I’m in remedial education

My last child attended ‘kindy-start’ this week. He was needless today excited. So I went along to see him join the ranks. My heart sank as I spotted him sitting in a row, with his first ever workbook. While I fully understand the need to him to learn to read and write – to be educated, I was truly saddened to see that functional literacy was there is fully un-technical, uncreative, unsocial glory. Welcome to education kid, I’m sorry.

We systematically enforce un-arts upon children in order to convince them that more-economically commutable subjects are more important. It is an epidemic it seems. I hate the workbook. In fact anything that isn’t being made and produced by kids and children is a commercial convenience.It’s lazy and requires teachers to subscribe to someone else’s view of how learning occurs (in ways you can buy).

It’s the fundamental problem with education – we are educating kids to take their place in the information economy. To children, there are no ‘electronic resources’ – there are just computers and websites, as there are workbooks and tables. Deal with it in ways other than ignoring it (please).

To compensate for this mentality of workbooks, sitting still and looking at one focus point (the teacher) – is to send the homework back – and use the time to undo the meaningless, uni-structural mehness of primary school homework.

In short, I think it’s important to remediate this lack of creativity and techno logic production that they experience daily. This is kind of scary, as I haven’t not noticed the government attempts to marginalise the arts in favour of batch-produced factory methods around ‘economic’ literacies.

In my last post I mentioned doing a daily. So we are doing that. Let me lay out the horror that has happened. These are all things that you could do cheaply and easy in class too – 10 mins at a time.

  • We watched several episodes of Trap Door on YouTube (a banned site in the minds of public education)
  • Then we went to the shop and bought $10 worth of modelling clay.
  • Then I downloaded a stop motion application for the iPhone – and we played with it for a while, making small videos. Point to note here. I wasn’t holding the camera, just helping them find the application and save the file.
  • Adrian Bruce showed me a great website for Claymation – and Mr9 took a look at that, while Mr5 wanted to make.
  • Mr5 starts making a little monster in clay and Mr9 starts thinking about a background and continues to fiddle with the camera
  • Mr9 comes up with a story: based on his current raid activity in WoW to beat the headless horseman
  • We watch a headless horseman video on BannedTube

I could go on listing steps, but the point here is that all I had to do was find something interesting to do. I didn’t make anything new, but followed what they are interested in, and provided support on things that they didn’t know. So in a few 10 minute bursts of creativity – they know what animation is, they know what claymation is, they know how it is made, they know technologies role in assisting it, and they know a new story – and more importantly that animated films are a way to tell stories.

This is the kind of thing that must happen in classrooms – to have a goal and then to have teachers who are able to use technology (and have access to it) so that they can help kids reach their goals. Is the goal is to complete the workbook?- to pass the test? – to split kids into academic and non-academic (those who study theoretical are better that those who study practical).

I know that no matter how ‘academic’ my kids become, no matter what marks they get though tests and essays – unless they are inventive or creative – they will be excluded from future jobs and experiences that demand it. I’d be happy for the govenment to give me a guarantee that if I accept their view, that this won’t happen of course.

Imagine the daily damage being done, not by technology, but by the insisting that to be a ‘good learner’ you must not collaborate, not be creative, not think differently and play – but learn the information is in the book and the answers at the back. Even without technology – the systems is insane.

8 thoughts on “I’m in remedial education

  1. This is how I feel too.

    Miss 4 will start Kindy at an International school in Denmark, in August next year, when she is 5. I wonder what the education will be like for her a world away. I suspect, not what you have outlined but something similar to the traditional is what awaits – we will see and one hopes for something more.

  2. Really enjoyed your post, and agree wholeheartedly.. alot of anti-creativity out there.. so stifling, and oh so wrong as we will need all the creative, innovative and wondering we can get in this uncertain future of ours… your a good Dad..

  3. Great post! So good to see kids learning for themselves. I weep for Mr 10 months and the future suffering he will endure at the hands of the Education Dept – good, well intentioned teachers notwithstanding. I’ll be spending a lot of time in the next few years working hard to make his home life enriching and helping him to learn to be himself – surely the most important thing for anyone.

  4. I am a teacher (secondary not primary) and I agree whole heartedly with your lament! Luckily, I am employed at a small Montessori school which gives me the freedom to combine my love of technology and my love of teaching. This month I am going to use the game designing program you have been blogging on with my students, or rather in the Montessori way, I am offering this activity as part of my unit. My students will have the freedom to choose which aspect of ICT they wish to explore and how they wish to display their knowledge. I’m guessing at least a few of them will design a game, so thanks for bringing it to my attension.

    In return I wonder whether I might bring Montessori schools to your, if they have them where u are? Not all schools will have an emphasis on technology, but tye do have an emphasis on creativity and student centred learning. Each student completes tasks in their own time and their own way.

    Regardless I am enhjoying your blog and have gotten a wide range of great ideas! Thanks for sharing😀

  5. You are right of course. For the last two years I have watched in horror as the curriculum and my school has squashed the creativity and capability of my Year 7 English students – within weeks of being inducted into the secondary school regime. I have been forced to teach to the program and prepare students for the test – whole school exams no less!! I cannot do it. I failed my own children, but I will not fail anyone else’s children in this way any more. Creativity in isolated bursts cannot make up for ridiculous program teaching, when everyone must stop/start at the same time. How sad it is. Let’s face it – even people as amazing as Stephen Heppell with all the evidence and experience he brings to the education scene hasn’t been able to stop this rubbish. What chance have I got to ‘buck the system’? Clearly I have none! Your kids are lucky that you are there to temper the damage.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. i have a mr 2 and mr 8months and i hope that things will change before they get to school. Interestingly my eldest already refers to everything he does as a “game” and he doesn’t even play computer games…yet. i guess the idea that learning something is fun is already there!
    As a teacher, i am beginning to ask myself what i can do to bypass/supplement what is going as “education” at the moment in order to make the future that they need.

  7. Loved this post and it has helped me redefine how I’ll help our own child at home. We have relatively creative child who does not like “Art”; it seems that art needs to be done a particular way in her classroom. At school she hates writing but comes home and sometimes types stories when she is bored. She too gets the same old same old in terms of “projects” but I have been trying to show her other ways of doing it. She is starting to listen and so now I will, for her sake and mine, embark on a stopmotion journey.
    Thanks as always for helping me think.

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