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Thread: How to reform the Continental European education system ?

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    Post How to reform the Continental European education system ?



    Many European countries can pride themself on having one of the best education system in the world (in fact, I can't think of better ones elsewhere). They are particularily good at giving students a broad general education, so that everyone finishing highschool should know enough history, geography, foreign languages, maths and sciences not to look stupid. Education is completely free, even at university.

    Yet, there are many problems. Here is the case of Belgium (where, btw, education is compulsory until 18), which is quite similar to the French, Dutch, German or Italian systems.

    1) Curriculum problems : too many academic or theoretical subjects that are not useful in real life to get a job, except in research or teaching.

    => possible solution : introduce more useful and practical subjects, such as computering (from how to use a computer to webdesign and programmation), law, accounting and various categories of economy-related subjects.

    I would reduce the number of hours in maths and sciences in exchange for computering and accounting, which are in fact practical applications of these (especially maths).

    I would replace literature and a good chunk of one's mother-tongue by law. Legal vocabulary is also part of one's mother's tongue, and is more useful in daily life for everyone than poetry or 17th-century plays.

    I would keep history and geography compulsory, but replace geography by geopolitics and economics (if fact, it is already how it was in my highschool).

    I would add compulsory philosophy courses instead of morals or religion, and instead of some of the mother tongue's hours. Incredible as it is for a secular state, most Belgian schools still have (or had when I was there) compulsory religion (i.e. Catholic propaganda) classes. This is because most of the schools are owned and managed by Catholic institutions, apart from the poorly rated government-schools (usually for the lower class and non-European immigrants). Religion classes should have been banned long ago. I spent my entire school life arguing with my religion teachers at every single lesson - which didn't give me a good reputation among the Catholic directors of the school.

    I would put an end to compulsory Latin or Greek everywhere, and keep it as an option (it is already the case in most schools), but have 2 or 3 compulsory modern languages. The EU has already pledged to introduce 2 foreign EU languages in all primary schools soon. Good step. However, I would change a lot the way languages are taught, and allow more options. For instance, most Belgian schools force students to have Dutch (in French-speaking schools) or French (in Dutch-speaking schools), even before English. Of course these are the two nationial languages, but it would be much easier domestically and internationally if everyone spoke English well first.

    Another important change would be for all schools to offer as many optional subjects as possible, so as to increase students' motivation by having them choose the subjects they want to study (well, as much as possible).

    I would also introduce classes divided by ability for each subject - or at the very least maths, sciences and foreign languages. The highschool diploma would have a A-level system like in the UK for each subject. Ideally, gifted children should be given the chance to specialise early in their subject(s) of predilection, so that they can pass some university-level exams in highschool and thus be dispensed in these courses at university. In other words, it would be a head start at university for brilliant students, and they also wouldn't need to take the university entrance exam for that subject.

    2) University funding and entrance exams

    European universities are usually exclusively state-funded. This is a double problem in my opinion. First of all, it consumes a lot of tax-payer's money, and therefore requires higher tax levels. The 2nd problem is that universities want as many students as possible because they get paid per registered head.

    University extrance exams do not exist in Belgium, except at some non-universitary tertiary education schools (usually called "college" in English speaking countries). The results are disastrous. When I studied economics, there were 600 students in a single auditorium in the first year, then 200 in the 2nd year, 100 in the 3rd, and finally 80 in the 4th. With a 10-15% gradutation rate, it is self-evident that entrance exams are needed, as so many people are wasting precious years of their lives for nothing, and cost a lot of tax-payer money. So why hasn't it changed yet ? Because universities are happy to get more funds, even if that means that the quality is mediocre with 600 students per professor.

    Entrance exams are not as an easy solution as it seems. University could make the exams too easy to get more students (and funds). So what about giving the funds only for students that pass their academic year ? This is even more stupid, as the level would immediately go down so that universities get what they want - money !

    My idea would be to have entrance exams supervised directly by the state (who granst the money), so that they are difficut enough, and that after that most of the students manage to graduate.

    Universities could get more funds from philanthropists, former students and especially companies (who get the best students in exchange). Education should remain free in any case.

    3) length of schooling and university.

    The number of years of compulsory education varies between EU countries. Belgium has one of the longest (compulsory until 18 years old). In the UK, school is compulsory from 5 years old instead of 6 elsewhere.

    In Germany, there are 13 years of primary and secondary education before univesity (except in 1 state where it's 12 like elsewhere). What is more, German people cannot skip a year, if for instance a 6-year old child can already read and write and has a good level enough in maths. In most other countries it is possible. Another constraint is that students enter school according to their age during the school year (starting from August or September in Germany) rather calendar year. It means that a child born in June and another one in September of the same year will be in different school years in Germany. In my opinion, those two systems (no skipping and age according to school year) are ridiculous and should be changed, especially that German students already have 1 more year before university, and military service for men. So, some German people enter university 3 years later than other European (even 4 years later than British people who start school at 5 years old).

    I don't mind that compulsory education start at 5 or 6 or finishes at 16, 17 or 18 (not before though). But instead of the age, I think that compulsory education should be about the level of education attained. So if one has to repeat a year once or twice, they should stay one or two years longer at school than others. Likewise, those who skip a year or progress more quickly in the class-by-ability system would be able to complete compulsory education earlier than others. This would be a good motivation to take school more seriously to avoid repeating a year and try to get the best grades possible. Those who complete "compulsory education" qualify to enter tertiary education, whatever their age. Those who fail more than 3 or 4 years could try to pass an easier version of the final test or drop some subjects, but would not be allowed in tertiary education.

    University should probably be 3 years (like in English-speaking countries) instead of 4, and be more specialised (i.e. drop optional subjects of general knowledge, as people can learn them by themselves or would have learnt them at school)
    Last edited by Maciamo; 16-09-05 at 08:12.

