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.