The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Students should be able to learn whatever they want in school

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2017 Category: Education
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 185 times Debate No: 105163
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
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So, most public and private schools in the UK give no responsibility to the students for their own education. Students are forced to learn what independent exam boards that know /nothing/ about their abilities or interests, say they should learn.

This is the same throughout their whole childhood. Up until GCSEs all students must learn exactly the same thing, and even during GCSEs and A-levels students get limited decisions. Okay, you may bring up the argument that GCSEs and A-levels do offer some choices, but the reality is that choice means nothing, as students are still having information forced on them. They are being told they can't be trusted to think for themselves. What the hell kind of a message is that?

Parents seem to think that if they are not pushed to learn, then they will play video games all day, that they will make nothing of themselves. I would argue that students are actually very self-motivated. From birth they quickly learn how to walk, talk, tie their shoelaces, everything that they need to learn to develop, and get along in life. So where did this idea come from that, by the time they reach age 5, they suddenly need someone else's input to learn? That they won't naturally be curious about learning to read, write, and learn maths, learn about the world around them?
It's only when we're enrolled into traditional education that students stop being self-motivated. Suddenly 6 hours per day of the freedom to be (God forbid) naturally curious is taken from them. Suddenly, learning becomes a chore. And as they grow older, this becomes more and more evident to them.
Traditional education is considered something that students have to suffer and get through to prepare them for the future.

I would argue that students need to be able to focus on what they want to focus on. They shouldn't have to be influenced in any way by what anyone else wants them to focus on.

That's why The Sudbury Model of education is arguably the best model of education. It may sound like an extreme one, but it's one which has actually been proven to be effective; students are completely responsible for their education; i.e. what they learn and how they learn it. In a study by Sudbury Valley School, they found that of their former students, 42% of the students who responded to the survey are either self employed or involved in entrepreneurial situations(1). Which makes sense, as they have learned the skills of responsibility and thinking for themselves through the Sudbury education system.

Enormous pressure is put onto students to achieve good grades, as they are told that GCSEs, and later A-levels mean the difference between life or death. (What do you mean I'm exaggarating, it sounds better lol)
On average students take around 10 GCSEs. I took 13. Whose idea was it that more is better? Students have enough stress as it is, going through the teenage years.
Thankfully, we have started to see a realisation among exam boards that this 'exam factory' approach is not effective for students. Chief executive of AQA, Andrew Hall, says that students should take no more than '8 GCSEs' because they are being robbed of the ability to develop key life skills, by doing things like community volunteering, work experience and extracurricular activities (2). (Also I think just the very idea of is better than anything I ever learned in school)
However I would disagree with Hall in that GCSEs teach us anything we couldn't learn ourselves if we really needed to.
For example, in the Sudbury model of education, none of the students are forced to learn basic arithmetic, reading and writing. Yet all of them learn for themselves at some point during their education(3). Of course a child would be naturally curious in such things, they see a poster with text on it, they're going to think 'I wonder what this means?' and they would naturally learn how to read it.
Just like they would naturally try to learn economics, or textiles if they were interested in it. Except it would be fun, and they could be specific about what they want to learn, unlike GCSEs.

All students need are an environment in which learning is encouraged, and teachers that allow them to truly learn and help them to learn without telling them they can't, or they're learning the wrong thing.

(1) Greenberg, D., & and Sadofsky, M. Legacy of Trust: Life After the Sudbury Valley School Experience (1992) (Sudbury Valley School Press; Framingham, MA) pp. 249
(2) (retrieved 18/11/17)
(3)YouTube - 'Sudbury Schools: #5: Reading, writing and arithmetic' by 'kapriole' (18/11/17)

Also - (18/11/17)

What do you think? Hopefully that I'm wrong.
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Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by emsiblook 8 months ago
The main way that humans learn, and keep information, is through continued, active recall over increasingly longer periods of time each recall session. Information that is accessed more often, and that is of greater importance leads to a stronger recall(1).

Therefore a human would naturally learn the key skills, and learn what they are interested in etc. through active trial-and-error, through experience. Not by trying to memorise random facts 'for the exam'. People have to be attentive and interested in what they're learning for it to be encoded in their long-term memory. Most people can't say they do remember the quadratic equation, how they annotated Of Mice and Men, how the periodic table works, etc.

And for good reason! Not many people can say they'll ever use that information again. The brain knows what's relevent to us and what we really need to remember; things like cooking, social skills, typing, the odd bit of maths, responsibility. Things that children naturally pick up through experiencing the world; and which can be reinforced in a Sudbury school.

To conclude my point, studies like this fairly recent one(2), show that when people decide for themselves what to learn, they retain the information significantly better than if someone else decides what they should learn.
There have been many studies to back this up. Here's a longitudinal one on Japanese students (3)

(2) Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R. M. (2002). The paradox of achievement: The harder you push, the worse it gets. In J. Aronson (Ed.)
(3)Oga-Baldwin, W. L. Q., Nakata, & Ryan, R. M. (2017). Motivating young learners: A longitudinal model of self-determined motivation in elementary school foreign language classes. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 49, 140-150.
Posted by KwLm 8 months ago
The problem with the Sudbury model is it's selective information that comes of it, it doesn't show the huge number of people it doesn't work for, as every human as a different way that information is stored and received.
Posted by emsiblook 8 months ago
If everything that we learn in traditional education is what we /need/ to learn, then how have students in a completely self-directed 'progressive' education system such as the Sudbury model coped just as well as those in traditional education, and in most cases, /better/?

What we 'need' to know, we will pick up naturally. Much like how as soon as my Nan left the education system at the age of fifteen, she quickly picked up the skills of cooking, paying taxes, working, and keeping a house. Because she had to, not because she was taught. She hadn't learned any of that stuff at school. It was experience, and responsibility that taught her.
But that didn't excuse the 10 years of pointless 'education' she went through. She could have picked up reading, writing and arithmetic by herself if and when needed (yes, this happens; proof given in my round 1 argument), just like you learn to walk and talk as a baby.

All that is needed is the environment in which learning is encouraged. That is why I wouldn't encourage the parents to be the sole teachers. All parents are different and some value education less than others.
School is needed to foster that natural curiousity which we all have, at our own pace.

This is how people want to be doctors, scientists, artists. They pursue it themselves. They have a natural self-motivation. Self-directed learning allows them to focus entirely on what /they/ want to do.

Experience is the true teacher.

You haven't even considered my arguments, you're just inferring things from my age. If you show me why I'm wrong, I'll consider your comment.
Posted by KwLm 8 months ago
If you're age on the profile is correct, then that explains your mis-understanding of having the need for a basic education, learning what you want to know and learning what you need to know are two completely different settings, this is something you understand more of as you grow.
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