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SA teacher "forced to quit" after teaching evolution.

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« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2012, 09:02:20 AM »

Wow. That's interesting. I always thought the whole BODMAS thing was just a guideline. I wasn't even aware that division was supposed to happen before multiplication. I always figured they carried equal importance ( ie. 3 x 8 ÷ 2 = 12 no matter which you did first.) I also found the 3/4 - 3/8 + 1/8 solution confusing. Wouldn't it have been much simpler to just use the lowest common numerator? ie. 6/8 - 3/8 + 1/8 = 4/8 ? Surely that should be one of the first lessons in fractions?
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« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2012, 10:04:56 AM »

Thanks for your explanation, brianvds.  Very interesting.  I’ve always viewed OBE with considerable suspicion because I’ve seen the mess it wreaks, even among well-to-do kids, in subjects like science and mathematics where you simply can’t escape certain rigours that are integral to those subjects.  In mathematics and science, it very much does matter exactly how you analysed a problem before proceeding to solve it.

Yes, indeed: it is all very well to have kids "explore for themselves" to a certain extent, but they have to be led through the process. This may be possible in schools where there are 15 kids in a class; how do you do it when there are 70 in a class?

It's not just science and math either: I notice that kids are not taught such elementary things as cursive writing anymore. They are allowed to work out their own way of writing cursively, with the result that most of them write so illegibly you cannot make out head or tail of what they wrote.

Anyway, last year I had an opportunity to observe the result of OBE in Sweden, where it is supposedly implemented with great success (if I am not mistaken, the government imported Scandinavian "experts in education" to help us redesign our education system). I worked for some months as private tutor, and one of my clients was a guy from Sweden who is working here for a year and wanted me to assist his son with grade seven work. I was flabbergasted: it takes the kid a minute or two of slow, painstaking labour to write even the simplest sentence, he cannot keep his writing on a line, and writes in a handwriting that resembles that of a grade one kid, and is virtually illegible, with the letters all different sizes and shapes.

He doesn't know his tables. He cannot work with even elementary fractions. He has never in his life heard of long division. He doesn't know how to use a dictionary. His mother told me she was astonished to see just how high the standards of schools are here in South Africa (!!), because what we do here in grade 7 is considered fairly advanced high school work in Sweden. Our kids also get (by their standards) astonishing amounts of homework - their policy is to not push the kids too hard, so that they don't develop an aversion to learning.

Yup, that's what OBE has done for the world capital and inventor of it (though I hasten to add that perhaps I should not conclude too much from a single sample).

Postmodernism for the aspiring educator!?  I suppose it makes a weird kind of sense when one takes into account that “offend no one” and “respect all ideas and cultures” (as long as you pay your taxes) are central tenets of this government.  The only mystery is why they don’t do away altogether with objective competency assessments like matric and teaching diplomas because after all postmodernism is based on the idea that objective truth simply doesn’t exist.

Probably only a question of time. :-)
Not that it is literally postmodernism, but a lot of it comes across that way. They have become obsessed with equality, and one gets the impression that much of it is an excuse to "pass one, pass all" so that everyone can finally be equal. Alas, one cannot legislate reality out of existence, and in the meantime, as I mentioned before, the system actually works to make the inequality worse rather than better.

Oh, incidentally, I have finally discovered where the term "learner" comes from (it is one of those new-fangled terms that irritates me to no end). It was a term used by one Vygotsky in his theory of education. Now, on the whole his theory is actually not bad, although much of it boils down to common sense. "Learner" was basically just a somewhat technical term he decided on. I don't think he ever intended that everyone from writers of policy documents to frickin' newspapers should replace "pupil" with "learner," but it is very typical of the government to think you can change the world by changing words. Just about everything they do nowadays is just for the show. The whole thing has now become so utterly wrong-headed that I have no hope whatever of it being fixed any time soon. The best any individual teacher can hope for is to get a job at one of those rare schools where there is still some order and discipline, and where the school manages effectively to deceive the department into thinking they are doing OBE when they are in fact sticking to the methods that have worked well for centuries.

I leave you with this: part of an essay that Paul McCartney wrote when he was ten. Note his impeccably neat handwriting and use of language. I am told by the old folks that in those days, this was the rule rather than the exception:

We are fixing things that ain't broke.

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« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2012, 10:39:00 AM »

OBE is being phased out, forget the name of the new one, but it is higher up in the thread.

I haven't heard much that is good about the new one either though.
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