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    interesting thought, indeed. I know my post won`t be clear, but i need more time and space (and research =) )to express more thoroughly what i think about it

    Many European countries can pride themself on having one of the best education system in the world (in fact, I can't think of better ones elsewhere). They are particularily good at giving students a broad general education, so that everyone finishing highschool should know enough history, geography, foreign languages, maths and sciences not to look stupid.
    We did pride urselves with best educational system. It was pretty good and free. But now it needs to be changed.
    "...should know enough..." the key word is should, pretty often it doesn`t happen.
    I`d start with some school problems

    1) Curriculum problems : too many academic or theoretical subjects that are not useful in real life to get a job, except in research or teaching.
    that`s true for both: school and university. Nowdays everyone admits that graduates lack the experience, they have the knowledge but don`t know how to apply it. And it is not rare when graduates find out that what hey`ve learnt is of no real use to anyone

    i would agree and disagree with some of your "possible solutions"

    I would reduce the number of hours in maths and sciences in exchange for computering and accounting, which are in fact practical applications of these (especially maths).
    i think that computering is important, as well as accounting, but so do math and science. The problem i see with them is following: at school we had physics, chemistry and biology, and in most of the cases it was just a theory almost apart from reality. In US high school to fill up the list of subjects i`ve picked up "Principles of technologies". I think it`s not a bad way to teach science since it not just explains laws of physics but shows their application in daily life in common technology and such, it connects theory and practice.
    Smth similiar can be done with chemestry (at least non-organic)
    (all these keeping in mind that there exists possibility for talented pupils to get different curriculum).
    I really don`t no how much of math can be given away. Math makes our brain work, it is also a language of many sciences

    I would replace literature and a good chunk of one's mother-tongue by law. Legal vocabulary is also part of one's mother's tongue, and is more useful in daily life for everyone than poetry or 17th-century plays.
    this one seems qiute objectionable to me. If it is about university - then fine, i`d agree that in this case law is more important. But if this is about school, then I let myself doubt. It is a disgrace when people can`t speak and write their mother-tongue well. I didn`t mind neither poetry nor any other literature (native or foreign). I don`t know how about Europe, but in RF we are supposed to write essays on staff we`ve read at class. These writings have to show our skills in logical reasoning and critical thinking, ability to analyse and make conclusions. Besides, some big works (books) are being discussed: its history, the plot, the characters, their behaviour and so on. It requires (and gives) some knowledge in psychology and phylosophy as well

    I would keep history and geography compulsory, but replace geography by geopolitics and economics (if fact, it is already how it was in my highschool).
    That`s what we have in RF (maybe, not enough of geopolitics). But yet, i can`t get rid of the feeling that geography (as subject) lacks smth. Perhaps, this is more to do with teaching methodics

    I would add compulsory philosophy courses instead of morals or religion, and instead of some of the mother tongue's hours. Incredible as it is for a secular state, most Belgian schools still have (or had when I was there) compulsory religion (i.e. Catholic propaganda) classes.
    Luckily we didn`t have any religious courses at school. But now there are talks: there should be one (up to idea of teaching them by orthodox priests). I hope this is not going to work! First of all our state is secular, and second - we live in multireligional country.
    I am not sure how much phylosophy school kids can handle, but history of religions (with all their pros and contras) might be not a bad idea after all.
    At universities we have 1 year of compalsory phylosophy course.

    but have 2 or 3 compulsory modern languages.
    I agree that there should be 2 foreign languages. One of them, more likely English, another - for a personal choice. But there smth has to be done with methodics. We study it for 6-7 years at school, but it is so rare that after it people can speak, read and understand well the language they studied

    Another important change would be for all schools to offer as many optional subjects as possible, so as to increase students' motivation by having them choose the subjects they want to study (well, as much as possible).
    That`s what i liked in US - optional subjects. The only problem with small schools and small towns - they might not have enough teachers and other resourses for such thing. And one more problem of modern society - teens are often not mature enough to pick courses not just for fun and easy learnig, but more likely for future benefit

    And one more (but not last, for sure) thing with growing and changing standards of education responsibilities and skills of teachers might not be able to grow fast enough to meet them. Some moderation needed to balance the demands of society and "qualities" of its human resourses (and not only human), and to meet the challenge of educational changes


    Sorry, i am short on time, so, my thought on universities i`ll post a bit later

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    Thanks for you feedback, Void.

    Quote Originally Posted by Void
    "...should know enough..." the key word is should, pretty often it doesn`t happen.
    I have my idea about how to change that. I have tested them on some people for geography at least. They were very bad at remembering country names, capital, etc. But in just a few hours I managed to make them remember most of the major countries over 5 continents. As one of my teacher said, there are no bad students, only bad teachers. The point is to understand how each person learns and teach them in a way that works for them. The drawback is that it only works when you can teach people individually. So it's fine for parents to learn teach their children this way, but at school, except if the parents were able to afford private teachers or classes were as small as 5 students per teacher, that might improve things. As it's unrealistic on a national scale, the only way is to teach the parents first.

    I am in favour of imposing a compulsory course in parenting, and anyone who wouldn't pass the test wouldn't be allowed to have children. If we were able to implement that worldwide, the population would certainly diminish, but those left would all be well-educated (not just intellectually, but also morally and psychologically) children and poverty and crime would drop dramatically. However, such a system will only be implemented when the world will have reached a level of civilisation higher than now.



    The problem i see with them is following: at school we had physics, chemistry and biology, and in most of the cases it was just a theory almost apart from reality. In US high school to fill up the list of subjects i`ve picked up "Principles of technologies". I think it`s not a bad way to teach science since it not just explains laws of physics but shows their application in daily life in common technology and such, it connects theory and practice.
    I agree with that. Also keep in mind that people can always decide to learn more maths and sciences as optional hours, and once they enter university, if that is really what they want. It's not very useful to impose so much math and sciences on all the people, as 90% of them are not going to need them in life. So just the basics should be compulsory. Logics and critical thinking are both more important in real life as they can be applied to almost anything (and not just work, but also private life).

    I really don`t no how much of math can be given away. Math makes our brain work, it is also a language of many sciences
    I would keep maths in primary school, but after that it should be replaced by logics, essays and critical thinkings. Maths is artifical, theoretical and mostly useless in real life (except for engineers), while logics is truly part of parcek of being a human and is applicable to anything.

    It is a disgrace when people can`t speak and write their mother-tongue well.
    Again, I would keep mother-tnogue classes as they are for the 6 years of primary school, but after it is anyway mostly literature, poetry, etc. Learning law (and politics, as they are closely related) certainly increases vocabulary in a more useful way than old-fashioned idioms and poetic language.

