A new approach to education
The system urgently needs to be reformed, and ‘higher levels of learning’ may hold the key
CONVENTIONAL staff would question the mixed grade schooling guideline of a previous article in Education Watch. When a mixed-grade group of students are exposed to higher levels of learning (HLL) in a step-by-step manner, they are excited to see how the different ages manage to master the skills.
Often a maths and physics teacher completes an example on the board and then gives a test, only to find that few have understood.
The problem is that as the teacher completes the answer, the children miss a step. I found that when I take a mixed group, divide the board in half, having my example on the left and their test on the right, and allow them to apply each step of the test as I do on the example marking each step, they all get it right, and beg for more.
If we record their class achievements daily and give them an average mark for their subjects at the end of term, they would pass.
This would be a true reflection of their ability.
One now sees that conventional classroom teaching negatively impacts on pupil performance, and that quarterly exams are not representative of children’s abilities, but rather an indication of problematic educational systems. Conventional class teachings and examinations are thus barriers two and three, one being peer group grades. The fifth barrier to quality learning at school is periods.
When the children are just about to understand, the bell rings, and the teacher takes many weeks to recap what the bell disrupted.
If a class is allowed to exercise a skill until they master it without disturbing the flow of learning, the results will drastically improve and the syllabus will be completed faster.
Homework will be illuminated and study time will increase. You now see that even homework, which we conventionally regard as necessary, is also a barrier to learning because only the enfranchised can really do it in comfort.
I took a group of the most disruptive Grade 9 pupils at a school and applied the advice I give in these articles. I did all the subjects with them, without period interventions. They learnt faster and completed the commons tasks for assessment first. A total of 99% of them passed to Grade 10. I still meet some of them, who now hold good jobs.
They say if it was not for that year’s experience of HLL, they would have been gangsters and drug addicts today. So if my advice could work for disruptive learners, then good children will excel.
We have a high failure rate and departments raise marks to get a national “historical pass”, as one professor puts it, when questioned about the manipulation of marks. Children know the marks are adjusted and hence give bare minimum input, which leaves tertiary institutes and companies calling for better-skilled applicants.
What I am pointing out is that there are structural problems in education.
One of the most disturbing, demotivating and simply destructive barriers to quality education is the department’s trial-and-error changes in the curriculum and assessment criteria. The most embarrassing change of assessment criteria was done at the end of 2016, on the final day of mark verification. The pass percentage for maths was dropped to 20%. This was a national joke.
These kinds of manipulations of marks to “keep the historical pass rate”, the real devalued matric certificates, the 65% of South African youth unemployment and the increase in the youth suicide rate, demand of us as a nation to call for the abandonment of examinations and the application of
Holistic Curriculum-related Reflections for all children with its depth, breadth and integration of all subjects combined with all its values-based content is perfect for reforming education.
Giving the state the authority to manipulate the education of our children is irresponsible of parents, business leaders and civil society.
Research shows that by disturbing the educational security of society, increasing the energy costs and unemployment, society disintegrates through fearfulness and hopelessness, and starts becoming prejudiced against people of different nationalities and religions for self-survival. This is presently happening in America.
The changing of curricula and assessment criteria – sometimes during the year – through department circulars, shows a lack of vision, professionalism and quality leadership. It is like moving the goal posts every time a soccer team is running with the ball. Teachers cannot develop their subject to its fullest because they have to ignore sometimes core aspects of the subject to satisfy assessment criteria. The teachers are demotivated, because they are thrown around and kept haweloos.
Parents and businesses can choose HLL for progress as a start.
OFTEN a maths or physics teacher completes an example on the board and then gives a test, only to find that few pupils understand it. daily recording of successes of children for an average assessment mark at the end of the year.The knowledge of my