> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Is school a window on the world?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Is school a window on the world?

On a previous post Tony suggested I do some sort of survey on what young people think education is. Ask pupils what they think they are doing at school and I am sure they would say things like ' to learn stuff' or if they are older, 'to get qualifications'. They have a pretty good idea why they are there.
Or have they?
If you are a teacher, or at school, or in education, do you think that schools (and colleges and universities) are giving pupils what they should be? What do you think they should be doing?
Have you learnt anything at school which you think was a waste of time?
Just to start the ball rolling... I had an interesting conversation with one of my classes recently on something that was never (to my memory) broached when I was at school: money. In the course of discussing a character in a novel, we ended up talking about debt, and someone asked what a mortgage was. I couldn't help noticing the interest that was stirred up by this question.
I know schools provide some Financial education. I've taught it in a Social and Vocational Skills (SVS) class. It comes under the heading of 'life skills'. I can imagine it being a small part of several subjects. I wonder whether it -and other skills like it - should be given greater prominence in our curriculum.
What do you think? Do we need more of this sort of education for real life? Or would that be too functional an approach to education? Are some sorts of knowledge more important than others?
Please comment.


sid said...

Strangely enough, I just finished writing a long post which touches on that very subject... Essentially, I think my conclusion was that we are learning The Wrong Things, but I didn't really have any solutions to the problem.

Yes, I know, its late.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

do you feel that your school education prepared you for your university education? What sort of things were 'The Wrong Things'?

Tony O'Neill said...

I have many thoughts/reflections on what the point of education is but I'll start with this. One of the things that struck me when I was teaching was that children by and large (teenage rebellion notwithstanding) believe what teachers tell them. This may seem a bit obvious but it is the implications that are important. Many teachers take the approach of telling the pupils "learn this stuff and you'll pass your exams and move on to a better life". I think it is assumed that a better life is a job that pays well. Maybe I'm just being cynical but I think it's true. More later.

rach moran said...


Just happened to spot this post.

Strangely enough (or is it?) in school (primary and secondary) I was never taught a single thing about money, or how to "make money work for me", although my secondary school was a small private catholic girls school which prided itself on preparing each individual for the life after school (who knew such existed!).

But lucky for me both my parents are 'good with money' which meant that I have received what I would consider to be ample teaching on the subject.

My dad recently gave me a book to read. It's called Rich Dad Poor Dad. Such a title left me feeling slightly apprehensive but none the less I began to read. It's not a book that one would consider to be 'light reading', however it is a book that changed my way of thinking - as regards money anyway.

Kiyosaki brings some very interesting concepts to light within it. One of the first things that he spoke about was the lack of ones understanding of how to make money work for them. He explains it all incredibly well; I would not be able to do him justice.

He began learning about money at the age of nine and has done remarkably well for himself. Why we don't get taught these things in school is beyond me, and one of the things he has a bone about also.

He's developed different packages (board games, video games...) that can be used at home and in schools.

I would highly recommend this guy, some things may be slightly too American but if you can get passed that aspect of it all of his books are a good read and not a bad lesson - at least better than you'll get in any school on the subject.

You write quite similarly to someone else I know... :)

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...


Thanks for your comments on this. Like you, I've relied on other people's advice and bitter experience :)

I must have a search for Mr Kiyosaki's stuff and maybe post a link to it in a future post. I have been thinking of writing another post on financial education.

Perhaps the individual you refer to at the end of your comment might be persuaded to read it...

Please post again, thanks!