Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Why a National Curriculum won't fix the woes of a school education

On my Homeschool Australia Frequently Asked Questions Yahoo group recently Rebecca wrote:
"I have found that schools can be a bit "one size fits all". In the cloths industry 'one size fits all' certainly doesn't fit all, so why should it be any different in the school system."

This started a train of thought that led to the implementation of a National Curriculum, and how effective it would be in achieving the goals the politicians and educationalists set out.

And how many times have we tried on a size 14 in one style or shop and then another size 14 somewhere else and they were completely different sizes? I've found this to be especially true with shoes. My menfolk have found that within the one make, on the one shelf, one size of boot can vary from a size to small too as size too large.

Even if the National Curriculum goes ahead and is embraced by all states and all schools there will still be huge differences in how the curriculum is applied at the school and classroom level. How a topic is taught and what children will learn from it won't be uniform even within schools, as is presently the case, as each teacher teaches differently.

The 'one size fits all' issue within the school system is not that students are taught the same material in the same way, but that students are treated as though they all learn in the same way. It is impractical for schools to offer students learning programs based on their learning styles and needs suited to the individual developmental progress. What happens is that schools aim at a median - somewhere
below the average ability of the class, so that everyone more or less progresses at the same rate in a manageable way.

I can't see that changing while the teacher to student ratio remains economically viable. It's my opinion that to teach using individual learning programs we need a ratio closer to six students per adult, for all age groups.

That's one reason why home education is so successful - the children have contact with many more adults that schooled children do. The idea that homeschooled children are cooped up with only one adult throughout the week is a by and large a myth. Yes, it does and can happen, but it hasn't stopped school of the air students from becoming successful and well-adjusted adults - that system of education/socialisation has been accepted by the community for a century.

© Beverley Paine

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