Education, Education, Education

merriman_weir

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#61
theyithian said:
I tend to write my posts nowadays under the misapprehension that everyone who reads them has looked at my previous posts on similar subjects and has a fair idea of broadly where I'm coming from. This is a bit silly, I realise, so please don't think I'm naively demanding 'back to basics' or any such nonsense.
Good job you're not teaching history then, eh? :lol:

I recognise the history/histories distinction, but deliberately passed over it. By HISTORY I mean an agglomeration of all written (and potential) histories. It is an amorphous blob, constantly growing and changing not merely as time passes, but also as our demands and beliefs change.
But here lies the rub, surely? It's an amorphous blob that's constantly changing and has increased fantastically in size since the late 1800s

HOWEVER, most people in British society (frankly) and all but the oldest and best students have no conception of this. Indeed, it seems they don't even know any of the disputed material - considering perspectives/agenda etc is quite impossible. They don't, in short, know many of the things that happened in the past, regardless of how and by whom they have been reported.
I'm not entirely sure that this has really been any different. My parents' generation left school at 14 with no qualifications. I can guarantee that what you're describing regarding ignorance about British history would have always been the case for the largest proportion of people.

As to textbooks, I think the companies obviously produce work for which there is a demand.
Doesn't this kind of short-circuit the argument about 'good' text books and photocopies? It seems that putting Nelson's history book in the classroom wouldn't really change anything.

The problem is clearly at the heart of the syllabus, with those who decide what to do, when, and to what degree. If children can't engage with books, the blame lies with parents and schools (the providers of education), the response should be to find ways to make children engage with books, not abolish their usage. It's not the books per se that are valuable, but the unified pattern/narrative they present. That is what is lacking. If it can be generated by other means, then so be it.
I agree with this to an extent. The problem is that education has long been a political football and your Tories are as a big a fault as (New) Labour. (Do I get a point for looking at the broader aspect of your posting history? :lol: ) Is it any wonder that there's no consistency in education generally?

The emphasis in history lessons today is on skills. Knowledge is not considered important; as information is supposedly always available nowadays, students should concentrated on how they receive it, what they do with it, and how they treat it. This is obviously all a (valuable) product of 60s (largely) Marxist-critical theory, but we've missed the point that critical skills are of secondary importance to the material they analyse. Also, - and this is the important part - the vast majority of our children will never reach a level of study where this becomes a major concern. The preponderance will leave school at 16 or 18 and be blessed if they have some understanding of where, when and how their society and its structures were created, how peoples and nations came to be where they are (in all senses of the phrase), and what things have been achieved, attempted and failed in the past and in what ways.
I'm not sure that critical skills are secondary per se. I'm not really in favour of memory feats as the basis of education which has tended to happen in the past. My O level English Lit, for example, was nothing more than a feat of memory that would test the mettle of all manner of scop and skald. We were asked fairly specific questions on texts that we didn't have in front of us. Critical thinking rendered completely pointless by an emphasis on memory!

All nations have an interesting history.
But not many have as long or broad history as Britain and I genuinely think this is a big factor. Lots of history to cram into 4 hour slots (or whatever) a week. Many of the Americans I've spoken to - who seem to have a decent grasp of their own history - perhaps wouldn't be quite as au fait if they'd had another 1600 years or so to add to that.

Britain (and indeed Britons) today, as much as anywhere in the world, is a direct product of its history: colonialism/Empire/industrialisation/democratisation/philosophy etc. etc. I don't want to get overly Whiggish, but we need a tapestry woven of these threads; what we have at the moment is a pile of fabric which is - understandably - of little interest to students. A concomitant of this is that children have no historical heroes. In a quest for inclusivity and a recognition of minority perspective, we have bowdlerised our national story and dragged those thought great for generations under a 20th/21st interrogative spotlight; perhaps unsurprisingly, they have been found wanting in the caring/sharing demands of our contemporary educational politics. The fact that they shaped the world and made our nation great cannot counter-balance these apparent sins.
I appreciate all this, but really what you're asking is for the sum of British history to be taught and I genuinely don't think it's possible in 2010. I agree with Quake's earlier point about focusing on smaller areas.