    I don`t know how about Europe, but in RF we are supposed to write essays on staff we`ve read at class. These writings have to show our skills in logical reasoning and critical thinking, ability to analyse and make conclusions.
    I also had that, but that is a part of the philosophy curriculum I was refering to.

    Besides, some big works (books) are being discussed: its history, the plot, the characters, their behaviour and so on. It requires (and gives) some knowledge in psychology and phylosophy as well
    This goes into the history and philosophy classes.

    I am not sure how much phylosophy school kids can handle, but history of religions (with all their pros and contras) might be not a bad idea after all.
    History of religion should be included in the philosophy classes. As for philosophy itself, I wouldn't even bother too much teaching about "philosophers" (i.e. the hsitory of philosophy) but the directly the important stuff : logics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemiology. It would be a major subject and hours would be taken on maths, sciences and mother-tongue classes.

    I agree that there should be 2 foreign languages. One of them, more likely English, another - for a personal choice. But there smth has to be done with methodics. We study it for 6-7 years at school, but it is so rare that after it people can speak, read and understand well the language they studied
    I know, that's a big problem. Personally I didn't learn much about languages at school. I learned almost everything by myself and by living the country where the language is spoken. However I have my idea about how to improve the teaching style dramatically. Rather than spreading x hours of classes over 6 years, it would be much more efficient to concentrate them all in 1 year. Inn addition, once this introductory year would be complete all highschool students would be obliged to go on an exchange programme abroad for 6 months or 1 year, which would count as a regular school year. This can only be achieved by standardising curriculums in the participating countries. Within the EU it is feasible (already exist at university), but in countries like Japan or the US, it would be quite hard (especially that exchange countries would also be further away).

    That`s what i liked in US - optional subjects. The only problem with small schools and small towns - they might not have enough teachers and other resourses for such thing.
    I know that's a problem. Maybe schools in small towns should work together to share some less common options, so that the students would have to go to these classes in one of the schools. If there is only one school in the region, then there is little to do (except maybe distance teaching via teleconferencing or the internet).

    And one more problem of modern society - teens are often not mature enough to pick courses not just for fun and easy learnig, but more likely for future benefit
    That's a problem, but they would probably mature faster once they realise their mistakes after one or two years. What's more, I would keep the subjects that are only necessary for specialists as options. As I said before, highschool students that have high scores in those subjects would be dispensed of those classes at university if they continue with the same orientation. This would work as a reward and increase their chances of graduating from university. This way, highschool students would think more carefully about the options they choose, and be more motivated about getting good results. If they don't, it will only mean more to study for them later, and maybe graduating from university 1 or 2 years later than those who studied well. It thus mean start working later and get their first job/salary later. Enough to make them think twice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    introduce more useful and practical subjects, such as computering (from how to use a computer to webdesign and programmation), law, accounting and various categories of economy-related subjects.
    I agree that Computers is a very important subject, as you can't do much these days without it. But I fail to see the point in teaching children law and accounting. I've needed very little of either up to now. I do think kids should be taught everyday practical things though, like how to open a bank account, pay bills or catch a train.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would reduce the number of hours in maths and sciences in exchange for computering and accounting, which are in fact practical applications of these (especially maths).
    Sacrilege! In the UK a quarter of adults don't have enough maths for everyday life, so I don't see how teaching them less would help! I would probably agree with reducing science a bit though - in the UK everyone takes general science equivalent to two subjects - one would probably be enough.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would replace literature and a good chunk of one's mother-tongue by law. Legal vocabulary is also part of one's mother's tongue, and is more useful in daily life for everyone than poetry or 17th-century plays.
    I can't see that you understand the same thing as I do by 'law'. Why do I need law? But we certainly need our native language. In the UK the standard of English is terrible - no-one knows how to use an apostrophe! - so I think at least in the UK we need more. And I completely agree with Void about literature. Reading is absolutely crucial to fostering a love of learning, so people need to learn to love books.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would keep history and geography compulsory, but replace geography by geopolitics and economics (if fact, it is already how it was in my highschool).
    I would lump physical Geography in with Science and create a new subject called Social Studies which would include history, social geography, religion, and anything else concerned with society
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would add compulsory philosophy courses
    I agree with you here, but wouldn't necessarily create a new subject. It could probably be covered by topics in the other subjects.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    have 2 or 3 compulsory modern languages.
    The most useless subject I ever took at school was French. I studied it for five years, learnt virtually nothing, which I have never used. Languages are probably not so important for English-speakers as everyone else tends to learn English (not saying I agree with it, but it's a fact)
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Another important change would be for all schools to offer as many optional subjects as possible
    I agree with this too. Everyone has to do a bit of something they enjoy. I would include Art, Music, several languages, practical subjects such as gardening or woodwork and higher levels of core subjects for gifted students.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It means that a child born in June and another one in September of the same year will be in different school years in Germany.
    This happens in the UK too. I don't think it matters really. Everyone is used to that system.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Likewise, those who skip a year or progress more quickly in the class-by-ability system would be able to complete compulsory education earlier than others.
    This happens in the UK in a very limited way. Very gifted kids can take a couple of subjects a year early and start their A Levels early too. I wish I'd had that chance, instead of spending a year twiddling my thumbs in Maths and English.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Those who fail more than 3 or 4 years could try to pass an easier version of the final test or drop some subjects, but would not be allowed in tertiary education.
    I totally agree with this. We have the ridiculous situation here that people can take the same exam as many times as they want until they pass. I would say after 4 times - tough!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    University should probably be 3 years (like in English-speaking countries) instead of 4, and be more specialised (i.e. drop optional subjects of general knowledge, as people can learn them by themselves or would have learnt them at school)
    I liked the system at my university, but they don't do it anymore. Basically, you spent the first year attending lectures on every subject offered, so that everyone had learnt a bit of everything, before deciding on your two main subjects, which you then studied for three years, with a subsidiary in each year as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I am in favour of imposing a compulsory course in parenting, and anyone who wouldn't pass the test wouldn't be allowed to have children.
    I agree with the idea of a parenting course, but I don't think we should dictate who can have children - that's one step away from eugenics, IMHO. The problem I have is who sets the standards for what parents need to learn.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Maths is artifical, theoretical and mostly useless in real life
    You must have learnt different maths than me, 'cos most of what I learnt at school has been useful at some time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Learning law (and politics, as they are closely related) certainly increases vocabulary in a more useful way than old-fashioned idioms and poetic language.
    I think Literature is very important as it helps people understand each other. As A C Grayling has it:
    ...acquaintance with literature and the arts enlarges one's insight into the human condition, and thus serves as a powerful adjunct to promoting the sympathies which are part of the necessary basis for morality.
    Last edited by Tsuyoiko; 27-09-05 at 12:20.

