Sunday, 29 December 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: The New School

You get to redesign school as we know it from the ground up. Will you do away with reading, writing, and arithmetic? What skills and knowledge will your school focus on imparting to young minds? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SKILLED.

If you were a bee, you would not have to go to school. It is all in the gene, you got it from mama, who got it from her mama and so on. Being a human we arrive with nothing and it all has to be supplied by a teaching system.

We start with home life, mum and dad telling you what to do and what not to do, but mum and dad do not always know the answers, so we eventually go to a place called school and then the problems begin. My mum was one of those completely convinced that “your school days are the best of your life”. As mum left school at the age of 13 to work in a place where she sorted foreign bank notes that were printed in England, I do not think her school days were long enough to stay in her memory.

My grandfather was apparently thrown out of school (mum’s dad) for swearing at the teacher. I can believe this, although whether this was a family story, or if it really happed I do not know. It seems his spare time in the evening was spent watching the men at the corner of the street gambling and their language was quite flowery at times, so this was the reason (said my mum).

Eventually I went to school. Being born in the so-called “boom” year of 1946 when the masculine population in England returned from the war, we were on average 40-50 children in a school class, so it was survival of the fittest. I survived, battling against discouragement and arrived at a high school.

The idea is now to redesign school. Who am I to do this? I was once in the position in Switzerland of teaching English at evening classes, having an English mother tongue. Sounds easy, but believe me it is not. Of course I grew up speaking English so the basics were there. Unfortunately I had never had a pedagogical training. I was not in charge of the class to show them what I could do, but to impart my knowledge so that the class would learn. My class liked me, but I realised what was missing on my side. I did this for a year, but decided being a teacher was not my thing.

So now I have my own school, the children being the victims of my training. Where to start?

“Good morning, I am your new teacher. There are going to be a few changes in your timetable. Today we are beginning with a new subject known as “Blogging”.

“What’s that Miss?”

“You do not know what blogging is. You have never written a blog? This is a large gap in your general education. Today it is a matter of survival to be able to blog. How many of your have a computer at home?

Very nice, I see you are all fully equipped. Any Mac owners here? Two – ok no problem, all . basically the same thing.

Is anyone in Facebook? All of you. You see we are already half way there. Do you even post photos in Facebook? What did you say Johnny, your mother forbid you to use the computer because you showed a photo of your mother in her dressing gown with curlers in her hair. That was not nice Johnny, you should have asked before showing the photo to all your faceboook friends. Do you have many? Oh I see, well with a thousand friends, perhaps your mother was not happy.

To continue. Blogging is something like Facebook, but you have more room to say what you want. I will give you a subject and you will write an article in Word this evening about it and load it onto a memory stick. Tomorrow you will bring the sticks and I will show you on the school computer how to insert them in a special blogging programme. You may use photos to illustrate the blog.

Would anyone here like to suggest a subject?”

“Yes Miss, what about my day at school.”

“A good idea Mary. Remember you are writing for the public so make it interesting.”

They made it so interesting with photo illustrations of me that I lost my job. Education is just not my thing.

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  1. Do away with reading, writing and arithmetic? Quite the opposite. I would reinforce it a lot more. The education standards in the UK are becoming appalling. So many youngsters are leaving school with barely a grasp of these basics, their chance of getting employment, in many cases, is virtually non-existent.

    1. That is also my own opinion Mitch, but living in Switzerland did not want to say it. I like the Swiss system, you go to school and eventually either do an apprenticeship or study further. Although apprenticeships are becoming difficult to find, the possibility is there and you are afterwards qualified for a job.