Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Opening doors to the future

Now, we all get a bit proprietary about our best students. When subject selection comes around we all have a quiet chat with our students about what they intend to do and how they think they can get there.

Then we recommend courses for them.

These courses set up their higher education opportunities. In my case I sat Maths II/III exams many years ago - the new courses equivalent being combined Maths 3A/B/C/D MAT and 3A/B/C/D MAS.

I was not a high achiever in school - ending in the 50%'s or thereabouts. Achievers in high end maths tend to go into Engineering, vet science courses and the like.. obviously not a teacher like myself.

What these courses did for me though was open doors throughout my career. I was able to enter physics, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, biology, computing and ultimately teaching courses at university using mathematics prerequisites and skip bridging courses. As a programmer I could understand technical algebra and trigonometric requirements, I was able to assist my wife complete her business degree, we were able to better manage our finances to buy our first home, as company director I could understand statistical and financial requirements, calculus gave me the ability to challenge what I thought were my limits(bad maths pun) and go beyond them.

Sure I could have scored higher in Mathematics I (2A/B/C/D or 2C/D/3A/B equivalent) and probably gained a higher TEE score but thankfully my maths teacher took a punt and put me in the higher maths classes.

My point is that as a student I wanted to be a teacher at that time (..and a company director.. and married to a ballerina.. and a millionaire.. retire by 30.. pay off my home by 25 ..and be a writer..). Without higher maths I may have been locked into teaching and not do all the other stuff. My maths opened doors and raised people's expectation of my capabilities, giving me the dozens of occupations I have been involved with and the ten enjoyable years of courses at university.

Is it right to narrow a student education to maximise TEE scores for a current occupational whim rather than stretch them as far as they can go to enable future potential and enable unthought of occupations?

I emphatically think not.

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