Correct principles

I managed to catch CAP (community acquired pneumonia) this summer, and after several false dawns, I think I am finally seeing the end of it.

I changed my tag line (or whatever you call it) this evening to part of a quote by Joseph Smith. He said “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” Isn’t  that what HE should be all about?

Teach them to read, teach them to communicate, teach them to synthesise, teach then to think… teach them correct principles.

Instead we teach them stuff, stuff and more stuff. I asked some of our MSc students, who come from far and wide, about their undergraduate experiences. I asked them about classes they had taken in their previous education, and how many of them required large amounts of memorisation. Every one of them reported that memorisation was the rule, with pulling ideas together, drawing connections, and producing something being rare.

These are not  poor students in any way. We are in the top 100 psychology departments in the world (latest league table) and draw students from some of the best schools in the world. It is still all about content.

well, I am not usually considered a conservative, but in this case, I think we should back up a bit and adopt some C19 wisdom, and teach them correct principles and let them learn the rest.


One thought on “Correct principles

  1. Very true. Schools are too obsessed with tables and results. My partner and I are of very equal intelligence.

    I left school with straight A’s and came to Bangor University on a scholarship. He left school with C’s and D’s and struggled to get through the University application process.

    The ONLY difference… I went to school in affluent West Sussex, where academic statistics and Ofsted reports matter. He went to school in Liverpool, where the only thing that mattered was gang control and crime statistics.

    My school, in its obsession with grades, taught me what I needed to know to pass exams. I was taught to memorise information, to use mnemonics and taught recall exercises. I was spoon fed answers to likely to come up questions, and made to sit mock exam after mock exam.

    His school, gave him the basic information and left him to it.

    The result: although able to write well, and communicate articulately and maturely, and although I have a good idea of how to give a successful interview, I lack his problem solving abilities, common sense, and initiative.

    Yes, there has to be a middle ground here. Where I needed to be left to my own devices more often, he needed more guidance on what examiners were wanting to see from him. He has been left with poor grades, which seems unfair and puts him at a disadvantage on the job market. Anybody in my school who had achieved a C grade or below would be considered fit only for vocational courses. In his school, this was ‘average’ and therefore ‘acceptable’. He was never pushed!

    But although I have a great academic record, was I ever equipped with an ability to think for myself, to form my own opinions, to research and to theorise? Only through my own endeavours.

    We are erring ever closer to a generation of young people with excellent grades, but whose morals, ethics, principles, political views, social values and attitudes on important life questions are merely the regurgitated opinions of their teachers and media influences. A generation who do not question, do not think, and do not imagine. A generation who, for all their top grades and exam results, are fundamentally ignorant.


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