What’s happened to our schools? A sociological approach to education. Tjipcast 090 with Frank Furedi

Frank Furedi is een wetenschapper, schrijver en publicist die ik al geruime tijd volg. Met name zijn reflecties op het huidige onderwijssysteem, de kwaliteit van universiteiten en hoe ouders hun eigen kinderen (steeds vaker niet meer) opvoeden vind ik zeer prikkelend. Enkele weken geleden ging ik uitgebreid met Frank Furedi in gesprek om over zijn opvattingen en analyses rondom het huidige schoolsysteem in Nederland te praten. Dit is de eerste podcast die ik in het Engels opneem (excuseer mijn nogal Hollands РEngels). Vandaar dat de tekst hieronder in het Engels verder gaat. Ondanks de mogelijke taalbarri̬re kan ik je van harte aanraden dit gesprek te beluisteren.

Frank Furedi is a emeritus professor in sociology, commentator and writer. His books are widely considered as influential and thought provoking in regards to education, learning and democracy. Topics that Frank is interested in are: education, cultural life, parenting children and the impact of new technology on young adults. In this conversation we focus on the educational system in The Netherlands. Some questions that are discussed in this podcast are:

  • How doe you see the role of learning in a society and what function does it have?
  • What kind of consequences does the focus on values such as inclusion, sustainability and for instance in the school system have on children, parents and society?
  • In The Netherlands the government wants to focus more on ‘civic society competences for children’. Revolving around the question: How to be a good citizen. Values that are emphasised are: inclusion, sustainability, being friendly to each other (extravert versus introvert). What kind of consequences does professor Furedi see when countries adopt these kind of values and impose them to our curriculum?
  • In The Netherlands there is a lot of emphasis on innovating the school system. Such as attention to reflection, 21st century skills, brain based learning, digital transformation of books and text (learning via the tablet). At the same time, there is little empirical evidence that this will work / has effect. Why are school system constantly busy with innovation?
  • In The Netherlands many teachers and schools experience problems with exercising authority to children. In the sense that structure, discipline and for instance listening for more than 3 minutes is difficult to accomplish. Dutch schools are – compared to other countries – very noisy. How does professor Furedi explain this from a sociologic perspective?
  • Are we too soft on children with regards to their learning potential? Schools nowadays are very positively focused. Learning from succes, learning from talents, etc.
  • What kind of risk do you see when adopting this philosophy to learning? I see a gradual decline in attention and focus on ’knowledge’ in schools. For instance knowledge about history, or important literature is sometimes seen as outdated. Why is this happening? What consequences does it have? And could it be that we are wrong?
  • Schools have a lot of tasks to complete. Some tasks you may argue should be regarded as ‘parent’ tasks and not school tasks. What is happening nowadays in families in regards to ‘learning etiquettes, being polite, etc.? And is it realistic to ask school to fulfil these parents tasks? What challenges do you see in regards to this?
  • What do you think schools should do to maximise the talent of each child in school? What kind of principles should we adopt and what kind of changes should schools be making?
  • We are asking children to be responsible / take responsibility for their own learning. Is this a good viewpoint? Can children do this? Shouldn’t we focus more on the responsibility of parents and teachers?

You can also check out the conversation with Frank Furedi on the YouTube platform:

Some links to books that I can recommend (some in English some in Dutch):