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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Charlie checks out the new Department for Education website

Applied to o2's think big jobby today. Hope something comes of that. It looks really cool.

I also filmed charlie having a play (as a young person) on the DoE website; THE official website for education in the UK. You would have thought it'd be a bit more about young people...

Here's an example of a website that's not even specifically about young people (like education SHOULD be) and it's still 74 times more exciting.
I've been thinking a lot about The social network, how in a way, this is the most exciting part of this whole project, because it's kinda all in our heads, and there's every reason we'll create the next big thing and massively improve our education system forever. It's like being pregnant. I feel like...a pregnant man. Course it might all go tits up and be a £35 grand website that's only used by me and a couple of my mates who feel sorry for me.

Latest ideas
  1. Facebook app
    Or is it even an app? Something that can save you having to log in, it just pulls all your details out your FB profile (verifying your age and stuff). Also recognises your school - "would you like to review your school (or raise problems with it/suggest improvements/view what other people have put)?
    It could also say which of your friends also went to your school and would you like to invite them to Change The Future?
    It'd also promote CTF on your wall...
  2. Google
    One day we've got to partner with google... They also have a database of all the schools in the UK, so if Nick Gribb doesn't ever get back to me I'll give up and try google instead.
    My dream is that the young peoples' school reviews will have an 'overral rating' which google applies (along with the conclusion from the review) to each school, so like, on Google maps, you can click a school, and similar to when you're searching for hostels or food places, you get a review pulled from Change The Future.

The thing is, either I'm completely deluded, or we really do need CTF, because school is fairly crap for most people, and it doesn't need to be that way.
For some it's a total trauma, but for most maybe, I think it's largely enjoyable at the time, often cause of friends but also you do obviously get a few amazing teachers who make all the difference...
BUT you still have those problems
  • You forget the vast majority of what you learn (almost immediately)
  • The vast majority of what you learn is not very relevant in your day to day life, or applicable to the things you want to do
  • There's so much we're passionate about and we would learn 10 times more if we were allowed to focus more on THOSE things rather than being forced to be 'well rounded' (basically be taught all the same stuff as the next person) ...Obviously it's good to have broad knowledge, but if it gets to the point where the student is switching off and doesn't relate to it at all and is forgetting it (even getting punished for distraction and restlessness) is it worth it?
  • School could be so much more fun. I really thought the purpose of life is to have fun. What's the best thing a good job and good income and good lifestyle can do for you, if not make you happy?? So why are we all obsessed with this idea that we have to endure loads of stuff we HATE in order to suddenly reach a place where everything's great and happy?!
    Does that REALLY happen, or should we just start practicing doing what makes us happy before we forget how to do it anymore and get old and boring and locked into a lifestyle of crap we hate?

I just hope that there is some magical way that you can get student + exstudents who really don't give a shit right now, to start thinking about how good stuff COULD be in school, in their education... and see their education as a beautiful, powerful thing that can bring them everything they need to get where they wanna be, not this chore they just have to turn up to and deliver work to so they don't get in trouble.
I think there is a way, but I need to learn more about apathetic people and how to reach them.


  1. with regards to the google idea involving reviews of the schools, is "the good schools guide" ( www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk ) the sort of thing you were thinking of? that's been in existence since 1986...

    the idea of using the current pupils (or ex pupils) to provide the rating is biased as they have only seen their own school... if one school has hundreds of people who suck at learning they'll get an unfairly negative review next to a school of hundreds of people who love to learn.

    if people really choose exactly what they want to learn, how will they be examined? or will they not be examined, in which case how will industry be able to hire people who are right for the job? actually, i suppose you could move the examination to be part of the application for a job, therefore you'll only need learn what you want to do, and no unnecessary exams or lessons, with the exam coming when you actually need to utilise the knowledge... what do you say? i suppose there is a downfall there if you ever wish to change career path, might be a bummer if you had accidentally chosen all the wrong things when you were too young to know where you'd be? i dunno, all just thoughts...

  2. Edgar, you've made the first ever comment on the blog, and I think you bring up some great points.

    • It's very different to the good schools guide, mostly because of the reviews (and ratings) being made only by student and ex students.
    I would like to think most people agree ex students are well qualified to say how good their school was, because now they've left, they can test the tools that their school (hopefully) has equipped them with;
    Do they have a sense of direction and passion? Do they feel confident, and have an idea of how to get where they want to be?
    Are they happy? etc

    • If one schools has hundreds of people who suck at learning, I would blame the school not the students.
    Who do you think of when you talk about students who suck at learning? Do you think they were born that way? Disabled?

    I do agree that it's a LOT of responsibility to give students (as young as 11) which is why we are really trying to make a big deal out of the SPOTLIGHT element of the website (getting students from different schools to show each other what their schools are pioneering or doing differently, and what the effects are) -this is a major effort to burst the self-contained bubble that most schools live in.
    There's a few schemes on the topic of 'sharing best practice' and general training, but it's not nearly open enough, and it needs to be delivered by the students since it's for them and about their learning.

    • Also the forum will be shiny, original, modern and a great place for everyone to talk about school and have a good mind-opening dialogue and challenging debate. Also essential to reviewing schools well. (It's possible that we'll only allow reviewing of schools once the user has partaken in the SPOTLIGHT and forum community a bit)

    • While I won't let my personal stance corrupt this project (as it's not about my personal opinions) my own stance (currently) is that examination and tests generally, are completely stupid. Like, it makes me wretch even thinking about how ridiculous it is that we have GCSEs, and even A-levels to a large extent. Kinda even degrees.

    I will write a post specifically on this, but in summary, I think it makes the whole education system suddenly representative and tokenistic instead of real.
    If we didn't have examination at all, the only incentives would be:

    1. If I want a job, I have to be able to prove myself to the employer, hence I will learn loads

    2. I really enjoy it.

    Where as now, the incentive to learn is:

    1. So I get a piece of paper saying I passed this test (which I guess emulates an employer assessing me). Unfortunately, but INCREDIBLY unsurprisingly, this makes the teaching completely geared toward passing this test -a mock assessment. Everything becomes false.
    It becomes all about cramming, forget what you're interested in, follow each page of this book, at the same speed as everyone else, in the same order, and get the same piece of paper as everyone else at the end, get the same grade as everyone else, wear the same uniform as everyone else.

    It's all backwards. The jobs available in the REAL world are never set in stone. We don't have to fit into them. We do what we want and create the jobs. It's not like the majority of jobs today even existed when the people working them were studying!!


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