Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Saturday, 25 October 2014

nothing particularly boaty................

The chance of getting out on the water this half term looks remote; the next three days are taken up with a very welcomed visit by my sister's family; then its three days away up north with 'her in-doors', followed by a day visit to some historical sites with my son. That leaves the last weekend and alas all of that will be taken up by the seven supermarket re-useable carrier bags full of school work currently residing in the car boot.
Ho hum, that is the way it goes. Every sailor knows the tensions of family and work commitments.

What has been exercising more of what little brain power I have at the moment hasn't been sailing but rather UCAS! Its UCAS application time and my son, along with all his friends at school are immersed in the annual writing of the university personal statement!

For the last few years I have sensed a struggle! The student's struggle to make himself or herself sound passionate about the subject that they wish to pursue at undergraduate level. I'm not saying I don't have passionate young geographers. I do. However, their ability to evidence their passion for the subject beyond what they have learned at school is clearly an issue. I cannot really remember the last time a sixth form geographer burst through my door enthusing about a geographical tomb or article they had read and how it had set their curiosity alight. Such is the life they lead that sixth formers merely want to know what will get them the A grade; the UCAS points to their chosen course; nothing 'extra' matters. Between three A Levels, an AS level, jobs and whatever else life throws at them, that desire to do the extra beyond the syllabi, just for the sake of learning for learning's sake.....seems to have disappeared, despite my herculean best efforts to imbibe them with a growth mindset!

I wonder what that says about us as a nation? Have recent governments with their zeal for targets, comparison indicators and performance related criteria really caused the teaching profession to lose its way? Have we sacrificed 'the process and passion of learning for learning's sake' for just 'looking good' in the performance league tables? Are we spawning a generation who will never go beyond what is demanded of them in their daily work; because all we end up doing is teaching to the syllabus so that they pass exams?

My students are struggling to exemplify how they have pursued their passion for their subject beyond what I have done with them. Their crestfallen faces show they just don't understand the point I am making as I review their statements with them. Perhaps, I am not making it clearly.

After 33 years in the profession, I think I have reached a sad contradictory day. I inspire passion for the subject in my students whilst they are in school. Many want to take it on at university but I fail to inspire them to take it further, beyond what we do in the syllabi....that extra reading of a topic we are not doing for the exam but which is of just brilliant geographical interest anyway......I think it is time to retire as soon as I can, for I fear I am know longer doing them justice.


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Excuse my French but that's bo***ocks... :o) 20 odd years of points, league tables and all the rest of it, the level of competitiveness involved with just being a teenager these days (I blame the media), and the lack of time, has resulted in an entirely different teenage experience to the one I and I suspect you had... back then there was time to indulge those flights of fancy and interest -- these days they are ruthlessly results driven... it's like learning to drive, you don't these days, you learn to pass the test... you are patently a good teacher - don't you dare retire before you have to.. :o)

steve said...

Um....maybe. I love my a level groups. They re amazing young people but I do think they are as you say driven to achieving what is needed and nothing more beyond. And you re right. It isn't heir fault at all.
They hate making mistakes, many hate redrafting. Thre isn't time for that.....and yet