Thursday, 24 September

As the end of the school year is getting closer, at the same time, the thoughts about the next year come to mind, which for a large number of Ukrainian children will be the first on the way of getting education. Changes introduced by the people’s deputies about the system of school education suggest that from September 1, 2018, starting with future first-graders, pupils will have to spend 12 years at school desks. An increase in the length of school training is still a rather controversial topic. That is why Opinion found out what to expect from educational reforms, why have one year been added, how is it compensated for graduates, what are the comments of psychologists on such changes, why some speakers consider schools as a tool to preserve a consumer approach and delay the process of socialization and what was the reaction to current changes of people in Ukrainian cities and villages.

What to expect from changes in the school education system?

Mykola Skyba, an education expert and competence of the future analytical center “Ukrainian Institute of the Future”, explained Opinion, that reformed school education is intended to teach children not only to memorize numerous facts and rules, but to use them in real life. Moreover, some subjects can be combined with each other, and, consequently, classes will become more integrated.

“Changes are simultaneous. This is a change in the qualifications of teachers, since they are have intensive retraining. Now this is an elementary school, then it will be secondary. The content, that is, the content of training program, changes through the revision of the state standard and, accordingly, the training programs. The process of learning changes too: the interactivity, students’ involvement increases. Classes become more interesting. And the accent itself – it is important that students not just remember a certain number of facts, students must learn to operate this information and use it. It is if to explain the expression “competence of training” with simple words. This is in fact the key to a new Ukrainian school: it teaches not just facts but competencies. This is such a dynamic interaction of knowledge, skills and attitudes, for example, to language, mathematics, natural sciences, as well as the development of skills of the XXI century. It is communication, operational thinking, critical thinking, ability to cooperate. It does not just require some ” superficial ” training program viewing, like, let’s add physics, taking hours from drawing, no, its not like that. This means that multidisciplinary connections increase, classes become more integrated. Chemistry, physics and biology, or even history and mathematics, can be united in some kind of lessons.

Сolleagues  from Finland held a week of classes in one of the Ukrainian schools in the Trudolub village in Poltava. The theme was the food chain. And they conducted it through everything, in particular through the lessons of Home economics, Art, Biology, Basics of healthy lifestyle, etc. So children study the phenomenon of life, and not just the subject. They understand: what they eat in the kitchen, why they go to the store – this is also some kind of food chain. They see themselves as part of a particular system. Or, for example, security or similar issues. It is much more productive. The request is also important. The new training program says it’s very important to keep child’s curiosity and get a request from her. And this request should be based on the program. For this purpose, the Law “On Education” gives the teacher the right to develop original programs, if the typical one is not satisfying. That is, the Ministry now does not approve all training programs, it gives only a typical one. You can, of course, work on it, but you can build on your own. Children who are educated, have the right to an individual educational trajectory, that is, the pace of learning, the sequence, the ability to credit the knowledge gained in non-formal education, for example, in extracurricular format, in competitions, skills contest. A child can bring the results of participation in a competition of robotics or from environmental club, show them, and this can be counted as an appropriate course (for example, Biology). Indeed, the corresponding level of knowledge that a person has applied is evident”, – the specialist explains.

The expert also said that legislation at this stage needs some concretization, as there are persistent conflicts between reinventors and conservatives. Now, according to Mykola Skyba, all forces are concentrated on the first two classes, and because of the limited number of human resources, 5-9 classes actually “get behind”.

“The only problem – it is still necessary to add details to the Law” On secondary education “. As with every law, there is a discussion between more conservative views and advanced ones. In our country, there are up to 50% of motivationally challenged people , and about 10% are ready to be at the forefront of changes. And for this purpose such an inert script is being implemented. There is not enough human resource to work synchronously at all levels of education: now all the forces are concentrated in elementary school, more precisely, even in 1-2 grades. But 5-9 – really ” get behind “, that is, there is such a contrast between the new training program and standards in elementary school and the old in the secondary “, – assured Mykola Skyba.