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    heh, Maciamo, now i`ll need even more time to reply to your next message =)
    But about universities first .

    Our universities also state-funded. I am not sure whether they get paid per every registered head, because as i remember there always existed limited number of places.
    We had and still have entrance exams. Their purpose was to keep number of
    students according to available vacancies (which as i said limited), and let to enter only really smart students. Every uni depending on its status settled the desired level of exam`s grades (highest is 5, lowes acceptable is 3). Exams usually included mother-tongue, and some of future majoring subjects (science, foreign language, history and so on). It was while education was free. Nowdays situation a bit different. Today only limited number of those who will match hight marks with their entrance exams can get free education. The rest are supposed to pay (and the sum increases every year), but they also have their exams. For about last 5 years another system started to work, similar to US. Our finals at schools are substituted with system of tests and result of these tests can be accepted as entrance exams at the university. It was done to allow kids from province to apply to different universities. But, frankly speaking, many teachers say that these tests can`t show real knowledge, `cause very often questions are just dumb or unrelated to the subject (especially in nonscience), and even professors fail to pass.

    Still there is the same problem as in Belgium: number of graduates usually about 50% (or less) of freshmen`s number, they don`t pass exams (twice a year) or can`t even manage the curriculum.

    My idea would be to have entrance exams supervised directly by the state (who granst the money), so that they are difficut enough, and that after that most of the students manage to graduate.
    absolutely agree

    I also support the idea that education must stay free and funds have to come from different sources:
    - state (absolutely!) because state makes its social ordering - citizens with certain skills to work at varuois servises
    - companies which are also interested in qualified employees, they have to pay cost of education, other expences and provide certain technical base
    - ex-students and other charitable organizations
    - ...

    What else i think should be changed. First of all education in universities should be more connected to the world outside of its walls. How it can be done? Universities should participate in life of the city where they are situated. Conduct different social researches for the municipality, to help them develop various programs intented to improve the society. Make scientific researches for the state and corporations. In their turn municipality and coprorations have to provide practical training for students (or even employ them temporarily, especially in summer time when a lot of workers are out on vacation). We already have this, but obviously, it is not enough for students to learn how to apply their knowledge in real world and to attain practical experience.
    And universities should encourage studens (starting from sophomores) participate in researches. This is more useful than writing term papers no one really needs, just for the sake of theoretical exploration.

    I think, if it will be well organized, university will "kill two hares with one shot":
    1) practical education
    2) more funds attracted

    subjects
    i think students have dedicate most of their efforts to the courses of their major speciality. But yet there must be optional classes, so called " for general development of individual" But there shouldn`t be exams on them. I know few people which got expelled just because they didn`t pass such subjects (but they were good in math and computering - their major)

    ===============================
    I would lump physical Geography in with Science and create a new subject called Social Studies which would include history, social geography, religion, and anything else concerned with society
    Agreed. Age of humanity, social studies, whatever. As long as the subject will help to draw solid, consistent and realistic picture of the world (modern and through ages). I always felt that modern education doesn`t give whole picture. Times and places apart. What was at the eastern countries during Medieval ages of Europe, how WW affected the globe, not just direct participants and such. How did great teachings and science travelled... and many other points.

    The most useless subject I ever took at school was French. I studied it for five years, learnt virtually nothing, which I have never used. Languages are probably not so important for English-speakers as everyone else tends to learn English (not saying I agree with it, but it's a fact)
    Wrong answer! Why do you think many well known actors are able to keep quite clear mind and speech even at very old age? Their mind always working - they memorize a lot of text, "try on" different personalities and environments.
    1) Language is no less effective exercise for a brain than math. It increases capacity of one`s memory, makes it to adjust to different grammar
    2) Foreign language is a first step on a bridge uniting different cultures. I think it is merely impolite not to study language just because every one studies English
    3) studing a language sooner or later requires studing the culture. Understanding another culture might make people more tolerant (it is better when started at school age)
    4) world (at least Europe) becomes more united. One can live in Germany and work in France, only one native language is not enough, the earlier we`ll get the idea - the better for us
    5) besides, studing of foreign language improves profficiency in mother-tongue
    6) well, i`ll stop preaching here

    ============================================
    I am in favour of imposing a compulsory course in parenting, and anyone who
    wouldn't pass the test wouldn't be allowed to have children.
    disagree, this is discrimination. Pedagogics is science and people devote it 4-5 years of their lives(at least in RF) altogether with the subject(s) they are going to teach. You can`t expect people to learn during 1/2 or 1 year all the innovative methodics and apply them efficiently. Parenting has to do with the responsibility toward one`s child and treating kid not just as adjunct to his (hers) parent but as individual with own ideas and goals, whom parent have to show how to achieve the desired. Such courses can be run for free at evening time (for example, by city`s universities or colleges) for everyone who will get interested

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    But I fail to see the point in teaching children law and accounting. I've needed very little of either up to now. I do think kids should be taught everyday practical things though, like how to open a bank account, pay bills or catch a train.
    When I say law, it means starting with explaining how the legal system works. We had that at univertsity. We learned about the different levels of law (European, national, state, municipal...), how bills are passed, etc. We also had civil law, which is very useful for everyday life. It includes the rules of contracts (e.g. to rent a house or get a job), basic citizen rights, how to deal with damages or prejudices, etc.

    As for accounting, I would just have a minor one-year subject in highschool to explain how to manage one's assets or the basics or SME's accounting (balance sheets, credit/debit, etc.). It's very useful to manage one's bank account, get a loan, learn how to invest, buy bonds or shares, etc. Everybody needs that if we want to prevent people from falling into poverty from mismanagement of personal funds.

    Sacrilege! In the UK a quarter of adults don't have enough maths for everyday life, so I don't see how teaching them less would help!
    What do you need in everyday life except mental calculation and some geometry ? I don't know what you learnt but I was forced to memorize dozens of useless one-page long theorems when I was 13 and 14, then algorithms, vectorial analysis, derivations, integrals, etc. What's the use in daily life ? Even someone very analytical, who loves statistics and probabilities like me doesn't care about those.

