Wednesday, 14 October 2009

following on from Sir Terry Leahy class discussion ...

I have just caught an interview on the lunchtime news regarding Sir Terry Leahy's comments n the poor products of the education system. Ian Cheshire (Chief Exec. of the Kingfisher Group, who own, amongst others, B&Q), in part backed the notion that many children are leaving schools without 'Employability skills'. Unlike Sir Leahy, he didn't lay the blame solely at the feet of the education system. He claims that a lack of social skills is also to blame. Many children (and adults) lack good interview, communication and basic skills. He (Ian Cheshire) discussed the notion that many children now do not have a Saturday or part-time job, an outlet that would provide the opportunity to develop many 'life-skills'.

Does our curriculum allow time for the development of said skills? As Clare commented, many teachers face the prospect of a rigorously time-tabled day to accommodate the National Curriculum's prescribed outcomes? for thought.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Brians homework - Curriculum model for the 21st Century

My previous blog threw around some ideas concerning the structure of the school day. Although I still feel that for many parents (especially ones in employment), the constraints of 9am - 3pm prove problematic. Through the promotion and implementation of Extended Schools, the Government has recognised the need for extension of the school day. Although this is not a solution for all, and certainly not the initial reasoning behind the scheme, the logistics of organising the structure of a school day to suit all shift patterns, work rotas and employment types would be impossible. This not mentioning being counter productive to the education of the children attending the establishment.

I feel that the way to look forward is by looking back. The importance of education has progressed through the passage of time, mostly as a by-product of the society in which it dwelled. Compulsary education for 5-10year olds came into effect in 1880 following The Forster Act. Government recognised that for national progression, economic growth and global positioning, the United Kingdom needed to educated its' children. Children were 'taught' what they needed to thrive within their community. This is not a negative by all means, as in 1976 PM Callaghan also made clear that the purpose of education was to "equip children to fulfill a constructive place in society, and also to fit them to do a job of work". Enabling our children to survive in society is paramount, to me, to all that was recognised in 1880.

In my opinion, preparing children for the society in which the live is equally as important as aideing them in learning how to read, write and manage artithmatic (the three componants of education that have remainded constant). Do not mistake me, I believe strongly that the latter are fundamental skills that are required in day to day living. I also strongly believe that learning life skills such as problem solving in real situations (ie moral dilemmas, shopping tasks, journey planning) is a massivley important area. An area that can either stand alone or support an academic area. The difficulty in this task - a curriculum for the 21st century - is tapering everything down to subjects. Learning, especially in primary classrooms, comes from a multitude of media. Pinpointing one educational outcome from one 'input device' is not possible.

Returning to the structure of the schoolday, although I have no substansiating evidence, I do have a strong opinion on younger children having more academic sessions after lunch. My child, and many I am aware of, hit the 'lunch-time lag' post 12.30pm. I can speak from experience that the outcome of some tasks is measurabley different post lunchtime than prior to lunch. Tying in with learning life skills, I would propose that academic topics/subjects that have been taught during morning sessions can be complimented and supported with more practical and 'real-life' session in the afternoon. Many learning areas covered in extended schools include such tasks. If they are deemed important, they should be implemented into the classroom so all children get benefit from them.

As in history, society has dictated 'what we need' to survive. It is therefore that I say I would argue with confiction that the education provided in the 21st century reflect the 21st century itself.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

21st Century curriculum (?)

Firstly I must state that I am just playing around with ideas at the moment. I'm doing it publically so as to invite any input others wish to offer (and for which I will be extremely grateful).

Intially I am not going to look at the content of what I believe to be an appropriate curriculum for the 21st century, but more at the way day-to-day schooling is organised / structured. A (primary) school day for many begins at 9.00am and ends at 3.15pm, with a break for lunch at approximately 12.30ish.

I'm now calling on the extpertise of parents out there. Do your children seem more alert and aware prior to the 'lunch time lag'?

Although the curriculum covers a wide array of subjects, inevitally some academic subjects will be scheduled for the afternoon 'slots'.

Speaking purely as a mother of a 6 year old, I know that after lunch he will not be ready for heavy academia.

Returning to the 'timing' of the school day. How many parents have a 9.15am - 3pm job? Do we all work within the constraints of school hours? Do we all work part time?

Im just trying to build a picture. We recognise that society is changing - we are becoming more involved and reliant on ICT. For this reason, we are incorporating it into early learning - and this is found to be acceptable.

Would it be acceptable to presume that in early years many children perform more positively during morning sessions?

Like I said, this is an idea in it's infancy. I need to research it further.

Please get involved, I would love to hear any thoughts (they dont have to be supported by theory / fact / research either.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

hyperlinks - thanks Kat x

Access to moodle - check
Warwick log in sorted - check
Athens log in sorted - check
Blogging - check
Virginmedia tv working - +&*#$! - er, i mean uncheck
Target child secured - check
Older person identified - check
Hyperlinks - YEY - check

Thanks once again to the knowledge sharing within our group, I am now able to hyperlink successfully within text. Oooh, lets look at Lin's blog.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Jargon - mumbo jumbo or valid language?

