Learning and Education – Part 2: Proposals for Basic Education

So I wrote about some of the issues I have with basic education in germany last week. Here are some proposals I have to ameliorate the situation.

  1.  One School for everyone
    A school is the beginnings of a society. Let us not practice segregation and let us give up the stigmas some branches of education may bare. We can still keep the qualifications you end up with, but let’s make them dependent on what year you voluntarily leave school at, rather than what branch you get sorted into.
  2. More teachers, more subjects
    The state needs to hire more teachers. A class size of 25 should be the maximum and 20 should be the optimum. “sports” needs to dissapear from the curriculum to be replaced by more specific descriptions like “athletics” “soccer” “tennis” and “karate” or “ballet”. Cooking and housekeeping need to be taught. These subjects adress the problem of growing obesity and the fact that less and less people actually know how to cook or eat healthy.
  3. Some grades need to go
    Sports, arts and crafts or theatre should not be graded. They carry an intrinsic reward students might never learn once they recieve a bad grade.
  4.  No more repeating of schoolyears
    Comparative studies have shown, that the fewest children actually benefit from repeating a year. In fact, more get worse than improve.
  5. Well, some repeating of schoolyears
    Students may go back one year or advance one year if they themselves expressly wish to do so.
  6. Encourage leadership
    Every students excels at certain subjects. Let each student lead an (assisted) afternoon class once a month on a subject of his choosing.
  7. Give credit for social work
    Let students learn the basic values of living in a working society. Extra care should be taken that these experiences are fun. Activities could be, taking care of children or the elderly, working at a veterinarians practice or joining a forester on his rounds through the public woods.
  8. School needs to get longer, not shorter
    Screw businesses that want to hire 16 year old kids that speak six languages and have four years of experience and a college degree. Qualification takes time, and there is a threshold of how much you can learn in a given time.
  9. Point them in the right way
    Start grading good behaviour, not with grades, but by awarding points. It should work like a frequent flyer system. Good behaviour like leading a class, improving a grade or being there on time for x weeks in a row earns you points, bad behaviour like tardiness, forgetting your homework or fighting in school looses you a certain amount of points. At certain point levels you gain privileges, like entry to the student lounge, use of the school gym or pool after hours etc. if you fall below those levels, you loose the privileges again. Surely an experience to remember.
  10. A nurse
    Something i found invaluable at my american highschool was the school nurse. I have been the witness of so many little accidents, it is good to have a trained medical practitioner on site to take pressure of the teachers should a student get hurt.
How can all this be payed for? For one, one school instead of three makes a very large centralized school. Due to economics of scale heating and running costs will be alot less than in three separate schools. Also, according to the Bertelsmann study, students repeating classes is costing the State close to one billion euros, or more precisely more than 931 million euros per year. yes that is 931.ooo.000 Euros that is eleven million euros per citizen per year. Abolish repeating classes and we have all the money we need to implement all other changes.
Keep tolling the bell.

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