Mike Vickers' Blog

November 12, 2011

Thoughts on Education

Filed under: Education — derryvickers @ 9:43 pm

Education turned on its head

An interesting article in Time Magazine 1 November 11 on why the US is falling behind in education – secondary education in particular.  The US is only 26th in the global educational scale having fallen from the top.  Top is South Korea, Germany and Finland are up there too.  Why – South Korea is just long hours more years; Finland – the quality of teachers.

The article considers that the US is unlikely to follow either of these.  However a new form of teaching , introduced by one Sal Khan, is being tried and found successful: children bone up the lessons at night on UTube or other video and solve the problems in class with the teachers.  As the article says – it’s turning teaching practice on its head.  An approach certainly worth a try in Scotland.

 Longer at School or Better Teachers

Thinking about an early start to education ,0 -3 years olds; this looks good to me.  I do however note that,  in the article above, the Finns who are right up there in the educational stakes are quoted to start education one year later than the norm but then its is also quoted that teachers are appreciated right up there with the doctors and lawyers – how long ago did  the Scottish dominie aspire to this status?

 A balanced education for all

I was at a meeting organised by the West Lothian Council saying how they intend to help with the rising unemployment of youths 16 – 25.  It’s a problem equally as large in West Lothian as in the big cities.  They  have £2m – not a lot but welcome – to augment youth’s wages in the SME sector, 12 months for the 16 -17 year olds and 6 months for the 18 -25 year olds.

After the meeting, I spoke with a lady who provides cooking service and who has taken on youths for a 6 week training period with wages paid by the Council.  She said that many who come to her are without drive, hope and some can’t even write the simplest sentences – she trains them in the basic skills and after the six weeks many are changed individuals.  But then that’s it – she has no work for them and they are back on the street again – with much more potential, keen but still lacking the professional skills.  Her point was that the Scottish Government pays a fortune providing higher education to those who have the capability to look after themselves – educating them in subjects that they are unlikely to make use of in the real world.  Yet those who can’t look after themselves for whatever reason are left to go back to the gutter.  She has a point.

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