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|Subject: Re: A case study of perhaps unsurmountable weaknesses in our education system
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Date Posted: 13:28:13 01/09/00 Sun
In reply to:
's message, "Re: A case study of perhaps unsurmountable weaknesses in our education system" on 04:58:51 01/07/00 Fri
You are correct to note the mismatch between what is taught in school and how the citizenry interpret this in their own world. Teachers and students don't often understand the link between curriculum and meaning in the daily lives of people in the school communities. Some commentators have suggested that this is partly due to the manner in which the curriculum is structured, the prescriptive nature of the school syllabus and the emphasis on inspections and promotions. As a result many teachers would rather be on good terms with the inspectors and get promoted than attempt unorthodox teaching styles that is at variance with the prescribed teaching guides. Still other commentators argue that the system is built for uniformity than diversity in the treatment of the curriculum. I consider these to be fundamental as I make observations on the way of the Americans. There is a lot experimentation and individual teachers are aiming for excellence in the way they make education meaningful to students. The skills are strongly integrated with the factors of USA life and its socio-economic imperatives. There is a lot of challenge to the students to apply the skills by researching their work and the expectations to present quality product/assignment.
The philosophical orientations of education and the preambles of the curriculum as to the needs of the country seem to be universal. However, the problem as already stated elsewhere in this thread, and as you correctly identified is the failure to take account of regional and provincial differences. There is over emphasis on uniformity and the overwhelming oversight of the state through the inspectorial system and the control of financial resources by Waigani [Talk about the fallacy of the Organic law on Provincial and local level governments].
Curriculum development professors often argue that curriculum has its meaning in the context of the student's community and the socio-economic environment of the learners world. This can be taken to mean that the four instruments of learning [language, mathematics, natural science and social science] ought to be understood and taught to inform on the learners the meaning of knowledge in that context. The challenge then is for the teacher to interpret the general curriculum and build in the necessary ingredients that satisfies the community and socio-economic environments. But PNGian teachers are ill prepared for this since many serve in other provinces. Similarly, teacher education has failed so far to prepare well rounded/versatile teachers who are confident to extend pedagogy beyond the prescriptions of the Department of Education. Many lessons are entirely boring.
I also agree that foreign educational process or the intellectual thought is a foreign concept and we might be expecting PNGian teachers and students too much to master the different knowledge bases in the shortest time possible. Perhaps English could be taught by persons for whom English is a first language or with good command of the language and math by math majors at the undergraduate level. One writer suggested this and raising the basic qualification of teachers at the bachelor's degree in one of the last pages on this forum.
As I am reminded of the need to suggest options I recall the point made in paragraph 1 where develop countries make an extra effort to integrate knowledge and practice. I consider Maths and Science, two subjects most dreaded by PNGians and how they can be made interesting for students if students are shown how these subjects relate to their practical experiences. Teach one to count 1,2,3,4, and then set them an assignment to count everyone in the village or the empty SP bottles men consume in the house. Or how about a leaf and stem exercise, or a frequency distributions, which students in some countries are learning in elementary education? Well at this stage of development the onus must on the teachers and the education department. I cannot blame the parents if they are illiterate. Now if I was politician I would probably replace the Secretary for education with someone who will not only attend to the teacher preparation program, but give equal attention to literacy among the parents so that they can get the benefit of understanding education and its meaning in life. Or well informal and non-formal education is different things for anther posting.
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