Harlaxton has provided me with so many amazing experiences this semester. Among these opportunities, I had the chance to reach out to and visit a local primary school.
Harlaxton unfortunately doesn’t offer education classes during spring term, so I took it upon myself to reach out and set up a time for me to visit a local school. The headmistress excitedly replied and we set up a meeting time.
Arriving at the school, which is just a 15 minute walk from Harlaxton Manor, I met with the headmistress before receiving a tour of the classrooms. She explained to me how their education system works from Reception (Kindergarten) to primary school, then through secondary school.
After just a few minutes talking to her I decided I need to come teach in the U.K. Seriously. As a future teacher, I’m not afraid to admit that there are many things about the United States education system that are not right. Let me just a take a moment to list a few of the amazing things I learned. (And let me preface this by saying I am in no way an expert on the U.K.’s education system).
What I Learned
In the U.K., they begin in a grade called Reception. There, their curriculum is mostly social and play-based. Through theme-based units they learn important social, motor, and life skills. It is a requirement in this grade that they spend 50% of their day outdoors. Um what. Isn’t that amazing??!
Throughout a child’s entire education experience, they only have a total of three standardized tests. THREE. I’m pretty sure there were years in grade school when I took more than three in a month. Because of this, teachers in the U.K. are less pressured to “teach to the test”.
The curriculum in the U.K. is based on 12 different subjects. This includes basics like math, reading, and science. Also other subjects like art, music, and religion. I love that subjects like the arts and religion are included in the curriculum! Some might be a little iffy about that, but let me tell you why.
While I was there I was able to visit the grade three classroom where they were learning about religion. The school I was visiting was a Church of England school, but that doesn’t limit them. They spend time teaching the students about 5 different religions and the culture, practices, and history surrounding them. I absolutely love that. I think it keeps kids very open minded, and allows them to be knowledgeable about the world around them.
The last thing I loved about this school was that the teachers were able to plan their own class schedules and decide when they would teach what lessons and subjects. In the U.S. most classrooms I’ve experienced have a very limited time for science and the arts. Which is so unfortunate because 30 minutes a few days a week is not early long enough for a science lesson. Here, a teacher could spend an entire day or week on teaching a science unit. Teachers also did a lot of great cross-content lessons to incorporate the arts and science into subjects reading and math. I think it is a very well-rounded system.
I am very, very grateful for the K-12 education I had growing up. I was blessed to live in a safe, nice area and go to some amazing schools. In high school I was able to do a program that allowed me to explore the world of being a teacher. Because of this, I begun observing classrooms my senior year of high school. Through opportunities from my high school and ocllege, I have now visited around ten different elementary schools around Kansas. I know that isn’t a ton, but the schools I have visited weren’t anything like the school I visited in Harlaxton Village.
On top of all of the great things I do love about the education system in Kansas, the primary school I visited offered so much more. I loved so many things about this school. They had great values, they are very hands-on, project-based, accepting, and tolerant. I hope I can find somewhere like this to teach someday. Whether that’s in the U.S. or elsewhere.
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