Overview and decisions in learning systems

25 November 2016

The education process is a complex ecosystem, making one decision who changes a part of it without having a good overview of the entire process may lead to uncontrolled effects in other parts of the ecosystem. I am after a decision of the Minister of Education in my country regarding homework time for children. This affects me as a father and also I need to get involved as a person who is working in international training system.  My activity is evaluated based on results, the success of my trainees is my business card and in the same time the only reason why I still get payed.

It happened that I spoke to friends in France couple of weeks ago on this subject and they complained about the same issue as we do: too much homework for our children in the classic educational system. As I said at the beginning these thoughts I have put in the bytes you read follow the decision of the education minister in Romania to reduce through an order the time spent for homework by children in school.

I want to clarify from the beginning that even if  I work in education, the system I work into is different from the classical education system therefore there may be differences, constraints (context related) and performance evaluation metrics which can lead a manager to taker a different decision. This is why please treat my article as a point of view, a perspective of a trainer and a father which I hope will trigger some ideas.

Have you heard about the “Butterfly Effect”?  It says that a butterfly flapping wings in a part of the world, after a while may trigger a tsunami in the opposite point of the same world. An abstract idea which  acknowledges the fact that we live in an ecosystem, we are interconnected and when we make a small decision we must think about the effects which may be produced in time in the entire ecosystem.

As a father I salute the decision of the education minister to reduce the time spent for homework. If I regard this decision is a very good one because I have a very hard time explaining my son why does he have to work at school, after school, in what he considers his free time. It is even more difficult to explain because in my training system it is the trainer’s (facilitator’s) duty to transmit the information to delegates during the training hours including: learning the information, understanding the information, applying the information (all necessary hands-on exercises) ad at most advanced levels optimization of the information received. If the child inside me rejects the idea how can I present it as a good one to my child? That’s why I agree it is a good, very good idea to reduce the time for homework at home… Also that helps the psychology of the child to accept there are some limits, and the existence of these limits makes the world around him controllable and safe.  Psychotherapists in my network, please help me support and explain better this idea.  Also the brain needs time to rest, to be decoupled from a subject and come back to it later, refreshed with more energy and creative ideas. The time spent at home should be dedicated to friends, family, social activities opposed to the idea that at home the child should be isolated in his room to do the homework while others…

That’s why I salute and encourage the idea… but… there is always a but… what will we do with enormous quantity of information the children need to accumulate? Let’s take it practical: I have to read 800 pages, assuming the book is perfectly adapted to my level of understanding, I know all words and I am familiar with the ideas I need 24 hours at 250 wpm (as a trained adult).  If from this allocated time a ministerial order comes and reduces this time to 14 hours because in that day I have to perform other activities  like eating, sleeping, sport etc. How would you feel as an adult? Now put yourself in the shoes of a child who does not fulfill my initial / ideal assumptions, needs explanations, clarifications and he just learned to read !

So the reduction of working time is directly related to the quantity of information which needs to be processed, assuming you want to keep the quality at the same level, we need to readjust the curricula so it is feasible!

If the quality decreases and the teacher in school has to advance in the current rhythm obviously after a time the children will not understand a thing he is saying because they did not have time to understand. So the teacher needs to change his educational/pedagogical approach  to push the brains to learn and understand faster. That means the current teachers need new tools like NLP or other similar instruments who will help them understand and control better the way of function of a child’s brain to restructure the information so the kid can accumulate and understand faster (it is possible). But when will they be trained? And who will teach the teacher? If the who we can solve , I have an issue with when because they need to every day at school teaching the little ones. They can allocate time in summer but the ministerial order is supposed to come now at the beginning of the year, how we will manage until summer when teachers will upgrade? oh, after the upgrade the new methods require attention to EACH STUDENT to notice his/her feelings, non verbal signs and adjust the delivery method according to individual needs. So how a teacher should do that with 30 kids in the class? In my training system the limitation is to 12 delegates (I am talking about adults) especially to allow the implementation of these modern delivery techniques… limited to 12 because this is the capacity of a trainer to handle in order to be efficient… we valorize efficiency.  The debate could go on for hours… I only wanted you to see how important is a good overview of the entire educational process.

It is easy for the butterfly to decide to sit and modify one flower now because the butterfly is beautiful, the flower is beautiful, the moment is beautiful so he flaps his wings in the applauds of the press 🙂 Let’s transform this butterfly into a bee who will sit on the first flower, evaluate it, extract the polen if ok, then move to the second one fast, to the third and so on while marking the paths, establishing an efficient process which can be reused tomorrow, the day after and so on 🙂

Both the bee and butterfly must start somewhere, with the first flower, this is why I salute again the idea of the education minister and kindly ask him to accept the opinion of a trainer sitting at the 10’th floor of a sky tower trying to be more efficient for the training next week.  

I only scratched the surface of a very deep iceberg and would like to ask all the specialists in education or psychology or anyone with a studied opinion to share it. If many voices raise  maybe a young politician who is rising now will pick the vibrations and implement some of them

Enjoy the weekend and give your children a break whether the order will become real or not!       

 

 

 

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