Finally, and as a complete addendum: dates are important. If you are given a series of important events/movements/eras (the big important ones: the crusades, the enlightenment, the renaissance, the industrial revolution, the major wars etc.) and you can't put them into a chronological order, you are uneducated and should be ashamed of yourself or your teachers.
There's dates and there's dates. The sequence of things happenings is important definitely, crucial really, but the actual dates themselves?

Edit: all your comments about local-history/interest accepted: you should obviously play up the local-links, but I'm largely of the view that if one doesn't think the major historical characters are 'relevant', then it is probably more honestly the case that one actually doesn't know enough about them.
I disagree. Firstly, it's not as if I'm saying major historical figures are irrelevant just that, to reiterate the point that's been a couple of times on this last page or so, it's histories and perspectives plural. I also find your point about 'minority' perspectives pretty shitty to be honest. Considering this demographics covered in the likes of 'social' histories tend to make up the largest population groups, I think it's pretty messed-up point of view to take.
 

Yithian

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#62
merriman_weir said:
I also find your point about 'minority' perspectives pretty shitty to be honest. Considering this demographics covered in the likes of 'social' histories tend to make up the largest population groups, I think it's pretty messed-up point of view to take.
That's fair enough. I accept that 'social' histories - not necessarily precisely what I was criticising - comprise the deeds of the bulk of humanity, but I don't really believe that the bulk of humanity sway history nearly as much key individuals and specific groups. Put me down as a Carlylist. Perhaps, however, we are speaking at slight cross-purposes here. The history that I think is particularly poorly taught is the 'grand narrative', overarching type. I actually don't think we do too bad a job of putting across the 'how we once lived' type information.

I appreciate you having troubled to look at some of my earlier posts; although, I'm not going to pass-over 'your Tories' in silence: I'm not a lifelong Tory, merely a contingent ally this time around.

The rest of your points, interesting though they are, will have to wait as I have a deadline to meet and half the evening has fled already,

TBC...

edit: final idea: you're right about American history. I know a good many Americans and have even taught some of their history textbooks. They're good - even sometimes absurdly simplistic and wilfully mythopoeic - but then, as you say, they haven't much to deal with. 'My local has a longer history than your country', as was once said to a friend's American wife.
 
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#63
Report says surgeons today would fail aptitude tests for college
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 11447.html

EITHNE DONNELLAN Health Correspondent

Wed, Jun 23, 2010

A NUMBER of the State’s consultant surgeons would be unlikely to get into medical school today if they had to sit the recently introduced aptitude test for medical school entry, a study has found.

Researchers from the departments of surgery at the Mater and Beaumont hospitals, Dublin, organised for 222 hospital consultants, junior doctors and medical students, including some who had taken the graduate entry route into medical school, to take a modified HPAT exam like the one introduced last year for school-leavers wanting places in medicine.

The HPAT exam is designed to measure a candidate’s logical reasoning and problem-solving skills as well as non-verbal reasoning and the ability to understand the thoughts, behaviour and/or intentions of people.

In this study, the candidates sat the exam at five centres – at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; Waterford Regional Hospital, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny; and the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin.

Junior doctors on average achieved the lowest scores and graduate entry medical students did best. These students were the only group to have previously sat an aptitude test to get into medical school.

Those behind the study, published in the latest edition of the Irish Medical Journal , say the scores achieved by consultant surgeons were surprising and suggest the HPAT exam does not measure what it purports to measure.

“We would have expected that consultants, with years of experience accrued in the clinical, research and academic fields, would have outperformed students.

“The ability to interpret data along with the more intuitive ‘wait and see’ decisions, combined with the ability to make a decision based on suboptimal knowledge and change as the situation evolves, are critical determinants in the performance of a doctor.

