Millions of students returned to school this month to face the ritual of lessons and assessments. Is it just about examining students and awarding them grades or should it have a wider purpose?
Education should be about students learning concepts that they can use in life and or relate to events in the world. Last month’s GCSE results showed that 58.4% of students received A* – C grades in Mathematics compared to 58.8% in 2011. I suspect that these results would have been higher if students felt more enthusiastic about studying Mathematics if they felt they could use topics like Pythagorean Theorem in their everyday lives. How many times have you or a class mate questioned the value of learning something that you will probably not use again in your life? While abstract theories are important to help us explain and understand what we learn and appreciate the independent critical thinking need to create them, practical ideas can make education seem more worthwhile and give us the opportunity to explore the topic in further detail. Learning about health care in the United States at De Montfort University seemed relevant because of the contentious debate between Democrats and Republicans about President Barack Obama’s health care law. This encouraged me to follow the debate very closely by watching academic seminars on C-Span, an American cable television network, which gave me the contemporary knowledge to deliver an effective presentation on it.
Time management skills are developed in college and higher education. Because sixth formers and undergraduates have coursework to complete and examinations to prepare for, they must use their time effectively to ensure that they meet these deadlines. It evidently helps prepare students for entering the workplace as a study published by the University of Kent showed that ‘time management’ is one of the top ten skills that employers want from their employees. Moreover, learning how to spend time wisely allows us to become strategic individuals because we can assess whether we should prioritise reading a book over playing a computer game and vice versa.
Marielle O’Neill who holds a BA in English and a MA in British Politics said that time management was critical during an internship in Washington D.C.
“As an Intern in Washington D.C., time-management skills were crucial. As I was interning for a lobbying organisation, volunteering at a museum and studying Congressional Politics, I needed to make sure I was using my time most effectively.
She added: “I was able to do this by setting myself mini-goals, ensuring clear lines of communication at work and relying on the support and advice of friends.”
We learn to deal with students with different personalities. Some students may be troublesome and others may be cooperative. For a coursework assignment, I had to deliver a PowerPoint presentation to my seminar group about the achievements of the 112th United States Congress with a female American exchange student. I argued that we should have short slides so we could expand on these points and retain the attention of our audience, but she disagreed. So we reached a compromise and decided that half of the presentation would consist of my shorter slides and the rest of it would be her longer slides. As a result, we delivered a well received presentation by our lecturer and classmates which prove that reaching common ground can achieve an outcome that satisfies all parties. While the presentation feedback said that some of the “PowerPoint’s were a little busy”, this experience taught us that if we face a similar situation again, our education has given us the skills to know how to handle it.
Cleland Thom, Director of Cleland Thom Journalism Training, one of the UK’s biggest media distance e-learning colleges said: “No-one is born to be mediocre. Education should enable each person to
identify their unique dream and purpose in life, and give them the skills and the knowledge to reach, and exceed, their fullest potential.”
Fundamentally, education allows us to discover who we are. We discover the subjects we are good at and whether we prefer doing more practical activities like carpentry rather than writing essays, which helps us decide what career path to follow. Some students may adjust to education from their first day in primary school, by conducting themselves well, achieving good grades and playing a role in at least one society. This is to be commended because it prepares them for becoming decent and productive members of their community and country. Although, others may begin school behaving badly and uninterested in their education, they can be given support by their school, parents or guardians to change their attitude towards school and identify their talents. Over the long-term, they may develop a strong resilient character that will also make them equipped to deal with disappointments in their life.
Ultimately, education means different things to different people. It may be about gaining A’s and A* at GCSE and A-Level to gain admission onto a professional course like Medicine at a Russell Group university to obtaining the necessary qualifications to enrol on an apprenticeship. To me, education is about instilling the value in all students of doing the very best that you can in everything you do in life, because who knows what you’ll achieve.
Featured Image Photo Credit: nniknak
What do you think the purpose of education should be? Join the debate now.