    But we certainly need our native language. In the UK the standard of English is terrible - no-one knows how to use an apostrophe!
    Well, you won't enter secondary school in Belgium if you can't use apostrophes correctly. Usually, the bunk of the grammar (and French has plenty of irregular conjugations) is learned before 12 years old. After that it's mostly idioms (e.g. "to float on air", "to bite the dust") useless if you don't care about them, then poetry (very useless), and litearure (mostly useless because people who like reading do it by themselves, and others don't even read the books but read a summary or ask classmates to quickly explain the story for the test). The only interesting part I had in "mother-tongue" was philosophy - but it could have been a subject on its own.

    And I completely agree with Void about literature. Reading is absolutely crucial to fostering a love of learning, so people need to learn to love books.
    I can't agree. I love reading and have always been a more avid learner than almost anybody I know, but I just hated most the books we were made to read at school. Mostly fiction, and for me it's a waste of time as there is nothing to learn. What about having student read the "For Dummies" series or history, economics or psychology books ? That would be a useful way of improving their reading skills.

    I would lump physical Geography in with Science and create a new subject called Social Studies which would include history, social geography, religion, and anything else concerned with society
    Why mix everything together ? Some people like history and dislike geography or religion, or vice versa. I am in favour of giving more choices to the students about the number of hours of each subject they get in accordance to their interests. The 2 last years of secondary school, I was able to choose 4h/week or history instead of two (unfortunately there wasn't such an option for geography). I like that system.

    The most useless subject I ever took at school was French. I studied it for five years, learnt virtually nothing, which I have never used.
    Don't tell me about it ! I had 8 years of Dutch at school and can't speak it. I learned 2 months Italian and Italy and was taken for a native after that. The big problem of the current school system is that students study foreign languages just a few hours a week (4h was normal for each of the 2 or 3 languages we chose in my school) spread over several years. But as soon as the lesson is over, students forget about what they have learned because they have to concentrate on another subject. So their brain can never assimilate what they have learnt, and in addition they have no real opportunity to use the language. That is why I am certain (from my experience in learning 7 languages) that spending a few months abroad and be all day long in a foreign-language environment would be much more useful than the current system. But languages are necessary. More than any other subject they form the spirit and open one's mind to different ways of thinking. I was good at maths and sciences (that was my main orientation with languages), but frankly both are useless in forming one's spirit compared to living a few months in a foreign country and thinking in another language most of the day.

    Languages are probably not so important for English-speakers as everyone else tends to learn English (not saying I agree with it, but it's a fact)I agree with this too.
    Charles V of Habsburg said that a man is worth as many men as the number of languages he speaks. I agree. Every language in which we are fluent create a new dimension (new personality and world vision) in our spirit. I have to admit that the longer time I spend without speaking or thinking in French, and the least I can understand the way of thinking of French speakers. Once I speak with other natives again for a few weeks, it's much easier to understand how they think again. The same is true for any of the languages I speak. I feel more intolerant or suspicious toward speakers of one particular culture once I haven't spoken the language for several years. Once I speak it again, I feel like a native of that country ! It's amazing and uncomprehensible even for me, but it's like that !

    Everyone has to do a bit of something they enjoy. I would include Art, Music, several languages, practical subjects such as gardening or woodwork and higher levels of core subjects for gifted students.
    I would certainly NEVER put gardening, cooking, woodwork, etc. as school subjects. These can be learnt by oneself or by one's parents, friends or outside school. I would also suppress physical education from school, because it's very hard to find activities that please or are adapted to most people, and I know from experience that those who don't like a particular physical activity (gym, swimming, running, football...) always find an excuse to avoid it. I was a pro at that and even got notes from my parents to skip those I didn't like or just told the teacher that I didn't feel good, or hurt myself the day before or whatever excuse was good. It's not that I didn't like sport. I didn't like sport at school. I have played tennis during all my secondary school years, also did judo, karate and some body building; but none of these were available at school, and I can't stand football or gymnastics (the 2 that represented 80% of the lessons).

    Basically, you spent the first year attending lectures on every subject offered, so that everyone had learnt a bit of everything, before deciding on your two main subjects, which you then studied for three years, with a subsidiary in each year as well.
    That's a good systen, but how do you pass all those subjects if you aren't good at at least one or two of them ? Literary people are not always good at maths or sciences and vice versa. Or was it just for one faculty ?

    I agree with the idea of a parenting course, but I don't think we should dictate who can have children - that's one step away from eugenics, IMHO.
    Eugenics is only a step away of what we call civilised society. It's just a matter of how strict are the standards. China has a one-child policy; why not saying that if one really wants children they should be able to care for them ? Is that too much asking ? Should parent's selfishness go before children's happiness ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    When I say law, it means starting with explaining how the legal system works. We had that at univertsity. We learned about the different levels of law
    I think they have something similar now in Citizenship classes, but I had nothing like it and don't feel I missed out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    As for accounting, I would just have a minor one-year subject in highschool to explain how to manage one's assets or the basics or SME's accounting (balance sheets, credit/debit, etc.). It's very useful to manage one's bank account, get a loan, learn how to invest, buy bonds or shares, etc. Everybody needs that if we want to prevent people from falling into poverty from mismanagement of personal funds.
    I think they could teach enough in a very short course, just a few weeks in IT or citizenship.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    What do you need in everyday life except mental calculation and some geometry ? I don't know what you learnt but I was forced to memorize dozens of useless one-page long theorems when I was 13 and 14,
    Looks like you got a much better mathematical education than we get here. High school maths here is just arithmetic, algebra, data handling and common measures - all of which are useful to some extent.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Well, you won't enter secondary school in Belgium if you can't use apostrophes correctly.
    Wow, standards are a lot higher in Belgium than here!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I can't agree. I love reading and have always been a more avid learner than almost anybody I know, but I just hated most the books we were made to read at school. Mostly fiction, and for me it's a waste of time as there is nothing to learn.
    I read mostly non-fiction too, but you are really missing out if you think there's nothing to learn from fiction. It teaches us about life experience that we can never have for ourselves. Every quality fiction book I have read has changed my life. Crime and Punishment did more for me than two years of anti-depressants, to pick just one example.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Why mix everything together ?
    'Cos in real life it is mixed together. It's artificial to separate History and Geography, as Void said, and I'm sure something would be gained from the synthesis.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would certainly NEVER put gardening, cooking, woodwork, etc. as school subjects. These can be learnt by oneself or by one's parents, friends or outside school.
    Why? Why are they any less valuable than any of the other subjects? Out of everything I learnt at school, cooking is one of the few things I have to do every day. You could just as well argue that your parents can teach you reading or maths!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I would also suppress physical education from school
    I agree here. It's very humiliating for sensitive teenagers to have to participate in things they are no good at, and it is very obvious to everyone when you're no good at PE. Plus the last thing you want when your body is changing is to have to get undressed in front of everyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    That's a good systen, but how do you pass all those subjects if you aren't good at at least one or two of them ? Literary people are not always good at maths or sciences and vice versa. Or was it just for one faculty ?
    Well it was just an overview of the subjects, and was very well-organised so that you could still pass if you weren't good at everything.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Eugenics is only a step away of what we call civilised society.
    I don't understand what you mean
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    why not saying that if one really wants children they should be able to care for them ? Is that too much asking ? Should parent's selfishness go before children's happiness ?
    Because who has the right to judge? Who would you have make the decision?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I think they have something similar now in Citizenship classes, but I had nothing like it and don't feel I missed out.
    I have never had such thing as Citizenship class. Does that have anything to do with patriotism. It's not a strong point of Belgium... At best patriotism means be willing to accept that Belgium is still one country and the king should not be crucified in punishment for Leopold II's genocide in Congo.