“There are skills gained with time and experience and would be akin to the traits purported to be tested by the aptitude tests. If a true measure of these skills, consultants should clearly have scored higher,” it says.

It adds that while it has been suggested one cannot prepare for or use grinds to improve one’s performance in the HPAT, the fact that it was those medical students who previously prepared for and sat an aptitude who did best may cast doubt over this assertion.

Two of the nine consultant surgeons who sat the exam scored six out of 12 and one got a score of five. It is “unlikely these three would have been offered a place in medical school. Clearly in our test situation, our profession would have lost . . . valuable colleagues had this been the requirement 30 years ago,” the authors state.

They conclude that while the change in the selection criteria for medical school entry is a positive step, the HPAT “is not without its flaws”.

While the sample sizes were different, with just nine consultants compared to 29 junior doctors and 105 medical students taking part, the authors say the trends found are still interesting.

Views on the HPAT vary widely. Dr Siun O’Flynn, a member of the national research group evaluating revised entry mechanisms to medicine, said earlier this year that it had resulted in a significant number of candidates getting into medicine who would not have otherwise secured places. This included candidates from lower socio-economic groups.

The exam has also restored gender balance to medical degree courses, with more males getting places in the past year.
 
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#64
Coughlan to seek report on blunders
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 11347.html

SEÁN FLYNN and PETER McGUIRE

Wed, Jun 23, 2010

MINISTER FOR Education Mary Coughlan is expected to seek a full report from the State Exams Commission (SEC) on a series of embarrassing blunders in this year’s Leaving and Junior Cert exams.

Her spokesman said yesterday the Minister was “less than impressed” with the latest mistake when students in 16 south Dublin schools received an incomplete higher level accounting paper on Monday. He said: “It’s just not good enough given the level of preparation which students have put into their examinations that these mistakes occur.”

St Benildus, Blackrock College, CBC Monkstown, Clonkeen College, Oatlands College, St Andrew’s, Rosemont Secondary and Rathdown School were among 16 south Dublin schools which received the accounting paper with key sections missing.

Yesterday, the SEC said it would conduct a review of this year’s exams after a flurry of complaints from parents and teachers.

The SEC’s management of the exams was severely criticised by Labour’s education spokesman Ruairí Quinn yesterday.

Olivia Mitchell of Fine Gael said many parents had contacted her to complain about the situation. In particular, they were concerned that the response in different examination centres was not uniform. She called on Ms Coughlan to assure students that the disruptive effect of the error would be taken into account in marking.

Parents, teachers, and students have expressed concern about the inconsistent guidance given by the SEC after a printing error in the accounting paper became known at 2pm on Monday afternoon.

Although the SEC issued an instruction that students should continue with section one of the paper, examiners in at least one school – Oatlands College in Stillorgan – did not begin the exam until they received the complete paper at approximately 2.45pm. Students were given additional time in the exam, but this was at the discretion of the examiners, and varied significantly from school to school.

Martina Mannion, assistant principal for the SEC, said the length of additional time given would vary depending on a number of factors, such as the length of time taken to contact the SEC for instructions, the time involved in collecting the incorrect paper and distributing the correct paper, and the number of candidates in the centre.

“Accounting is a tough paper and students need the time,” said Damian O’Hora, a teacher at Clonkeen College, Blackrock. “Many would have preferred to answer the missing questions first, but with the instruction from the SEC to go ahead with section one, this wasn’t an option.”

This year’s exams have been a PR disaster for the SEC which had succeeded in running the exams without major incidents since its establishment in 2003.

Last year, a Leaving Cert English paper had to be rescheduled after the wrong paper was distributed – but the SEC was not responsible for the error.

