Ronny Ager-Wick

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Ronny Ager-Wick
Posted 11 months ago
For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?
Yes, but you do not need to call me Sir. In fact I prefer you not to, as I am not your boss or ruler, but rather your peer. It's not your fault though. I get called Sir all the time even though I'm just a simple person with no royal blood, knighthood or anything like that. I know, it's the country's past being a Spanish colony and later an American puppet nation that is hard to get rid of, even though the Philippines is now supposedly a democracy (as in everyone can vote, but hardly any of the people available for election is worth voting for). Plus, of course it's ingrained in the culture to be polite to anybody who can potentially be older than you or in a higher position. I think this is part of the problem actually, but not the main problem. Respect should be earned, not inherited. I have not yet earned your respect, so I'm at best a peer, at worst a stranger. Anyway, I do agree. I get the feeling that the mode of teaching for the most part is "do not question me, just memorise what I say so you will do well on the exam!", which roughly translates to "I don't have the time nor the patience for questions - see the size of this book - I have to read all of this to you before the end of the school year! You actually learning something is not really a concern." The way I see it, the exact opposite would be ideal - always question authority, particularly when they offer no proof, always ask why and don't care about how others "score" - in fact there should be no score at all. Working independently or in small groups on something that interests the children at the time it interests them beats any other mode of instruction. Before the unscrupulous system of public schooling there was no unemployment. It wouldn't surprise me if even the word itself didn't exist back then. Parents and other adults in their vicinity taught the children. Very good video on the topic: https://plus.google.com/117596660984490280980/posts/5WKushx8ssR
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Ronny Ager-Wick
Posted 11 months ago
For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?
Post 3/3: My experience from the Philippines is the complete opposite of that of AMI Montessori in London. The education system here is antiquated and should not be reformed in any way, it should be thrown out and a new one should be built form scratch. Public schools are a disgrace, where one teacher is supposed to teach up to 50 children by writing things on the blackboard and, if they have enough money, through textbooks. Occasionally you have teachers that really care and want to make a difference with their students, but that is not supported by the system of hundreds of useless standardised tests, and an ill-contrived curriculum based on the already poor American system. The children, from age 5, are though to be competitive, being aware of their class ranking already from that age - as if that mattered at all! On top of this, despite the fact that the Philippines, at least on paper, is a secular country, every school is drenched in catholic dogma, with praying multiple times a day and little snippets of how they should pray to god sneaked into the text books, which are already over filled with useless information. Why do second graders need so many books that they can's even carry their backback? Private or public - students are taught to sit still and listen and copy what the teacher writes, and made to believe that there would be no morality if it wasn't for religion. Religious dogma is taught alongside science, while the inconvenient parts of science that contradict dogma, like evolution, is gracefully ignored, as not to upset the priests. Even their report cards, which by themselves I find distasteful for so young children, contain an entry for how god-fearing the children are! All in all, I think the Philippines would do a lot better if they shut down the public school system completely and made a law that prevented religious organisations from starting schools. Religion and school simply do not mix, they're polar opposites.
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Ronny Ager-Wick
Posted 11 months ago
For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?
Post 2/3: My experience with Montessori was only positive. Note that this is the *real* Montessori, the AMI - the organisation that Maria Montessori herself set up - not one of the thousands of schools that pick and choose a few materials from Montessori's collection and slap on the Montessori name for good measure. The teachers were inspired and motivated - without doubt the best teachers I've met. The attention given to each student is amazing, and the children learn both individually and from each other. The children learned lots of important and challenging concepts, but without really realising that they were there to learn - they thought they were playing and having fun. They loved going to school every morning, and when my oldest was asked by an adult during a vacation if she was enjoying the time off from school (as if school is supposed to be boring) she replied, no, I want to go back to school. That said, this is not the case for ordinary public education in the UK, nor private, regardless of how expensive. The reason AMI Montessori is so exceptional is that they do not teach on blackboards and text books, but by experience. They learn by doing, not parroting. (I'll continue with the Philippines in the next post)
Noface
Ronny Ager-Wick
Posted 11 months ago
For non-US TEDizens: Can you tell us about your country's education system?
Post 1/3: I have experience from three different countries. I grew up and went to school in Norway, my 2 kids attended AMI Montessori Children's House (Casa) (3-6 years) in London, UK as well as Kinder and grade 2 at a private school in the Philippines. What I like with the Norwegian system is that it's not so competitive. Children can grow and learn without worrying about their score on lots of standardized tests. How your child does compared to other children is not really a subject of conversation. Religion is taught as a subject - but it's covering all major religions so children can get an understanding of the differences and similarities. Science is taught as it is, without interference from religion. However after my time they extended from 9 to 10 years of primary school without really adding anything to the curriculum. And then that's the main problem - they still have a fixed curriculum. Just like a hundred years ago, children are still fed through the same system and are supposed to learn the same things, with a few rather insignificant exceptions in the later years, where they have "valgfag" (choice of subject), where students can select between a (very) limited amount of subjects. But that's only a few hours a week. They still have to endure all the uninteresting and mostly useless standard subjects. Students that do well are held back so they won't be too far ahead of the rest - sticking your neck out is looked down upon. You should be like everyone else! University is free, but I did not attend it. I got put off in college (year 13/14), which of course also is free. I found that students there didn't really make an effort and were generally uninterested. Maybe because it's free, they don't value the opportunity, and instead use their student loans for partying. I hated the experience, but I already started my first company by then and none of my clients ever asked me about my education so I dropped out and never regretted it. (more in next post)