Best ever time to be educated
THERE have been radical improvements in education over the ages. Today one of the most startling improvements is the tools used for learning. Early learning materials included the horn book in Tudor times – a wooden plaque with the alphabet and perhaps the Lord's Prayer on one side and a blank writing surface on the other. Even in Victorian times paper was saved for best work – at other times slates were used.
For generations the abacus was a familiar counting tool in mathematics, and only comparatively recently have slide rules and modern- day calculators been introduced. Computers and the internet are now helping to revolutionise teaching methods and most schools nowadays have their own website. Although today we worry about class sizes and pupil-teacher ratios, many Victorian teachers would wonder what all the fuss was about, classes of 40 and over were all too common and frequently included several age groups.
A visitor from the past would be astonished by the atmosphere of today's classroom, especially the informal interaction between teacher and pupil and the freedom to state conflicting points of view. In past generations this would have been seen as insubordination. This rigidity was also present in teaching methods.
One thing is certain, however much today's children may groan at the prospect of the school day there has never been a better time to be educated.
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Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
D F Courtney