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

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