Why the term of schooling should be increased?

The introduction of a 12-year school system at first glance may seem like a simple waste of time, since young people will lose their precious year, which can help them to change for life. However, Mykola Skyba explained that the age of entering the labor market remains unchanged. And the idea of an additional year can help graduates approach their future choices being well-trained, close to maturity.

“An additional year is required in order not to overload each year. As there is still a certain amount of knowledge that civilization demands. You need to look at this through the system. It takes one year from the bachelor’s degree, the baccalaureate program becomes 3 years long, that is, a person still gets to the labor market on time. And this is a European trend. Because practically in all European countries, the term of study in schools is at least 12 years. This practice is explained not only by the desire to make more shunts within the year, as there is still a different pace of learning. One can learn a topic over six months, and another needs two years to do this. In order to synchronize, you need this time.

The high school is also expected to be vocational-oriented. It’s about the fact, that the last 3 classes will be specialized. That is, a person will be able to deepen his knowledge in the chosen area, and the senior school, lyceums will be purely specialized. In addition, the brain of a young human is not formed yet, and it is difficult for a person to make a choice where to go to study. Therefore, it is much more betterl to spend a little more time at school, so that to become at least one step closer to this maturity, which usually occurs at the age of 22-23 years. It is better to give the opportunity to delay this moment of meeting with a secondary education. Because it may turn out, that someone does not need a university, someone can go straight to work, someone can continue college education, and someone needs to think about it. This is an attempt to help navigate, not to “inject” higher education into people who are simply disorientated there. If we have this specialized school, people will be more standardized and ready to make their choices. So, it will be better for employers, and for faculty at universities it will be easier to work with the group. A person will have at least a little more certainty after the profile school. After all, it is good for everyone “, – the expert is convinced.

An additional year at school is an attempt to ” prolong the childhood”?

Iryna Hrabska, a Ph.D. in Psychology, a senior lecturer, managing partner of LQ-Studio, a company that develops competencies for the future, told Opinion, that changes in school education should be estimated in terms of the relevance of the age-shift trend, namely, the training prolonging has a chance to address unemployment.

“On its own, the 12-year training corresponds to the general trend of shift of age boundaries. Young people around the world later take different decisions about self-determination in the job and in relation to the family. Under the new WHO classification, the youth begins at 18 and ends at 44. Training prolonging may partially solve the problem of mass unemployment in the times of rapid automation. The McKinsey Institute experts in their latest annual report said that with existing technologies the third-part of working hours could be carried out by robots. Therefore, a significant part of the youth will appear on the labor market later “, – the expert believes.

At the same time, Iryna Hrabska stresses that losses may still be more significant, as school graduates will lose another year when they could make important decisions and develop. Psychologist also assured that the idea of ” childhood prolonging ” comes from the myth that the main task of students is to get as much knowledge as possible. According to the expert, the study should not be long, but of the important things.

“But you can lose more – a breakthrough in the country, thanks to the creativity and courage of the young. Our school system preserves a young person in an infantile controlled position. Students risk losing a year when they could make decisions, test opportunities, and develop. It is unlikely that anyone believes that the school as an institution is quickly rebuilding for development purposes.

The idea of ​​”prolonging the childhood” comes from the myth, that the student’s task is to gain as much knowledge as possible. After all, the information grows exponentially. The fourth industrial revolution did not leave this myth a chance for life. In the modern VUCA-world, the heavy “knowledge background” only prevents progressing ahead. Now valued not knowledge, but competencies. Among the so-called competences of the future: the ability to generate meanings, solve complex problems, critical thinking, creativity, cognitive flexibility. Machine memory is many times ahead of human, machine thinking has long been enough to solve problems from the school training program. Machines did not reach the level of creative tasks and system thinking, but the school does not claim that level either. Studying must be not long, but of an important things», – Iryna Hrabska summed up.

