There was a great deal to think about in the talk at church yesterday. Interesting stuff. Apparently we remember, on average, 10% of what we hear, 30% of what we read, and 80% of what we see/do. Teachers will recognise this - you tell a class what to do, show them how to do it, and then they get to do it for themselves and that is when they actually learn the most.
The danger comes when you try and squash the child into a rigid mold, and only allow the parameters you set (in stone) and don't allow them to think laterally and adapt and expand their understanding. So if you ask for a story of one page, and the child develops a story line and keeps going for more than one page, that can be seen as failure to follow instructions, rather than a perhaps signs of a budding talent.
And that is where studying something like Design at school falls down. There is no place for marketing in schools. As in teaching the concepts of marketing to children. They are children, for Heaven's sake. Once upon a time, part of your education included learning practical skills up to a basic level. You would learn to do basic cooking, sewing, woodwork, etc. Now there is no place to learn HOW to actually do any of this. From the age of 11, you start with the concept of a design brief, market research, costing, advertising, manufacturing processes and packaging, health and safety, and marketing. Well, that is a broad outline. I know. I had to teach it. To kids who had no idea how to actually make things at all. And the making was what they wanted desperately to learn. So I ended up with dozens of kids spending their lunch time in my classroom, learning how to make things, and having the time of their lives. That was where the joy came from. My joy.
They will forget the marketing nonsense, you know. They probably forgot it as soon as they left the room. However, in 30 years time, as they sew something, create something, fix something, they will remember where and how they learned it.And can I just say that I had as many boys in to make things, as I did girls. There is a hunger in kids to create.
The DOING is what is important.
To go back to the marketing thingy above - we are creating a nation here who will never know how to make things. The manufacturing industry in the UK is virtually extinct. The concept is based on the idea that the future of the UK's manufactuing lies only in the concept, and then it will be emailed to somewhere like the Far East or Eastern Europe for people to take the design ideas and make them real and tangible.
Apart from being a very dangerous premise, as we lose the ability to be self-sufficient, it ignores the latent talents of generations of the citizens of the country. Where, then, will their creative talents be used? How will they be used? Where is the nurturing of those talents? Are we all so obsessed with costing and time-management that we are ignoring a whole sector of the population? A whole part of each of us?
Not all of us are designed to be the trail blazers of this world. No society has a monopoly on ideas. An even spread of talent creates balance and a feeling of self worth, which is essential for quality of life. Not everyone needs or wants to be chained to a computer and bar charts for the rest of their lives. Not every one is academically gifted. We need to provide areas in education which allow each child to feel that they are good at something. And for a great many, the practical is where they could have had a chance to shine.
I could ramble on for ages. I may yet add more posts on the subject. It is so huge, and so important, and it is something we all need to seriously think about.
Education is now tied up with levels of achievement. A 5 year old is supposed to know what level they have reached, what their target is, and so it goes through the school. Reports can never be negative. Only positive comments are allowed, and grades can never go down. Only up. Even if the child never did the work at all. And no matter how well a child does, your comment has to include a way to improve. For a bright hard-working child, it must be totally soul destroying. You have never done enough. There is no place to just say - "Well done, you are a star!" Imagine that on a report, with a proviso - "however, in order to improve your ( already perfect) grade, you need to......". I would lose the will to live.
So, back to the beginning.... I remember 10% roughly of what I heard yesterday. I read some of the notes I made, and remember 30% roughly of that. Part of that 30% triggered the comparison to teaching, and set off a train of thought, and I have written about those thoughts here. That is the doing bit.
What do they say? Life is a verb.