Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Is this all your own work, Tompkins?

There is a good article by Frank Furedi in today's Guardian. He looks at the factors that have led to an increase in plagiarism and cheating in schools and universities:

From day one in primary school ... [parents] are told that the performance of their children is intimately linked to how much support they get at home. In a desperate attempt to improve standards of education, parents' concern for their children is manipulated to draw them in as unpaid teachers. The outsourcing of education by schools encourages a dynamic where many parents become far too directly involved in producing their children's homework.

Surveys suggest that parents spend on average six or seven hours a week on homework duties.

This article is also discussed by Scott Burgess. And see Furedi's own website for more of his articles.

3 comments:

phil said...

I wonder if the biggest factor is the increasing volume of testing in schools, and the prescriptive teaching that goes with that. If you go through the system being exhorted to learn and reproduce "the right answer", unsurprising that when you get to university you can still not do much more than reproduce material.

Will said...

And one problem with parents teaching - as opposed to actually doing the homework themselves - is that they're not qualified, so there's no guarantee (and no check) they're doing it right.

Mark said...

I think Phil makes the point perfectly; in order to survive in today's education climate teachers are sadly having to "teach to the test". Failure to do so risks "poor" results, having to justify yourself to the school's leadership and ultimately a close inspection from OFSTED. Most pupils don't learn to think but rather simply to answer. There's a tragic irony that measures supposedly designed to address the concerns of employers, or "raise standards", actually produce less employable individuals.

Until we accept that education is about learning, a process that involves both success and failure, things can only get worse.

I object, however, to Frank Furedi's reference to the "outsourcing of education by schools". This suggests that parents are being expected to educate children, as a substitute for the school. Worse still is the implication that education is the business of schools and parents should keep their hands off. I can't agree with either statement.

Having worked in schools in challenging circumstances, as they are called, one of the greatest challenges is to get parents to work in partnership with the school. All too often parents are willing to abdicate responsibility, not only for their child's education but also their social development, discipline, nourishment and even health!

No, parents should not be doing their children's homework but I defy anyone to disagree that it's only a recent development. The difference is that more pupils and parents are being pressured to "suceed" today than 20 or 30 years ago.