Schools are conventionalists of the consumer approach?

Vitalii Holubev, a secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, lecturer at the National University of Ostroh Academy and editor-in-chief of the “OGO” Publishing House, is convinced that an increase of the term for school education is not a valid decision, because the school only preserves the consumer approach.

“I can not see any rational kernel in increasing the term of school education. First of all, I think that young people, on the contrary, need to be encouraged to start an independent life, at least to increase the number of its elements in everyday life. Studying at school does not exactly help, it only preserves the consumer’s approach. Let’s talk frankly: do you seriously think that 18-year-olds boys and girls will seriously think about pistils and stamens at school? But the study at a university in another city 100% contributes faster maturation, socialization. I would generally stimulate the legislature so that graduates of schools would be more profitable to obtain higher education not in the city where they left school, bt in any other. That is, the earlier a child “leaves parents nest” – the better.

If we talk about the school training program, they say, in a smaller number of years, the necessary material can  not be “compressed”, then why should we go the extensive way, rather than intensive? This is another question, whether all that stuff is needed. You can simply cut off a lot of unnecessary information that will not be needed in adult life, and then the training material, perhaps, would be fit in 10 years of studying, not even 11 or 12 “, –  the speaker is convinced.

Vitalii Holubev also stressed, that any changes make sense if they are not stimulated only by the desire to abandon everything in common with the aggressor country and join European practice as soon as possible.

“All this makes sense if, of course, do not pursue the goal at any price to add another element in our life to the principle of ” no matter how, but not in the way it has been before, “” if only unlike Russia “and” as if it’s abroad “. Then, of course, 12 years of education is needed, and without a 12-marks grading, it is simply not possible, and perhaps in general, it is urgent to change to the Latin alphabet and to call the Executive District Officers “prefects”. So that it was “the way it supposed to be”! Only the newly-made prefect will not stop taking the bribe from changing the title of the post. Yes, and the transformation of the high school  into the branch of maternity hospitals – also does not fit any “civilized choice” “, – the expert thinks.

According to Holubev, there are many alternative educational means, that could be developed instead of increasing the number of school years. The teacher stressed, that the state should remove excessive functions from itself, giving them to the market, but instead only an additional burden of the state apparatus takes place.

“It would be advisable to develop the field of online courses, to stimulate non-formal education, to remove all possible obstacles to the opening and development of private educational institutions. Strategically, systematically, it would be much more than an extensive step, such as an increase in the term of schooling. And in terms of rational use of money – the innovation is doubtful. The state must get rid of lots of functions, giving them to the market, and not to overtask itself again. This time by 12 years of education “, –  said in the comment on Opinion.

Is it worth considering an additional year as an obstacle to socialization?

Sociologist Andrii Valenok told Opinion, that an additional year at the school’s premises could harm the timely and natural socialization of the child, since adolescence is exactly the age when an individual has to learn to make decisions on his own, rather than collecting a backpack for school, repeating Shevchenko’s poems taught in the evening.

“This issue has been discussed  for a long time, but soon it will be in action. By studying society, I can say that this reform is not appropriate. Unfortunately, it happened that Ukrainian education does not correspond to the standards that the Ministry of Education and Science puts in place. In addition to the big cities, there are still small towns and villages with very few highly skilled specialists. In modern society, each of us has a socialization process rather quickly, and it is quite normal and usual.

Imagine an 18-year-old boy or girl who is studying at a school. This is the period, when the individual must move to another stage of socialization in life. This is the period when a person already has to learn to make a decision on his own, and not to learn Shevchenko’s  poems. Watching schoolchildren in my professional activities, I can say that they lack the real adult life lessons at school, because each of us, remembering his 18, can confidently say that at that time he was wearing ” rose-tinted glasses”. In this period, on the contrary, we already have to see an 18-year-old man at the first year of university, and not to go to school with a school bag. It must be remembered, that the long stay of children at school can serve him a dirty trick and bring down the process of socialization, which must happen on time “, – assured Andrii Valenok.