    Looks like you got a much better mathematical education than we get here. High school maths here is just arithmetic, algebra, data handling and common measures - all of which are useful to some extent.
    Well, Belgian students who go on exchange programmes to the US all say that a 12th grade there is like a 9th grade in Belgium for maths or sciences, but I thought that the UK had a similar level due to the EU harmonization of standards. I know that France and Germany have similar levels.

    I read mostly non-fiction too, but you are really missing out if you think there's nothing to learn from fiction. It teaches us about life experience that we can never have for ourselves.
    The only fiction books I like are historical fiction or semi-fiction, like Shakespeare's plays or books like Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. In the latter, I didn't even notice it was a fiction book until I reached the third of the book. I liked it because it gives a good insight in the way of life of a Gion geisha in an near-biographical manner. For vocabulary or relaxation I read travel stories like Alan Booth or Bill Bryson. If I want some fiction, then I just watch the movies, as it's not worth spending more time reflecting about them when I could be doing something more instructive.

    It's artificial to separate History and Geography, as Void said, and I'm sure something would be gained from the synthesis.
    Not quite sure about that - and these are my fields of predilection. The point is that geography teaches about today's world, so current countries, boundaries, capitals, government types, economies, populations, etc. Geography at school is mostly a statistical and observational subject. Mostly memory and analysis.

    History is nothing like that. History is more comprehension (also memory and analysis, but less predominantly) of the evolution of societies, evolution of boundaries, governments, people's mindset, ideologies, beliefs, etc. I know that in some countries (like Japan), history classes concentrate on memorizing dates and people's names, but that is not at all how I see learning history.

    Ever since my first history lesson, all my teachers have always repeated that dates are not very important to remember because we can always double-check them in books, there are too many to remember, and a date in itself doesn't mean anything. The important is to understand how people lived, why they acted the way they did (e.g. wars, revolutions...), how and why societies evolved, and why the world is the way it is now. It's also important to compare the evolution of societies around the world, and see how and why some societies managed to surpass others technoligically, or put events in relations to their historical context.

    From this perspective I was particularly surprised that almost all the Japanese with whom I have discussed could not make a link between what happened in Japan and other parts of the world at one given time. For the Japanese, medieval Europe (the age of knights in armour) stopped at about the same time as the age of the samurai. In fact there is about 500 years of difference between the two. They also usually associate their ancient history (Nara and Heian, i.e. 8th to 12th c.) to Roman times 1000 years earlier. It's very strange that they seem so confused about the timelines of different world regions, when I was taught that it was more important to relate events across the world that merely remember dates or events.


    Why are they any less valuable than any of the other subjects? Out of everything I learnt at school, cooking is one of the few things I have to do every day. You could just as well argue that your parents can teach you reading or maths!
    I never said that parents couldn't teach their children to count or read (and many other things I hope). It's just that cooking would be a waste of time. Just open a cookbook and try yourself. Children are not very interested in cooking, except maybe desserts. Boys usually dislike it more than girls too. Then you have the cultural aspect. What should people learn to cook in multicultural country like Britain ? British food, Indian food, Italian food, French food, Chinese food ? Should that depend on the ethnic background of the students ? What if some students are vegetarian ? I feel that cooking is something too personal to be taught at school. What's more, most children will have seen a parent or grandparent cook and could learn from observing them.

    Because who has the right to judge? Who would you have make the decision?
    Well, those schools/universities that teach parents to educate their children should judge who is sufficiently capable of raising a child to have one. Those who fail the evaluation would just have to persevere and learn more about education. Those who don't care enough to learn would not be allowed to have children, or would be forced to take the course if they do have a child, or pay some heavy fines. I think that could also take some of the burden off the shoulder of school teachers, and create a better society, with less delinquency and ignorance.

    It is sometimes believed in Western countries (esp. English-speaking ones) that people are free to live the way they want without having to care about the government. But that is a myth. In every developed country, people have to respect the law, pay taxes or go to school until the compulsory age. In a civilised society, people cannot just decide to ignore these things, except if they live like hermits in domr remote areas. There are laws that decide whether a child's father is automatically recognised according to his marital status or not. There are laws that oblige people to register a child within a fixed period after its birth. There are laws that oblige people to choose one or several given names (in Japan only one, for instance) and whose family name the child inherits (in Japan it can be either the father o mother's, but never both; in Spain both is common).

    I don't think that introducing compulsory parental education is very different from what already exists. It could be seen as an extension of the regular education system. I doubt that many teenagers are mature enough to learn these things when they are 16 or 17, so people could decide by themselves when they want to take the course, and whether it is the short intensive type, or longer evening classes one. It would be free (state-financed) of course. If they feel ready when they are 18, then they could take it then. If it's when they are 30, then let is be so. People who don't want children wouldn't need to take the course.