The accounting error is the latest in a series of incidents that have caused embarrassment to the SEC this year. In the most serious incident, 24,000 Junior Cert business students were unable to work out a cash-flow question on the higher-level paper last week because of incorrect figures.
 

rynner2

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#65
Angry parents accuse school of 'dumbing down' English by showing The Simpsons in class
By Laura Clark
Last updated at 8:19 AM on 16th July 2010

A father has started a petition against 'dumbing down' after his daughter's school ditched literary classics in favour of The Simpsons.

Joseph Reynolds was horrified when his 13-year-old daughter spent six weeks studying the popular US cartoon in English lessons.
Homework assignments included watching episodes of the TV series.

His petition calling for Shakespeare to replace The Simpsons has now gained more than 300 signatures.

But the school, Kingsmead Community School in Somerset, has defended its curriculum, claiming the programme helps students 'to become critical readers and analysts of complex media texts'.
It insisted it was merely following the National Curriculum, which requires that students study 'moving image' texts.
And it said 'many other schools' used The Simpsons to teach English.

But Mr Reynolds, 44, a marine engineer from Wiveliscombe near Taunton, branded the programme the 'Turkey Twizzler' of the curriculum and called on Education Secretary Michael Gove to act to remove it.

'When I asked my daughter what she had done today in her English class, and she said The Simpsons, I thought it was a hook to get the kids interested in something more intellectual,' he said.
'But six weeks later she was still doing The Simpsons.

'I'm not some moral crusader against The Simpsons. I find it witty and clever and watch it at home. But it's a TV sitcom and it doesn't belong in the classroom.

'I do think we should raise the level a little for our children. Children should be studying text of the highest quality and I don't believe this fits the bill.'

Mr Reynolds wife, Denise, 39, said: 'Someone said to my husband that Homer was the modern day Hamlet but how can these kids make a connection like that if they are not learning about Shakespeare?'

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0tpobK61N

The poor kids will probably get so sick of the Simpsons that reading Shakespeare will seem subversive and cool!
Teacher: "Jenkins, pay attention to the screen. What's that you're hiding..?
(Confiscates copy of Hamlet...)
8)
 

Quake42

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#66
I'm immediately suspicious of this story because of its origin! A quick Google brings up a report in the local newspaper which helps to set the record straight:

Head teacher backs Bart and Co
6:30am Friday 16th July 2010

Print Email Share Comments(1)

A HEAD teacher has defended a study of The Simpsons by 12-year-old students following a complaint by a parent.

Geoff Tinker, head of Kingsmead Community School in Wiveliscombe, spoke out after John Reynolds set up a petition to protest at the use of the popular American cartoon as part of the year eight English curriculum.

Mr Reynolds thinks the school is “setting the bar too low”.

He has written to the school’s Governors to complain and his petition had already gained nearly 150 signatures by the beginning of this week.

He said: “I have no argument with the show. In fact I find it witty and clever and watch it at home.

“But I do think we should raise the level a little for our children. Children should be studying text of the highest quality and I don’t believe this fits the bill.”

Kingsmead’s head teacher, Geoff Tinker, said: “The Governors have looked into this in great detail and rejected Mr Reynolds’ claim – a decision I completely endorse.

“We are one of several schools in Somerset who use The Simpsons as part of Key Stage 3 media projects.

“We live in a media-rich society and it’s important our students are critical readers of complex media texts, such as this, which includes satire and humour.

“Our English results are excellent and I have no qualms about using this subject matter at all.”
http://www.thisisthewestcountry.co.uk/n ... o/?ref=rss

The show was, therefore, being studied as part of a media project and not as a replacement for Shakespeare or any other literary works.

You can argue that media studies of any sort have no place in schools - although I think this would be a silly argument to make - but don't pretend that English lessons have been replaced by watching cartoons.
 

Kondoru

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#67
Im looking to go to college to study an access course

the history section covers the Nazis and the american civil rights movement.

what relevance is this?
 

Quake42

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#68
Im looking to go to college to study an access course

the history section covers the Nazis and the american civil rights movement.

what relevance is this?
I don't understant your question. What relevance is what?

