posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 08:15 AM
I've been hearing a lot about how the UK's schools have been going very downhill recently, and while I'm inclined to agree, I will have to say that
you guys are genii compared to us!
First off, a bit of backstory. I've lived in the UK until around the end of year 7, when father's job required him to move to the US. Until then, I
was in a public school with nice, open-minded people, and I was very enthusiastic about my education.
After I had spent a year in the US' equivalent of year 8 (which would be 7th grade), I felt quite a it stupider than when I arrived on US soil. I
already knew everything in maths, but because I had joined the school late (some time in December), they wouldn't let me move up a class. Your class
gets chosen before the year begins, as compared to what we had in secondary school in the UK, which was getting sorted into A, B, or C set based on
class performance and test grades, and being able to be freely moved between them based on class performance. Nope; Once you're in class, according
to the teachers, there is no getting out. This was more depressing than it should be.
Also, I noticed that there was a lack of knowledge of anything outside of the US. People were asking me things along the lines of "OMG were you from
London???" and other such ridiculous stuff. Seriously, kids, that's just really stupid and ignorant. I know that they're supposed to teach you
things like that - I just so happen to be one of those extremely rare people that occasionally actually talks to teachers, because - gasp! - teachers
are humans, too! But I digress.
In addition to general ignorance, the administration was TERRIBLE. In the schools that I went to in the UK, the Headmaster was always a teacher, and
not just a manager. They actually talked with the kids occasionally, and even taught! As compared to our wonderful principal, whose primary goal was
to work out the paperwork, call parents, and direct traffic in the hallways.
Here's another fun thing - for middle school language teachers, they hire people who SEEM to know the language, and not people who have degrees or
anything. Our French teacher was atrocious. (I've taken French before, in year 7. I actually liked the language then.) She was such a nice lady,
though, so I did feel guilty, however she kept forgetting which homework she assigned, and which page we were on, and other such things. It didn't
help one bit that (and she said this herself) the textbooks that the school supplied us with were more for tourists than people who really wanted to
LEARN a language.
And on the topic of testing, those in Britain know of the SATs, right? Multiple choice, writing parts, showing your work, etc. Here in VA, all we have
are multiple choice questions. Erm, what? We don't learn to comprehend the coursework, no; we learn to take tests. That's all we're learning. In
maths, they teach us formulas, but they don't tell us WHY they work, and they don't expect us to figure it out, either. Most can't, regardless!
Oh, and in our school, there is apparently no such thing as philosophical debate. I remember RS was fun because of the philosophy part - and oh joyous
of joys, was that fun - but in middle school, we don't get to get into that. Apparently, we're too young to be thinking! (I really dislike the idea
of middle schools, and so do most of my teachers, as well. It's like taking primary school all over again, and it's really VERY painful.)
In short, compared to things in the US (or maybe just Virginia), things really aren't THAT bad in the UK. At least, in my opinion. Thoughts, anyone?