    The course would teach the basics of what to do and not do during pregnancy, how to take care of a baby, what food to give or not to give and why, the influence of education of the child's personality and intelligence, what games are recommended (e.g. lego blocks to develop 3D skills), how to teach a child to obey and not become selfish or antisocial, children psychology, system of reward, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I have never had such thing as Citizenship class. Does that have anything to do with patriotism.
    No, it's nothing like patriotism. It's meant to teach kids how to be a good member of society.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    It's just that cooking would be a waste of time. Just open a cookbook and try yourself. Children are not very interested in cooking, except maybe desserts. Boys usually dislike it more than girls too.
    I saw the opposite when I worked in a school. The younger kids especially (11-14), boys and girls, got such a sense of achievement from creating a meal to take home to their families. I always looked forward to the daily parade of children coming by to proudly show me what they had cooked.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Well, those schools/universities that teach parents to educate their children should judge who is sufficiently capable of raising a child to have one. Those who fail the evaluation would just have to persevere and learn more about education. Those who don't care enough to learn would not be allowed to have children, or would be forced to take the course if they do have a child, or pay some heavy fines. I think that could also take some of the burden off the shoulder of school teachers, and create a better society, with less delinquency and ignorance.
    How would you stop people from having children? What exactly would people have to learn before they are allowed to have them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    How would you stop people from having children? What exactly would people have to learn before they are allowed to have them?
    I have updated the post above. I would stop them the same way as they do in China. By punishing them if they break the law (heavy fines, etc.), and also by forcing them to take the course. Usually, it is the more benighted people's children who tend to cause problems in society (delinquency, vandalism, violence...), justly because of the bad education they received from their parents. As these often coincide with poorer families (although the reverse is not necessarily true), they would be more likely to try to avoid paying heavy fines (while richer people may not care so much). So this system will work all the better this way.

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    Thanks for the explanation Mac. I've thought about this myself. Over here there is an optional GCSE subject called Child Development that covers all the things you mentioned. In my experience, it is usually chosen by girls in the lower ability classes who either want to be homemakers or to work with children. I have never known a boy to choose it, and girls of higher ability are discouraged. I have always said that the subject should be compulsory for all students. We can't predict very accurately what career someone will end up in when they are 14 or 15, but it is very likely that the vast majority of those students will become parents within the next 20 years, so it is bound to be useful for probably 90% of kids.

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    number one. and more to catch up with all the "updates". Don`t you guys work at daily hours?

    When I say law, it means starting with explaining how the legal system works. (...) how bills are passed, etc. We also had civil law, which is very useful for everyday life. It includes the rules of contracts (e.g. to rent a house or get a job), basic citizen rights, how to deal with damages or prejudices, etc.
    As for accounting, I would just have a minor one-year subject in highschool to explain how to manage one's assets or the basics or SME's accounting (balance sheets, credit/debit, etc.). It's very useful to manage one's bank account, get a loan, learn how to invest, buy bonds or shares, etc.
    i agree with Tsuyoiko that most of it (practical part) can be taught in short course, about half a year. You can add to "law" basic human rights and kids` rights.

    Mostly fiction, and for me it's a waste of time as there is nothing to learn. What about having student read the "For Dummies" series or history, economics or psychology books ? That would be a useful way of improving their reading skills.
    most of the literature if it is not a textbook is fiction (even if it`s based on historical events). What do you expect to learn from them? If you ask me, that they are at least the examples for psychology and ethics classes (much better than those which come in modern textbooks on these science). Literature is supposed not only entertain us, but also to teach... at least empathy, compassion and understanding. If you cut it off, isn`t there a danger of raising logical, efficient, very practical human machines with cold heart?

    Why mix everything together ? Some people like history and dislike geography or religion, or vice versa. I am in favour of giving more choices to the students about the number of hours of each subject they get in accordance to their interests.
    Because, as Tsuyoiko said they are integrated in real life. You can offer different courses at high school, for those who will decide to deepen their knowledge in some of them

    [ about foreign languages ]
    Yes, current teaching system is unefficient. During month i`ve learned on my own more Spanish than during a year in US school (so, just put checkmarks in my tests and loafed =)) ). As for our schools: we have no less than 2 lessons per week. Not much, but not too little. We learn a lot of grammar,
    read and retell texts, but not encouraged to talk. Maybe, methodics should be changed, and have more emphasis on spoken language and basic grammar. Its more difficult in Russia to organise the exhange year than in EU. Perhaps, there can be another solution (like in Asian countries) to invite native speakers to teach the language

    I would certainly NEVER put gardening, cooking, woodwork, etc. as school subjects. These can be learnt by oneself or by one's parents, friends or outside school. I would also suppress physical education from school
    In RF we have (had, not sure about today course (2 years i think) where boys
    learnt to do basic woodwork, mechanic`s work and girls learnt basics of
    cooking, sewing and such. I wasn`t extremely happy about these subjects,
    but if they won`t be compulsory, it`s OK to have them.
    And i don`t think it`s a good idea to suppress PE. Just leave the gym open,
    get table tennis equipment, soccer fields, workout rooms and etc., and let kids to visit them at any convenient time and participate in any sports they would get interested.

    ------------------------------------------
    Looks like you got a much better mathematical education than we get here.
    High school maths here is just arithmetic, algebra, data handling and common
    measures - all of which are useful to some extent.
    just like that? We also study logarithms, trigonometry, integrals, simple
    derivations and such at school. Lot`s of it is of no use. Maybe, arithmetics,
    simple geometry, basic equasions, data handling and statistics would be enough, but maybe not. I found a book about IELTS. There is a chapter devoted description and analisys of tables, charts and diagrams. Author says that before teaching students it is better to explain the procedure in russian, since many of them lack this knowledge. But after reading your posts, Tsuyoiko, i start to doubt that native english speakers are capable of doing it as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    I would lump physical Geography in with Science and create a new subject called Social Studies which would include history, social geography, religion, and anything else concerned with society
    Just adding this. I think it doesn't make more sense to have a single "humantities" (or "social studies") subject than have all sciences and maths combined together. Personally, I had clearly different classes (and teachers) for physics, chemistry, biology, and of course maths. Why should geography, history, morals/religion, philosophy or psychology (a branch of philosophy) be more similar so as to be gathered as one subject, when it would be more effective to have clear-cut curriculums and different, specialised teachers for each ?