If you don't want to study recent history, find a college that offers ancient/ medieval/ early modern history.
 

stu neville

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#69
Kondoru said:
..what relevance is this?
Access courses, by their nature, condense a lot of info into a relatively short time. They are designed for people who have been out of the educational loop for at least a few years - as a result, their history modules tend to use a lot of recent history for which there's a wealth of evidence and of which there's already a general sense of context, hence the Nazis, US Civil Rights movement, Spanish Civil War, Cold War and before long the Miners' Strike and the Falklands.

It doesn't ignore everything that happened prior to the 20th Century, but stresses what's so easily available - and if the student then goes on to do History at degree level there will be plenty of scope to go back earlier. The disciplines involved (studying primary and secondary sources, documentary evidence, unbiased critiques, etc) are all transferable across the entire subject.
 

Kondoru

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#70
Yep, you are right there.

But as a nation we are not really prone to either fascism or utopianism, nor have we had any huge civil rights issues.
 

stu neville

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#71
It's world history - and most degree level courses differentiate between British, European and World history, offering a combination of them and usually the choice of that in which you may wish to specialise.

The Access course will have some British history in there.
 
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#72
nor have we had any huge civil rights issues.
In Northern Ireland, part of the UK, there were huge civil rights issues. Derry, a city with a 2/3 nationalist majority was gerrymandered so that the unionists controlled it. Thats just one example.

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association first slogan was: British Rights For British Citizens.
 

stu neville

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#73
.. and you could argue that under Cromwell and any number of monarchs we were close to a Fascist state. Utopianism?

Why am I thinking of "Things can only get better..."?

Point being, we have a very good line in rose-tinted retrospectives. Fact remains, we're as a nation just as capable of being bastardly as anyone (and in fact rather led the world in it at one point...)
 

rynner2

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#75
Petition to stop school's lessons in The Simpsons

More than 400 people have signed a petition calling for a Somerset school to stop teaching the US cartoon series The Simpsons in lessons.

The opening sequence and an episode are being covered in the media module of the course at Kingsmead Community School, in Wiveliscombe.

The school said the show demonstrated use of language in the media.

Parent Joseph Reynolds said it was not the right quality of learning material for his daughter and her classmates.

Mr Reynolds collected signatures for his petition in the local community, but the school's governors upheld the school's decision to continue teaching the cartoon.

Mr Reynolds said: "I don't think it's strong enough content. The national curriculum actually lists a great number of authors we could use and The Simpsons is never listed.

"The school has kind of fallen back on a weaker programme here just because kids like The Simpsons.

"If you want to use The Simpsons once in a while as a hook to get kids interested in A Midsummer Night's Dream or get them interested in some other stronger content, I think that's great.

"There's a big difference between that and actually teaching The Simpsons for six weeks and I think it's a waste of the kids' time."

Andy Dunnett, the school's assistant head teacher, said work on the cartoon took place in Year Eight as part of a "broad, balanced and diverse" curriculum.

He said: "Students are encouraged to look at the text in a critical way. Initially it's about building up their skills as critical thinkers.

"They also learn about different aspects of the media; audience, visual narrative, presentation and stereotypes, and some quite high level thinking ideas like satire, irony and parody.

"Far from dumbing down... we believe we are giving students a really vital and important part of their general education."

Mr Dunnett added: "Our students get a very wide diet including three Shakespeare plays over five years at Kingsmead.

"We would be doing our students a disservice if we didn't give them the opportunity to learn about the way media products are made and the way they affect the world around them."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-10697272

Media studies: content-free load of waffle. Like a load of folks down the pub, discusssing last night's Corrie! :twisted:

All right, I'm being ironic... (not that some folks will see it, though - even if they have 'studied' the Simpsons!)
 

Kondoru

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#76
I think the Simpsons are great, lots of content that leads onto wider subjects, too much esseeeeeschs.

