I went to a geography conference today, in Livingston. At least that’s one thing that it has to take away from its absolutely digusting and depressing building and people.
My takeaway impression of the event? It was OK. I got a day off school, but it meant I had to get up early (woke at 6.30am!) and returned later (10 minutes later actually). In the conference, we were spoken to, lectured basically, on an overview of a few of the topics of the Higher Geography course. There was one guy who said, about every 30 seconds, the phrase “in actual fact”, and that amused me rather a lot.
The thing is, I don’t know about everyone else, but the conference didn’t really help me with my geography studies. The travelling there, the wasted time waiting for other schools to arrive and the covering of topics that I hadn’t studied yet are downsides to an event which – in my eyes – has no benefit. Nothing more was achieved than if my own geography teacher had given me a handout of the key points that were mentioned.
That’s what teachers don’t get. You don’t need to go to great lengths to put on a conference to teach us basic things about the subject. Firstly, we should know these things, though admittedly that is usually not the case. Secondly, whilst pupils may seem to like the idea of the conferences, it isn’t because (as the teachers think) they learn more, or get a lot out of the experience, but because they want a bit of a skive. That’s certainly why I was looking forward to today.
Small classes work best. The teachers have a relationship with their pupils: they know what is well understood, and they know where to focus their energies and where to help. We don’t want lecturers talking to 150 people about a particular topic and getting no feedback – that’s worse than university, and we’re not even old enough to buy cigarettes any more, so don’t give us that treatment.
Simple teaching works best too, in my opinion. No fancy presentations, pathetic and boring group work, nor arts and crafts to make a point. A good teacher should be able to inform his/her pupils about a particular subject without having to result to crazy, confusing and distracting aids. That’s why I like maths – here’s the theory, this is the proof, now apply it. I think all of my subjects are that sort of thing.
Conferences and such like, and the advent of the internet and web 2.0 may seem exciting and to open up new doors, but I don’t think it is at all necessary to employ such techniques to help education. Just give us the information we need, and let us learn it. Leave the internet for fun stuff.
I’m sure my views will change.