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    Not quite sure about that - and these are my fields of predilection.
    The point is that geography teaches about today's world, so current
    countries, boundaries, capitals, government types, economies, populations,
    etc. Geography at school is mostly a statistical and observational subject.
    Mostly memory and analysis.

    History is nothing like that.
    history is not. But all the historical events are bound to geographical places,
    and sometimes "caused" by geography (such as conflicts, birth of civilizations,
    great discoveries). People`s idea about world also changes with time - isn`t it a part of subject of the history.
    How and why societies evolved is much dependant on their geography

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    Quote Originally Posted by Void
    history is not. But all the historical events are bound to geographical places,
    and sometimes "caused" by geography (such as conflicts, birth of civilizations,
    great discoveries). People`s idea about world also changes with time - isn`t it a part of subject of the history.
    How and why societies evolved is much dependant on their geography
    It's obvious that geography is needed to learn history, but not modern geography. I am not sure what you learned in geography classes, but my understanding is that geography(or geopolitics if you prefer) is learning about today's world - not just boundaries and country names, but also government and economic types, relations between countries, migrations, world-wide issues such as AIDS, poverty or terrorism, etc. Geology (types or rocks, seismic platques, etc.) and physical geography (main rivers, mountains, deserts around the world) is just a one-year (out of 6) part of geography.

    History is basically the same subject, but about the past. In my understanding, recent events (e.g. 20 years old) are not yet considered history, as most of the people who lived at that time are still alive now. History is obviously a vaster subject as more happened in the past than in contemporary times. It's also more difficut because we have to imagine life styles that do not exist anymore. But geography is not that easy either, because it requires to understand the various cultures of the world, and the fast changing and increasingly complex societies of the present.

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    we had both: physical and economic geography.
    and if you ask me, i think understanding of different cultures was more connected to history subjject rather than for geographical classes.
    Geopolitics was split between history and geography. And very often these two studied at differen rates and there is no "time-line" correspondence between then, and, thus, there is no whole picture (like you`ve discribed misconceptions many japanese have)

    Modern geography of Middle East is the result of historical events of early XX centuy, but the culture of Middle East rooted deeper than XX centure. How do you devide it between subjects?

    I, thought Tsuoyiko (correct me, Tsuoyiko, please, if i am wrong) didn`t mean small course with single textbook. Lump means more, for me - simultaneous studing of these closely relating subjects but under name (or eve aegis) of one course

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    Quote Originally Posted by Void
    I, thought Tsuoyiko (correct me, Tsuoyiko, please, if i am wrong) didn`t mean small course with single textbook. Lump means more, for me - simultaneous studing of these closely relating subjects but under name (or eve aegis) of one course
    Yep Void, that's what I meant!
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Just adding this. I think it doesn't make more sense to have a single "humantities" (or "social studies") subject than have all sciences and maths combined together. Personally, I had clearly different classes (and teachers) for physics, chemistry, biology, and of course maths.
    Actually, at GCSE we studied all the sciences as one subject, just called Science. It was modular, and apart from a handful of core modules in basics like atomic structure and ecosystems, we had a free choice of which modules to study - so I could choose all the Physics and Chemistry modules, but would still learn the basics of Biology and Geology. We then chose specific subjects for A Level. I would support something similar with Social Studies - one subject, taught in modules, some of which will be almost purely History or Geography, others a mix, and students can specialise if they want to, or take a broad range of modules if that suits them better. Then at A Level (or equivalent) students can choose specific subjects - more specific than History or Geography, like Ancient History, European History, Politics or whatever. That way offers far more choice than just History and Geography by allowing students to either more or less specialise in one subject or to get an overview of both subjects - plus it makes explicit the undeniable connections between the two. Example - how can you learn about Napolean's campaigns or the Crusades in History, without a very sound knowledge of Geography?
    As for lumping Mathematics in with Science - I didn't suggest lumping mother tongue in with Social Studies, and IMO Maths is to Science as mother tongue is to Social Studies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    Yep Void, that's what I meant!
    Actually, at GCSE we studied all the sciences as one subject, just called Science. It was modular, and apart from a handful of core modules in basics like atomic structure and ecosystems, we had a free choice of which modules to study - so I could choose all the Physics and Chemistry modules, but would still learn the basics of Biology and Geology.
    In my case, we had science as one subject in the 3 first years of secondary school, then separated physics, chemistry and biology classes for the 3 remaining years. But everybody had to take at least 1h/week of each, and could choose up to 3h/week for each if they wanted (or choose more hours in languages, history, etc.). Geology was part of Geography, although it took a whole year.

    I would support something similar with Social Studies - one subject, taught in modules, some of which will be almost purely History or Geography, others a mix, and students can specialise if they want to, or take a broad range of modules if that suits them better. Then at A Level (or equivalent) students can choose specific subjects - more specific than History or Geography, like Ancient History, European History, Politics or whatever.
    That's a good system. We couldn't choose which part of history we wanted. Out of 6 years of secondary school, everybody had compulsory history classes in this order : local history, ancient history, middle ages, renaissance and colonisation, 18th century (Enlightenment, French revolution, etc.) to mid-19th century (industrial revolution...), and finally late 19th to mid-20th (rise of socialism, communism and nazism, 2 world wars, etc.) + always the art history that went with each period since the middle ages. We were able to choose 4h instead of the 2 compulsory one in the last 3 years, but the curriculum was the same anyway (just more details, more TV documentaries, presentations and compositions on selected subjects, etc.).

    Example - how can you learn about Napolean's campaigns or the Crusades in History, without a very sound knowledge of Geography?
    That is why we had to study geography (country names, borders, main mountains, rivers, etc.) from the 1st year, and were told not to forget as it would be necessary for the next years both in geopoltics and history classes*. Anyway, we had a nice historical atlas with maps of the changing borders for each period of history by region.

    * this is why I can't understand how many people (mostly in Japan, Australia or the US) have such a poor knowledge of geography and managed to complete secondary school. If they could remember their geography for 6 years, they cannot forget it that easily after that. But maybe they just didn't have geography classes like we did (or not the same exigency level for exams).

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