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Anyone else disillusioned with the way we are taught at GCSE and A levels? watch

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    I feel like we are taught to cram and learn techniques rather than appreciate the breadth of the subject or think creatively. Any thoughts?
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    (Original post by Kadak)
    I feel like we are taught to cram and learn techniques rather than appreciate the breadth of the subject or think creatively. Any thoughts?
    That's the oldest point about public education and applies to the whole world, not just GCSE and A levels. The answer is simply that there is no better way. Can you think of one?
    A student is allowed to appreciate the breadth of a subject as much as they want and most teachers encourage curiosity and will be happy to talk to their student about anything related to their subjects. The thing is most students don't really care about anything other than doing well in the exam. This is probably a part of reason why personal statements exist. To encourage students to go beyond the syllabus and take interest in the subject they're interested.

    tldr: the system isn't that bad
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    At GCSE, kind of but it would be a tough job for teachers, as part of their job is to keep the class under control. Pushing the boat out would get (and it has done at my school) 'please just teach us what's going to be in the exam' when our Physics teacher went into a bit of detail about something.

    At A-level, you're much more indepedent and you can go to the teacher with questions and have them answered, do background reading etc. It's what you make it.
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    For GCSEs, yes. For A Levels, no.

    With GCSEs, I have virtually forgotten pretty much all of the things I learn in Maths, English Literature and the Sciences. I never really understood the topics and simply memorised a few phrases that I used in exams repeatedly. I particularly remember writing "because the atoms moved" for pretty much most physics answers... surprisingly I passed comfortably doing that. Likewise, in English I used to write "he/she does this to create tension" for pretty much every paragraph. Maths, I used to get away with writing down all my working out processes and getting the final answer wrong. Ironically, it was only in GCSE Graphics where I had to be more imaginative to do well. But even then I could simply recite a load of nonsense in my portfolio.

    When I did my A Levels, especially at A2, I did find I had a lot of freedom to further study. In fact, further study (appreciating the breadth) was what got me better grades. For example, I did French, so even once I'd learnt all the verb conjugations, that would technically be enough for a week. But then I decided to learn about French-speaking regions, and this helped me with my oral presentation later on. Likewise, in my philosophy classes, I was expected to learn from the core textbook to pass. However, my essays were so much better when I started reading Plato or even if I started reading US newsletters about Anti-Abortion movements. So I definitely think A Levels accommodate for this breadth. The assessment is the only part that lets it down occassionally.
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    (Original post by mrno1324)
    That's the oldest point about public education and applies to the whole world, not just GCSE and A levels. The answer is simply that there is no better way. Can you think of one?
    A student is allowed to appreciate the breadth of a subject as much as they want and most teachers encourage curiosity and will be happy to talk to their student about anything related to their subjects. The thing is most students don't really care about anything other than doing well in the exam. This is probably a part of reason why personal statements exist. To encourage students to go beyond the syllabus and take interest in the subject they're interested.

    tldr: the system isn't that bad
    Yes the system is that bad and there are better ways.

    One educational movement is child led learning. The child chooses what they want to learn about and the teacher supports them in doing that.

    A.S. Neill believed that children should be free to do as they please so long as it has no impact on others. Summerhill school actualized this belief. The children there are equals with the teachers. Each has a single vote at the weekly meeting. This experiment has worked astoundingly well. It produces well rounded individuals who are allowed to progress at their own pace. They are allowed to develop their talents.

    Exam factories may produce children with certain qualifications, but demanding that all children learn a set amount by a set time is utterly counterproductive. They never gain a passion for a subject because the learning is for the sake of an exam, not for the sake of learning.

    Education at the moment seems to be about league tables, and how high up you can get on them. This is utterly useless. GCSEs and A levels put pressure on students. They don't learn anything except how to pass exams. I want the children I work with to learn to live. I want them to learn about subjects, but I want them to learn for the love of it. I see teaching as a supportive role, rather than an instructive one.

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    (Original post by Kadak)
    I feel like we are taught to cram and learn techniques rather than appreciate the breadth of the subject or think creatively. Any thoughts?
    This is true. Take maths for example: At the end of GCSE students maths ability is above average in europe. (Amazing considering the bad press around maths abilities). Yet 1 year after students drop maths their ability has fallen to the bottom of Europe. The general reasoning for this: We teach how to do not to understand why certain theories work. Furthermore were taught to split up subject where there is no definitive boundaries. Social sciences the worst for this. Someone tell me the barrier between economics, politics, sociology and psychology and how therefore can you study one without similar attention rest any realistic conclusion about society can be made. As you pointed out we dont study breadth or where certain things fall in the whole world,
    On a personal level its the same for me. I take A level maths and got an A at AS and A* in additional Maths GCSE however, I cannot explain how to derive the quadratic formula that it uses so often or explain the point of trigonometric functions to my family. Whilst I like maths I feel I understand the theory or why even to bother learning how to apply it. I'm not taking a maths related degree and it is not relevant for most jobs. The only reason I labour over it is because I require it to advance in my education: that is to get into university.
    I also study economics A level which I find fascinating outside of the classroom due to my interest upon current affairs and economic philosophy. However inside the classroom they have managed to suck the life out of the subject through confining it to pointless market models that will never occur due to their following of a defunct ideology. You can never make a political judgement in an economics essay.
    For example I put in one essay conclusion on economic growth and development that whilst we can afford more things due to our increased technology and efficiency this is not being used to make us work less and to feel more fulfilled and therefore is misguided. But no the syllabus and examiner would not accept this according to my teacher. In essence the message I received was don't challenge the basic tenant of the exam board rather simply conform. So I do: simply to pass the exam and move on.

    Sad really it doesn't feel like education at all, just more like jumping through hoops of obedience.
    Oh wait.
    Maybe this lack of challenging fundamental norms of subjects by getting us to focus on the minute details of subject is a vital form of social control. However in societies case this is getting us to conform to fundamental ideas in our society rather than question them for their irrationality.
    This is the true purpose of the education system.
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    Maybe something like a compulsory, once a year thing, for every school, where there isn't any regular work, but more of a chance for students to discuss the breadth of their subject(s) of choice with their teachers, who should prepare something interesting for the day, relating to the contemporary research in the subject, and most importantly, come prepared with a good reading list of books in their subject of wider scope than the curriculum. Sort of like a fair.

    I know it's only one day but when you think about it, for someone like you who wants more than GCSEs and A levels offer, a little nudge and some guidance of where to take your interest is all you should need. It would be helpful to others with similar concerns, and wouldn't set anyone back on their studies.

    I'd agree that completely replacing GCSE's/A levels is a bit more complex.
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    (Original post by questioningfox)
    In essence the message I received was don't challenge the basic tenant of the exam board rather simply conform. So I do: simply to pass the exam and move on.
    I hate that too, but unfortunately that's also related to what your teacher is like, and how much interest they have in their subject. I had a Biology teacher who truly loved the subject, told us all kinds of extra curricular stuff, the kind of person who would question the exam board. Maybe another economics teacher would instead have debated your point with you. Maybe talk about why the exam board won't accept it.

    As for the stuff about the quadratic formula and trig, well the way I see the system it's that A level maths is a toolbox. And if you're interested in knowing about how the quadratic formula is derived you take Maths at uni (which I intend to do) or research it yourself. But yeah, there's no doubt more can be done about it.
 
 
 
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