

6, All newly hired primary schoolteachers be given a basic maths and English test — no explanation necessary

7, A teacher code of conduct be developed with union input

A, This to include a dress and moral code since children mirror adult behaviour and are greatly influenced by their teachers — no more twerking in public

8, The ministry to examine the number of workshops that teachers are required to attend, and slash them in half

A, This will help to ensure that only relevant workshops are mandated and not used as busy work for the teachers at the beginning of the school term

B, This will allow teachers to spend more time in the classroom preparing and teaching

9. The ministry to compile a list of acceptable colleges and universities

A, Teachers who attend other rinky-dink seats of learning not to be employed

10, The ministry to discontinue excessive student testing. Much of the data collected is not used and not entirely understood by teachers, principals and ministry officials anyway

A, Have teachers develop a short, end-of-year test — maths and English — for levels P3 through P5

B, The results of the test to be passed on to the next class teacher for diagnostic purposes

C, The receiving teachers will be able to determine where each child needs reinforcement

NB, It may be too expensive and disruptive to attempt to abolish the middle school concept, which should never have been adopted in the first place, but we suggest that M1 and M2 classes be modified to operate on the lines of the primary schools. Have team teachers at those two levels.