Education conversation questions
- What is the purpose of children's education? Put these in order of importance.
- To give children skills.
- To teach children facts.
- To indoctrinate children in the moral/religious values of the society in which they live.
- To teach children how to get along with others.
 Childhood education
- It is said that children learn more in the first two years of life than at any other stage. What kinds of things have children learned by the age of two? What do they learn themselves and what are they taught?
- Decide what are the three most important qualities of an ideal parent. Are there any other qualities that you would like to add to your list?
- How would you rate the way that your parents brought you up?
- If you are a parent, how do your rate yourself? If you are not a parent, do you think that you would make a good one?
- Should parents try to teach their children before they go to school? What things should they teach?
- Who is mainly responsible for a child’s academic success - the parents or the teachers?
 Secondary school
- Do you agree that “Most of the work that adolescents do is simply a waste of time, energy and patience. It robs youth of its chance to play.”
- Which subjects did you find easiest to pick up at school?
- If you were giving advice to a young person about useful subjects to study, what would you recommend?
- Did you ever play truant at school? What should (or could) be done to reduce this problem?
- Were you ever accused of being a teacher’s pet? Was there one in your class? What sort of things did he/she do?
- Were you given a lot of homework? Did you always complete it? How did you feel about it? Was there anything else you would have preferred to do?
- What do you think of the idea of boys-only or girls-only schools?
- What did your teacher do to preserve order and discipline in class? What would you do if you were a teacher and you had a class of difficult children?
- Did you go to a public (private) school or a state-run school? Would you say there was much difference in the quality of education provided? How would you describe the difference?
- Was your school more concerned about students learning things by heart or understanding them? What would the ideal system involve? What changes would you introduce?
- Did anything special use to happen on the last day of school before the school broke up?
- Did you use to cram before taking an exam or did you knuckle down several months before? What would you say is the best system?
- What percentage of people drop out of the university system in your country? Is it harder or easier for them to find jobs?
- What does the education system do to prepare people for work or to assist them to find jobs? Is it efficient?
- Why do people go to university? To obtain job skills? To get a degree? To have a good time? To find a husband/wife?
- Some people in the UK get jobs through their school or university connections. Do many people in your country get jobs through the "old school tie"? What other connections could be useful if you wanted to get a job?
 Teaching styles
There are two basic teaching styles: a) teachers who transmit their knowledge, and b) teachers act as facilitators to the students' own learning process. Which of them, in your experience, is the most effective?
The following questionnaire sent out by the OECD asked teachers to identify themselves with one of the two styles. Which of the statements do you agree with? Why/why not?
 Direct transmission beliefs about teaching
- Effective/good teachers demonstrate the correct way to solve a problem.
- Instruction should be built around problems with clear, correct answers, and around ideas that most students can grasp quickly.
- How much students learn depends on how much background knowledge they have; that is why teaching facts is so necessary.
- A quiet classroom is generally needed for effective learning.
 Constructivist beliefs about teaching
- My role as a teacher is to facilitate students’ own inquiry.
- Students learn best by finding solutions to problems on their own.
- Students should be allowed to think of solutions to practical problems themselves before the teacher shows them how they are solved.
- Thinking and reasoning processes are more important than specific curriculum content.