Do innovations in cities and villages are considered in the same way?

“Children from villages always help their parents in house holding. In our village there are more children than in a larger neighbor one. They are taken to school by bus. But the children grow, the expenses for their bits and pieces grow, there is practically no work in the village, only income from the sailing hastings, watermelons, grains, milk delivered to the farm. Procurement prices are low, because country-folks are not united in consumer cooperatives. Consequently, poverty comes, especially in recent years.

If a child under 18 is at the desk, then I do not know how the parents will be able to keep it at a certain level. If the diet can still be solved, clothing, shoes, some interesting excursions, etc. – are troublesome. Children from villages  are always deprived of opportunities for development, we do not have extracurricular activities for them. So, thanks to the Internet, there is access to interesting information, but not everyone can afford it, but only a few “, – shared the mistress.

Instead, Olha Zhukova proposed an alternative, that could solve a number of problems. In general, the idea of a folk artist is somewhat reminiscent of the changes expressed by Mykola Skyba, but the need for a scholarship when passing the second part of the study is still added. Also, the author of the comment does not refuse the idea of introducing industrial training lessons that would be oriented at the children from villages.

“If the children had the first part of the school course compulsory, and for the second – they had the opportunity to complete in other educational institutions where there is already a professional training, but with the provision of scholarships. But for this children have to leave home, which is even more expensive. Consequently, this option is not suitable for rural residents, 100%. I talked to the parents of our schoolchildren, they also think so.

Perhaps the issues would be decided by the industrial training lessons, that would be oriented at the children from villages, who want to become farmers, to get other professions needed for the village: operators on the tractor, drivers … Probably, the system of student assignment from United Territorial Communities should be arranged. For example, territorial communities require a hairdresser, a veterinarian, a paramedic, a club leader for a village club, etc. I also believe that changes in the modern education system should be based on the study of the needs of certain professions in our state “, – Olha Zhukova stated in the comment on Opinion.

Andrii Ostash, engineer of design and estimate work, a graduate of Lyceum № 23 in Ivano-Frankivsk, told  Opinion, that during his studies 12-years of schooling were just a rumor. Moreover, the engineer is convinced: sometimes Ukrainians have to know unnecessary things, which are unknown to his foreign friends. However, thinking about the expediency of 12 years of schooling, the speaker assured: if this system is really new, adapted to modern realities and will help students choose the way they want, then he will really believe in its future.

“I graduated from school in 2012, every year we were given something new: new books, then the State final examination was added, then something else. And there were rumors that we would be the first to have 12 years of education. Then it was not implemented, and only now the 12-year education is no longer a project, but a determination.

I visited many international projects, especially when I was in Georgia (there was a project of youth exchange with representatives of 8 countries), he noted that Spanish, Italians studying and “travel” on “Erasmus” almost until 30 years old, and only then thinking of work, family. My foreign friends, acquaintances do not know much of what every “ordinary” person should know and what every Ukrainian citizen will say, for example, how many continents, oceans or satellites there are on Earth.

This topic is rather explicated, and if we take this into account and compare with the success of the nation, then it does not make sense, because “knowing” too many, putting into the head the information, that will not be useful in our development as a state,  won’t get you anywhere.

If the 12-year schooling is simply meant to teach people who will know something, learn, and there will nothing but “theory” – then I do not see this in the future. If the 12-year education is completely new and adapted to modern realities, it will teach not just everyone in a indiscriminate way but will touch each person as an individual and delicately directs the path that the child has already chosen from the first years of school, If people are motivated to stay in Ukraine, and graduates of schools will know what they want and whom they want to become to make their lives and the lives of their loved ones and the people’s life better, then I believe in 12 years of schooling. It all depends on the approach and stability”, –  Andrii Ostash considers.

Text: Dmytro Zhuravel



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