Let’s fix the Primary stage of the education system
Fri June 28, 2013
To transfer knowledge to the brain, it is paramount that some basic concept of how the brain processes information be taken into consideration. The latter is rather easy. Have you ever wondered why children are far better at quickly learning new technology like computers, video games, DVD players et cetera when compared to adults? It is because at that stage of their lives, principles are easily learnt, because all knowledge is “new knowledgeâ and there is little bias or competing analysis. As we grow older, everything we learn is based on things or principles that we have already learnt and we have already established what is possible or impossible. That is why as adults, we compare meat to chicken and hardly ever traverse established boundaries.
The problem with attempting to teach our children complex principles before they master basic ones, is that it makes it almost impossible for them to understand extensions of those principles or new ones, because they donât have a proper foundation for comparison.
We all use the term “back to first principlesâ or “getting back to basicsâ when we find ourselves in a tight spot and it is true. When you master the basic understandings, you are nearly unstoppable, because when you have some difficulty, you can use those basic principles to navigate obstacles. If children in primary schools are instructed to master the basic principles, it makes the process significantly easier for the student and whosoever is charged with further learning; in this case the secondary school teachers.
The curriculum that exists for our primary schools is new, but has not really helped. Actually it may be even more challenging for the student and family as they now have a significant number of home based work that is more like an assessment of the parents and guardians rather than the student (I endorse the fact that parents and guardians must play a significant role in their childrenâs education). My seven-year-old has homework that without my university education I would have difficulty understanding and therefore be able to assist. My view is that I want my child to be far more advanced in knowledge than I am, but without basic first principles, how would she navigate future stages of education. Even worse is the fact that the students who donât have a family member with an advanced education in the home would obviously suffer from not having assistance. We are already seeing that the top performers have one thing in common â family members with higher learning achievements.
I donât believe that our childrenâs learning capability or capacity is less than those from Germany, Japan, India, the UK and Canada, but we give that impression by the percentage of students who have not attained a passing grade at our CEE. The PRIMARY education system MUST remember that it is what it signifies. It is the PRIMARY stage of education and let the secondary stage of education take care of its part. It must be difficult for a secondary school teacher to have to work with a student that has difficulty with basic reading and comprehension that should have been addressed and mastered at the primary level.
Many would attest that the “Education Revolutionâ has made a significant difference to a system that was already broken. It is true that there must be many persons who have benefitted from the Education Revolution. Repairing the flat tires on a nonfunctioning car can go a long way in making it road worthy, but getting the engine working and well-tuned must never be discounted. The primary school education is the engine of the “Education Revolutionâ so let us fix it.