Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sank, swam, go down with the ship, but use your freedom of choice (Devo)

Drinking Coke is a matter of choice, right?
Debate is raging at school right now about compulsory subjects, freedom of choice and even if subjects should exist at all.

Okay, 'raging' is a stretch, so is the bit about 'if subjects should exist', but a debate of some kind, is happening. Or maybe it's not - sometimes it's hard to tell these things. 

In NZ, a national curriculum makes some subjects compulsory up to and including Year 10. For Year 11, students need basic numeracy and literacy (which schools often interpret to mean English/ maths, but science is usually throw in there as well). After Year 11 nothing is compulsory (yet schools often make English something everyone has to do).

From what I can tell there are clear reasons for and against the dilemma of making subjects compulsory.

And here they are...

On one hand - some subjects should be compulsory because:

  • We know best
  • The country needs skilled professionals in areas like engineering and I.T.
  • The number of students willingly studying maths and science is declining
  • We want to produce well rounded, informed, citizens 

On the other hand, Freedom of choice is better because:

  • It supports self-directed learning
  • It supports the desire for greater student satisfaction...
  • ...which leads to improved academic performance
  • Universities are interested in academic performance rather than performance in individual subjects
  • With the rapidly changing workplace of the modern world, a wide range of transportable and transferable skills is preferable

It's a dilly of a pickle for some people. But not me. At a recent meeting I advanced an opinion (which came as a shock to no one).

Largely because of reasons one, two and three, I firmly believe in the freedom model

After further discussion, lo, it came to pass.

None of the siloed subjects in our senior school are now compulsory. Some are 'strongly recommended' and that's cool!

Next stop - the end of those pesky siloed subjects!

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