Its just like anime in that respect.

(could you see a school doing something like that with Japaninmation????)

But lets face it, its american and so not appropriate for GB kids.
 

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#77
As I posted previously, the parent concerned, with his references to Shakespeare, seems to have missed the point entirely. The Simpsons is not being studied as English Literature. It is part of a media project.

You can of course argue that schools should not waste time on media studies at all, but that is a different point. If kids are going to be taught to look at media critically, I think the Simpsons, with its multiple layers, is an excellent place to start.
 

Mythopoeika

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#78
I think this kind of study for kids is merely an acknowledgement that most kids these days don't read.

I bought a book for my youngest nephew recently, thinking it might interest him and get him to read more. Eventually, it filtered through from my sister that he hadn't even looked at the book, "because he doesn't read anything at all". This is not a brainless kid we're talking about here. His older brother (who's just got a 2:1 degree recently) also does not read for pleasure.

I feel sorry for the publishing industry.
 

LaurenChurchill

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#79
Obviously my own view of this will be tinted by the fact that as a young Aussie I've just gone through school, and that schooling is based on a different curriculum to the schools in the UK.

But we did more than just one text a year in English. We studied Shakespeare. We also studied the poetry of Gwen Harwood, Blade Runner and songs by Queen. The idea was to study how different media use different techniques to get their points and values across to the viewer/listener/reader.

The Simpsons seems to me to be a fantastic thing for kids to study in English. Aside from that fact that it's a show that is relevent to their world and would likely attract their attention more, it a show that refers to things familiar to them, but also things likely unfamiliar too, widening their world view; and features many techniques of communication that they would likely be studying in class, irony and satire being obvious.

Just because something isn't a classic piece of literature, doesn't make it invalid as a medium of study.
 

Yithian

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#80
Some people simply never get bitten by the bug, I accept that, but you can massively increase the chance of a child finding enjoyment in books. For example (not the only way), I was read to nearly every single night I remember as a young child before i said my prayers and the light went out. It was part of the routine like brushing my teeth and putting on my pyjamas. As soon as I could read myself, my parents pushed me to read aloud to my younger brother in the same way. With only two years between us, I could just read my favourite books to him, so it didn't seem like such an imposition. We also both had an awful lot of those tape and book sets, in which you turned the page whenever you heard the sound of Indy's whip crack or whatever. I think, as a result, we both grew up mimicking a lot of what we heard and 'putting on' voices whenever we read. It sounds dreadfully precocious, but it was fun. At the time, of course, this meant nothing to us, but as the years pass, you do begin to speculate about what sparked what, and I think our family bookshelves meant a lot.

That schools might give up on books because kids don't enjoy them is tantamount to a dereliction of duty. I wouldn't care if they were all given iPads to read from, as long as they read. The greater part of the accumulated wisdom of mankind (that which survives), exists in text. To not read is to cut yourself off from that. Children are too young to make such momentous decisions as they can't possibly understand the consequences. They shouldn't be given an 'opt-out' because they 'don't like books'.

My most hated word of recent years is 'relevant' (closely followed by sustainable); if you are human, the thoughts and words of other humans are as 'relevant' as anything else to your life. Reading is all about 'fusing horizons', moving beyond your own narrow perspective and widening your understanding. If children are subjected only to (that narrowly defined as) 'relevant', then they will live shallow, unfulfilling lives.
 

Yithian

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#81
If the Simpsons is so good for them (and I don't demur overly), let the homework be to watch it at home. We should be taking children beyond that which they already encounter everyday. Once in school is fine. I recall watching The Longest Day after having studied WWII, but several lessons on the Simpsons - for whatever purpose - signifies a lazy teacher.

As one slight quibble, if relevancy is considered the be-all and end-all, then why are British children studying an American show: surely we can take a simple step up in relevancy from there.
 

