Interesting talk about how physiological development in the brain affects decision-making and empathy in teenagers. Nothing too new, attended a similar lecture by Otago University vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne in 2010. Still a good refresher.
Very much enjoyed the conversation thread about what people weren’t taught in school but thought they should have been.
Comments range from schools needing to focus on social skills more and focus less on job skills to teaching financial literacy and the psychology of human relationships (good luck with that one).
I think NZ schools are leaders in teaching critical thinking skills despite having a heavily summative approach to assessment. Primary schools in particular are good at providing opportunities for inquiry-based learning. One Dunedin school uses the future problem solvers website with its students to give them real life problems to work on. This is also an opportunity to teach social skills through working in groups, with the community etc. If the teacher is not skilled enough to ensure some degree of focus (and guidance over the diplomacy of group work), the associated learning can lose some relevance. And some teens get to secondary school and find it hard to adjust to the more defined approach to content – i.e less scope for inquiry based learning, especially in senior years. Again not the teachers’ choice.
I don’t know a single teacher who enjoys teaching to the test but if the Government is hell-bent on comparing apples and pears to pander to some misguided middle-class perceptions (misconceptions?) about what makes a “good” school and what “success” is, then I guess that becomes the default. This is especially true in an economic recession when teaching jobs are scarce, competition for vacancies is fierce, schools regularly cannibalise each other for staff and students (in the south anyway) and then the Government signals moves towards performance-based pay (based on apples and pears based league tables) It’s all so wrong.
And as for social skills – some valid points there. I do worry about the role of parents and whanau. My sons’ school spends a lot of time teaching core values to its pupils – kindness, honesty etc. Wouldn’t it be better if children arrived at school with those values instilled from home and a couple of years quality ECE? Ah well, back on planet Earth! Now back to those dreadful teens…