How Does Your Curriculum Measure Up?
Did you see the programme about Korean education? It was fascinating. The students are either in school or an after-school tutorial from 6am – midnight. Every week day! I remember taking a Korean visitor into a Primary classroom. The students were all completely engrossed in their work, so much so that they didn’t even notice us walk in. But the thing that really got him was…
…that they were working in groups all round the classroom. Some sitting at tables, some sitting on tables, some sprawled on the floor. All discussing and listening to each other completely focussed on the practical Maths activity they were doing. At the other end of the spectrum I recently held a Roamer training session for some Finnish teachers in Helsinki (unfortunately I was still in London at the other end of skype!). Finland has just changed its curriculum to be Topic based (remember that UK teachers?!). The students don’t start until they are 6/7 have a short school day and no homework. Now these are two countries whose education systems are held up as models that work. And they could not be more different.
I remember when I was teaching that I always thought that parental involvement was the key. We all know the truism that the parents you want to see at Parents’ Evenings are the ones who don’t turn up. In China and Korea and probably Singapore there is 100% parental involvement. But the ultimate in the concept of parental involvement is Free Schools – this was introduced by Gove based on the Swedish model that they were in the process of abandoning because it didn’t work. And sure enough Free schools just aren’t working.
So what is the answer? I don’t know! All I can tell you is that I do know what works in my classroom and that’s what I tend to focus on and ignore the bigger picture. And I know that Roamer works. This has been illustrated in heartwarming and powerful ways recently. E is now at University after spending a year travelling (she was just starting school when I wrote the first entry of this Blog!) As she meets new people and they get to know her they invariably learn what her father does (Inventor of Roamer). The three responses I remember are “We always knew it would be a good day at school when Roamer came out”, fellow traveller in Vietnam. “Roamer started me on my love for Maths” Maths undergraduate Sheffield University. “I loved Roamer, it got me really interested in Design Technology”, Architecture student, Sheffield University. So we know that Roamer really can have a profound effect upon individual lives and at the end of the day isn’t that what counts?
So while the rest of the world ponders on what makes a good education there is at least one thing you can rely on in your classroom – Roamer!