Tuesday, September 22, 2009

HOW TO FEEL OLD

Tonight I noticed Marcel's new school was having an open night. Given it was due to last nearly 3 hours, I figured it might be interesting to pop along and see how secondary education has changed since my day. Although I have many friends who are high school teachers, I have not really set foot inside a high school since I left back in '85 and most of my career has been spent dealing with the high end of the dictionary ranges aimed more at universities and professionals. Would education have changed any since my day?
It was all a bit of a culture shock. I now know why spelling words like promethean board trips off Charlotte's tongue as easily as black board had done in my day.
The first thing I was surprised by was the emphasis on Internet and the ability to work remotely. By the time they had shown me the work available online, I was beginning to wonder if we were close to the beginning of the end of schools as we know them. Of course for the likes of chemistry, going into school is a necessity but from what I could see, their school website was so interactive, the less practical subjects such as French or Maths could almost be done from home these days! Marcel would just love that - sitting looking at me all day instead of leggy , blonde 12 year old females!
The next thing that struck me compared to my day was the emphasis on building pupils' confidence and self-esteem in a way that positively differed from my day. When I was at school there were some wonderful, nurturing teachers, but there were also the nasty, evil old buggers who took great pleasure in singling out the 'thickies' and publicly humiliating them at every opportunity. Several teachers tonight explained in detail their techniques for getting a measure of their pupils' overall comprehension without the children being aware of their peers' answers in any given question.
The sheer scale of teaching had changed since my day too. The high school I attended was one of the largest back in the 80s but Marcel's felt more like a university department with large lecture theatres and its own 'campus cop'!
I will be logging in to look at the actual work he's being given to see what that's like too (and trying desperately to remember what I learned all those years ago in comparison.)
In general I think I started the day out feeling a bit tired (as usual these days) and ended it feeling positively like a dinosaur.

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