Dr_Baltar

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#82
theyithian said:
If the Simpsons is so good for them (and I don't demur overly), let the homework be to watch it at home. We should be taking children beyond that which they already encounter everyday. Once in school is fine. I recall watching The Longest Day after having studied WWII, but several lessons on the Simpsons - for whatever purpose - signifies a lazy teacher.

As one slight quibble, if relevancy is considered the be-all and end-all, then why are British children studying an American show: surely we can take a simple step up in relevancy from there.
You seem to have missed the point entirely too, just like the petition organiser. No-one is talking about not bothering reading or forgetting about great works of literature. Nor are they having "lessons on The Simpsons", they are learning critical analysis skills. The origin and content of the show is largely irrelevant, but it does seem to make sense to choose one that will immediately engage most children's interest and that is (generally) intellegently written and multi-layered. I think it's a great idea to use something children encounter every day and take them beyond just watching it as a cartoon that makes them laugh.

Still, some people only seem to have to hear the words "The Simpsons" and imagine that we're all heading for cultural hell in a dumbed-down cart.
 

Yithian

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#83
Dr_Baltar said:
You seem to have missed the point entirely too, just like the petition organiser.
They used The Simpsons for six weeks.
Presuming a lesson per week, that's five weeks too long.

The points about reading were made in response to Mythopoeika. While I was typing LaurenChurchill posted 'between' us, perhaps masking this fact.

To be clear: six weeks of critical skills via The Simpons is an appalling waste of class-time in an environment where time is very precious.
 

Dr_Baltar

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#84
theyithian said:
They used The Simpsons for six weeks.
Presuming a lesson per week, that's five weeks too long.

The points about reading were made in response to Mythopoeika. While I was typing LaurenChurchill posted 'between' us, perhaps masking this fact.

To be clear: six weeks of critical skills via The Simpons is an appalling waste of class-time in an environment where time is very precious.
To be fair, given that we don't know exactly what they did in class, I'm not sure either of us is in a position to praise or criticise. However, I think the quote, "They also learn about different aspects of the media; audience, visual narrative, presentation and stereotypes, and some quite high level thinking ideas like satire, irony and parody" shows pretty clearly that they weren't just watching cartoons in class. I can't agree that six weeks spent studying those subjects, no matter how they were illustrated, is a waste of anyone's time. Given that this was the media module of the course, I'd be hard pushed to name any other TV programme that covers all these areas with quite the same level of intelligence.
 

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#85
Dr_Baltar said:
To be fair, given that we don't know exactly what they did in class, I'm not sure either of us is in a position to praise or criticise. However, I think the quote, "They also learn about different aspects of the media; audience, visual narrative, presentation and stereotypes, and some quite high level thinking ideas like satire, irony and parody" shows pretty clearly that they weren't just watching cartoons in class.
I don't know precisely what they did in class. I do know they were twelve years old, and from that I'll deduce that - in spite of the teacher's ability to roll out a list of buzzwords as a smokescreen - this wasn't a high-level study, but was an inappropriate use of class time. Twelve year olds do not need to be indulged with cartoons, regardless of their supposed quality. If my child came home to say he had watched the Simpsons for the last six lessons, I'd strongly consider moving schools if it were possible.
 

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#86
theyithian said:
I don't know precisely what they did in class. I do know they were twelve years old, and from that I'll deduce that - in spite of the teacher's ability to roll out a list of buzzwords as a smokescreen - this wasn't a high-level study, but was an inappropriate use of class time. Twelve year olds do not need to be indulged with cartoons, regardless of their supposed quality. If my child came home to say he had watched the Simpsons for the last six lessons, I'd strongly consider moving schools if it was possible.
How can you deduce anything from the age of the children? Would studying Shakespeare at twelve years old be an inappropriate use of class time? And again, saying the children were "indulged" and "watched the Simpsons for the last six lessons" appears to be deliberately and beligerently misrepresenting what the class is about.
 

