Friday, September 09, 2011

Truancy equals benefits cut

The latest wheeze from our illustrious masters is to cut the benefit of those whose children are constantly truant. I find this interesting coming from the Conservative party when a much simpler and Party philosophically correct answer is more readily available - rescind compulsory education.

Why is it a matter of law that children between the ages of 5-16 be in full-time education?  If it's a case of teaching them the 'three basics' of reading, writing and arithmetic then the majority should be able to leave at age 11 or not be allowed to leave at all. If it's about instilling in them basic societal traits then having a compulsory unpaid 'job' with several months worth of holiday I think cannot be considered a good example.

So what purpose is served by compulsory education? It can be said that it's a benefit to our society as a whole by ensuring our country is filled with people with at least the bare minimum of education; except as I've said that's accomplished by age 11 or under; besides that's wishy-washy socialist nonsense that a Conservative government shouldn't have any truck with. It prevents employing minors as in the bad/good old days (delete as appropriate), but we have other laws in place. It keeps kids off the streets and allows both their parents to work, but with unemployment at the rate it is that's hardly a necessity and besides there are those wonking great breaks which screws eveything up.

Consider if education wasn't necessary beyond the three basics. Provided a child can demonstrate those there is no legal requirement for them to be educated further. So schools would be filled with only those who wanted to be there. Sure a parent could attempt to insist a child attend school, but should the child not want to it would be up to them to try to keep them there.

Now to stop the schools being closed down it can be continued that the state has a duty to provide education for those who wish it.  With a possibility of less pupils the schools can downsize or merge; as I've mentioned elsewhere an opportunity arises for specialist school areas that allow a school to hire any specialised rooms and/or teachers for those lessons that require specialist equipment. Schools would shrink, but we might end up with more of them each competing to stay relevant and funded by the state (which would remove the top-up fees currently being mooted).

For those adults who chose not to take advantage of education as children and now regret it evening classes can also be run in the same manner as they are currently.

Anyone see any flaws or disadvantageous outcomes?


Orphi said...

Everybody hates school. If there was a choice, nobody would ever go to school. And think what a disaster that would be…

FlipC said...

However that poses the question - why don't children like school?

Because it's boring, dull, and they could be doing something far more interesting. Except it needn't be any of those things. As it stands there's little requirement to make education fun as by law it's mandatory.

Make learning fun, make the kids want to attend, make it socially the 'thing to do' not just at that age but at every age so that "school" isn't seen as something that can be finally done away with once adulthood is reached.

It needs a damn big shake-up.

Orphi said...

Oh hell, forget legislation; if you could make it so that people of all ages actually want to learn stuff, you would be onto a huge winner. It seems that in this day and age, being an idiot is hip and trendy. Studying is for losers. I don't know how that happened, but until it changes, don't expect miracles…

FlipC said...

And the best way to do that is to catch them young.

Let's look at the two prongs that might have caused this. Prong 1: Someone in class is falling behind the others; they don't like this so they either a) withdraw form or b) lash out at those causing this feeling. If they do lash out this will reduce the entire class as they know they're going to get their 'medicine' later for being a smart arse in class.

Prong 2: Equality. No-one's stupid and everyone can be a winner. Your views are just as valid as everyone else's.

How to make it fun? Incentivise. Start a new year with everyone at level zero and award points. Rather than letter grades assign points that go towards levelling up. Now rather than make it purely competitive (and thus back to prong 1) Those points go towards a class total; and those class points go towards a year total.

If the year total is above X points then on the last week of term that year gets, um let's say, ice-cream; with the highest class picking the flavour.

Within the class use the traffic light system so that each student can show their level of understanding of the current subject and reward other pupils who can explain it to those not getting it in a different way than the teacher.

So everyone wants to get the points for their class and while encouraging competition between such they also don't want to sabotage the other class' efforts as their scores are also needed.

At the same time not understanding isn't a stigma because others can get points for helping which helps everyone.

Orphi said...

Getting them while they're young is definitely key. On the other hand, it seems difficult to see how you can change the attitudes of the next generation while they're still surrounded by the current one…

It's a very rare thing to hear something insightful on a talk show. But, just once, I did hear somebody on one such show say something that made me stop and think. Some parent arguing with the head teacher of some obscure school. The exchange went something like

“We don't play competitive sports at our school.”
“Don't you believe in challenging children?”
“We do believe in presenting children with strong challenges. However, we believe that children should be taught that their success needn't come at the expense of anybody else.”

In short, rather than challenge children to beat each other, challenge them to better themselves.

(How you make that work in the real world is another matter, of course.)

FlipC said...

Exactly. That's what I'd hope my layout would accomplish. By removing grades and giving points even the single pointers are contributing to both the class and year totals (think of Neville Longbottom at the end of the first Harry Potter book)

Likewise although there's still some small amount of competition between classes it should be productive in that any class losing points hurts the entire year. You don't want the other class to fail you want to succeed better.