After digesting the Childlink glossary (posted by Ihar), and the comment (on Ihar's blog) left by Lin, I have settled on the conclusion that there is a difference between jargon and terminology. This, I hasten to add, is my personal opinion based on a minimal amount of information.

My Dad, who was a wizz with all things mechanical, technological and worked within and alongside engineering teams on some pretty large scale projects, was a stickler for terminology. If an item of machinery had a specific name, then use it. If you required the precise tool to complete a task, ask for it by its correct name. He was very much of the opinion that using the correct terminology reduced confusion and promoted good working practice. An opinion I share. Surely if a surgeon needs a scalpel, he asks for a scalpel, not for 'one of those sharp pointy things'. A flippant example, but you get what I mean. This is what I would class as terminology. Relating this to Early Years, I feel that it is just as important. Possibly to persons not working within a school / social work setting an IEP is just three meaningless letters. For teachers and parents involved with a child with an IEP it is self explanatory. It is using the correct name for the tool.

Jargon, to me, is used to confuse people. My Nan, who is 83 years young, very often asks me to explain her mail to her because of all the "gobbledygook". Often, once all the 'jargon' has been filtered, the letters are self-explanatory. I believe that it is a tactic used to confuse, worry and often intimidate people. For example (using terminology relating to early years), if a parent was to receive communication from a school reading...

...following the LISM regarding the SpLD of 'X', it is the intention of the school to introduce 'X' to the SENCo. Inline with DSCF guidelines an IEP will be formulated for 'X'. Your assigned IPS will contact you shortly... would be fair to assume that some degree of confusion and uncertainty would be felt. Although the intention of the school would be to inform not perplex, using the correct terminology in this instance would possibly not be the most effective procedure.

I'm in agreement with Lin, that 'dumbing down' of the terminology used is counter productive to the training of new teachers / social workers etc... however, I think that differentiation between terminology and jargon needs to be identified and integrated into the learning of communication practices.

Returning to the title of this blog, I think I have expressed my view (which will be subject to change following further reading) on jargon / terminology. However, there is a generation that has developed it's own language - text (or txt) speak. Is this form of language soon to be incorporated into everyday language? mmm.... i'd best sign off before I head off at a tangent that I don't think I need to.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Birmingham Post - News - West Midlands News - Mum claimed tragic Khyra Ishaq was 'possessed', court hears

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Although it had been my intention this past few days to revisit the reports of Robin Alexander and Sir Jim Rose (as requested by Brian), I have found that in light of recent reports in the press; Vanessa George and Birmingham Social Sevices, my thoughts are yet again with children who have suffered, some irretrievably, at the hands of so called parents, carers and professionals. Prior to my 'rant' I suppose, I will add that I am fully aware that I have possibly not read all the details of these cases, and that my views have, in essence, been based on the media surrounding each case. Although I aim to look using an objective lens, as a human being, equipped with free thought and emotion, it is not always possible.

In response to a link Clare posted on facebook reporting on the horrendous crimes of Vanessa George and her associates, I commented that I did not want to publish my thoughts, certainly not in an open forum such as facebook. In reflection, I feel this was because, in truth, I think that her and her 'friends' are hideous, dangerous animals who have preyed on the vulnerability of babies and children just for 'kicks'. In my eyes, people like this do not deserve help, rehabilitation or even life - do to them what we do to other sick animals, quick injection and its all over. I am not ashamed of harbouring such feelings about these persons, but, possibly because of the nature of the career I wish to embark on, and being aware of the power of social networking sites, I felt it was best not to air my views there. One factor that hit me whilst reading the numerous reports surrounding this case, is the background each paper, from the sun to the times, has used for Vanessa George. In brief, she did not have the best upbringing, her father left her mother when she was young, they lived pretty much hand to mouth etc... Yes, this may be true, but is it an excuse? Does the general public (or Government) feel that such a background makes these crimes acceptable? Explanationable? Similarities to the mother of Baby P?

The link above relates to one of the cases being highlighted by a report into the poor standards of Birmingham Social Services, Khyra Ishaq. Again, another horrific read. Although social services were aware of the family, nothing was done to help the children, until it was too late. Surely withdrawing a child from school, refusing to let teachers, social workers and even police persons in to your property should ring some blummin big bells! Similarities have been drawn with the Climbe case - primarily the child being possessed. Again, is this another excuse Government are willing to accept?

Don't think this blog has a purpose other than for me to have a bit of a rant (one that it very un-objective at that). Does it make me feel any better? No, because give it a month or so and there will be yet another damning report into another social services department, school, hospital following the death of yet more helpless children.