Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are school systems preparing our children for the real world

Are school leavers ready for life after school? Are they academically proficient and work skilled on the same level? Home life and high school provide both security and predictability, but in the time immediately after, our young people are left to their own devices. Unfortunately they don't always have the right information, especially when they make critical decisions, sometimes in the heat of the moment. I'm not convinced that our approach to the transition between school and life thereafter is working, or that it ever has. This then leads to the question of who should be taking responsibility, is it the parents? The learners themselves? Teachers? Or our educational system as a whole.

The world is constantly changing, and grows in complexity with each new day. So it is vitally important that our children understand how it works from a very early stage. They should have access to all the information we can give them. Even though the sheer volume of information has made it difficult for anyone to offer clear perspective on life choices and the right places to source information. Are educators also restricted by the demands and confines of the curriculum? Education has numerous academic checks and balances, yet there is no measurement of how well we've prepared our learners for the real world.

Do you think the local school systems are preparing our children for the future?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Education and teachers, what's your take?

We need a national debate on education. At the moment we are driving down a unknown road without a map, we don't know where we are going exactly, what point we're at, how far we have to go or where our destination is. What kind of education system do we want? What is the purpose of our education system?

We talk equality but we implement differentiation, so in reality we have a two-tiered school system. What do business and industry want out of education? What do parents want? We are also confusing schooling with education and that is having a negative impact on basic education. There should be rigorous systems of accountability. We need to determine clearly defined standards of behaviour and performance and then place measures of accountability, and make sure that teachers and principals live up to them. Such monitoring and evaluation cannot be conducted by the teachers themselves, but must be undertaken by external, independent bodies and the community that uses the school. If our education system is to be competitive and productive, then we have to have standards that must be maintained.

This means improving district structures as well. One of our problems is that policy is set at national level and supposedly implemented at provincial level, but with provinces excluded from policy making, there is little interest in delivery. This in turn defeats and degrades the concept of policy. A more genuinely de-centralised system would promote much greater community involvement and school level accountability.

A further problem lies not only in the massive backlog of teachers, but also the low erosion rate of teachers and principals. When these professionals stay in one place for long periods, it becomes extremely difficult to implement any kind of change. This also leads to the culture shock awaiting new teachers trained with modern methods who are confronted with stubborn resistance to change by established teachers who often use out-dated methods and poor work practices, they don't know how to overcome this so they frequently either resign or give up and adopt. A starting point would need to be a detailed and realistic national plan on education. This will allow us to start getting the basic blocks in place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What the new year has in store

The holiday season has come and gone. The new year is here!

Teachers need to be prepared for the new term, the new year and the influx of eager learners excited to learn and start the year in a new grade. It is imperative that teachers adopt a pro-active, positive approach to managing the challenges of the new year in an effort to ensure that learners become the best that they can be.

Enthusiasm for your role as a teacher and preparation are the key to making 2012 a success. Learners are looking up to you for guidence and help to reach their academic goals. As an educator you need to realize how important your role is in creating the leaders of tomorrow.

Work together with learners, colleagues, parents and the broader community to make this another year of teaching excellence as every contribution counts.