Yithian

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#87
"They also learn about different aspects of the media; audience, visual narrative, presentation and stereotypes, and some quite high level thinking ideas like satire, irony and parody"
I'm not convinced i'll change your mind, but I may as well continue.

Can they conceivably have gained something valuable from studying the Simpsons? Yes, they can.

Do many children already watch a hell of a lot of cartoons?
Yes, they do.

Are there more appropriate materials? Ones that perhaps tie-in with studying English a little better? Undoubtedly.

Will a number of the class have watched the episodes with relish, and then stared blankly at some of the ideas listed above, no matter how fluffily put by their newly cool teacher? Probably. I'd like to get dewy-eyed about making breakthroughs, and really making a difference with children from difficult backgrounds by using materials that 'really speak to them and their needs', but the fact is that I know a good many teachers and I've seen what our system has been churning out: it isn't pretty. We don't need any more 'semiotics of the Simpsons'; hitherto unprecedented numbers are leaving school illiterate!

Take a look at the first few pages of this thread. We were discussing the endless study of skills and the lack of knowledge-based education. That's the problem and this sorry state of affairs is a symptom.
 

Quake42

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#88
I think this kind of study for kids is merely an acknowledgement that most kids these days don't read.

I bought a book for my youngest nephew recently, thinking it might interest him and get him to read more. Eventually, it filtered through from my sister that he hadn't even looked at the book, "because he doesn't read anything at all". This is not a brainless kid we're talking about here. His older brother (who's just got a 2:1 degree recently) also does not read for pleasure.
Some people just don't read for pleasure. I find it odd too, because I have loved to read from a very early age, but that's the way it is.

But we did more than just one text a year in English.
Yeah, my reading of the article was that the school taught one Shakespeare text a year. I'm sure they taught other texts as well.

Twelve year olds do not need to be indulged with cartoons, regardless of their supposed quality
I'm normally quite academically elitist, in many ways - but statements like this really annoy me. I just hate the idea that educational tools are only of value if they are boring or unenjoyable. Yes, pupils should be challenged - but there's no reason why this can't done on occasion with enjoyable material.
 

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#89
Quake42 said:
I'm normally quite academically elitist, in many ways - but statements like this really annoy me. I just hate the idea that educational tools are only of value if they are boring or unenjoyable. Yes, pupils should be challenged - but there's no reason why this can't done on occasion with enjoyable material.
With apologies for annoying you, I don't disagree. 'On occasion' does not, however, equate to six consecutive weeks, in my view.
 

Anome

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#90
theyithian said:
Dr_Baltar said:
You seem to have missed the point entirely too, just like the petition organiser.
They used The Simpsons for six weeks.
Presuming a lesson per week, that's five weeks too long.
So would you suggest that a single lesson is all one needs on any literary form? Perhaps they could do a single lesson on the plays of Shakespeare, surely they don't need any more than that? Or if that's a bit too much, maybe one each on the histories, the tragedies, and the comedies. That should do it. Then they can move onto the entire works of George Bernard Shaw in the next lesson.

Without knowing exactly what they were teaching with The Simpsons, or how they were teaching it, I would hesitate to say whether 6 weeks was too much, or insufficient.

Keep in mind, The Simpsons has been running for over 20 years. While not all of them have been good years, that's a lot of material. It's also a very clever show, and includes references to a lot of literature and other material that 12 year olds might not be familiar with. It could be a good way to introduce them to other literature.

Then there's the question of how it's evolved over the years, and how it developed a distinct voice.

Basically, I can see a heap of stuff in The Simpsons that could be taught to 12 year olds. I'd have to actually see what the lesson plans were before I could say whether it was worthwhile or not. Even then, I'd probably have to get my father to look it over, he's an English teacher, after all.

It's also important to remember that there are people who question the continued use of Shakespeare in the curriculum. After all, the language is archaic, and the subject matter is over 400 years old. And it's about a lot of things that people can't connect to, what with all the stuff about kings and battles and witches and ghosts...
 
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