The School ‘Gene Pool’

Six months ago, I was watching an RSA presentation by Sir Ken Robinson. One aspect particularly caught my attention; this was the idea of an educational ‘Gene Pool’. This fired my thinking; he was right! Our educational system (Regime may be a better description) has a DNA of its very own! Unfortunately that Gene Pool is out of date.

So what is contained in the school ‘Gene Pool’ let’s have a look…
Lining-up, Bells, Lessons, Year groups,  Sit still-Be quiet, Mr/Mrs/Sir/Miss, Exercise books, Text books, Underline heading, Stickers, Assembly, Good presentation, Uniform, Corridor etiquette, Hands up, Ability groups, Grades, Exams, Looking = listening, Certificates, Maths is important and art is not, Core subjects get you a good job, Timetable, Bright pupils Or not, Work, You’re academic or not, Whistle = stop, Guess what’s in the teacher’s head etc…

I’m sure you could think of plenty more. The point being, which ones actually add to the learning adventure the pupils should be on? What is the point of bells? Why does presentation have to be ‘neat?  Why is art discarded to the lower echelons of curriculum hierarchy?

How does the educational ‘Gene Pool’ relate to the world beyond the school gates. Has education got it right?

We would contend that it hasn’t! The school Gene Pool is too old, outdated and not fit for purpose. Imagine if life beyond the classroom was the same: going to the gym would have to be a P.E lesson (We’d have to stay for an hour as well!); we’d all have to wait for a bell for lunch, who would be in the higher ability ‘surgeons’ group in the local hospital? What would the timetable be when we were on holiday?  When would we have the time to record our every move (Neatly of course)? And what would happen to the crowd at the football match when the referee blew the whistle?

Whilst this post is a little tongue-in-cheek, it has a serious message…Children in schools are too often being trained simply to operate within a school, not within a society. The school ‘Gene Pool’ does not reflect the lives children will have!

In Twitter however we have found some hope! Especially the innovative use of ICT (as apposed to it being an extra trimming within a Victorian model) Blended learning, Google Docs, Blog writing, Video and Editing etc offer pupils a link with the ‘real world’ – Why – Because this is the world in which children are growing up. A world where change is continual, where time is irrelevant, technology is king and where learning is accessible at any time in any place! This should be a starting point for a revolution; a new school ‘Gene Pool!’

The Thought Weavers


3 thoughts on “The School ‘Gene Pool’

  1. Hi, Thanks for your message on twitter and the follow. Noting your focus here I champion the following conceptual model introduced through a website and blog – Welcome to the QUAD:

    Originally created in the UK by Brian E Hodges (Ret.) at Manchester
    Metropolitan University – Hodges’ Health Career – Care Domains – Model [h2cm]

    – can help map health, social care and OTHER issues, problems and solutions. The model takes a situated and multi-contextual view across four knowledge domains:

    * Interpersonal;
    * Sociological;
    * Empirical;
    * Political.

    Our links pages cover each care (knowledge) domain e.g. INTERPERSONAL:


    I am sure there is a point at which children can be introduced to this model to encourage and facilitate their personal and collective reflections on health, social care [PSHE] and their place in the wider world.

    Best regards,

    Peter Jones
    RMN, RGN, CPN(Cert), PGCE, PG(Dip) COPE, BA (Hons.).
    Community Mental Health Nurse for Older Adults,
    Independent Scholar and Informatics Specialist
    Lancashire, UK
    h2cm: help 2C more – help 2 listen – help 2 care

  2. A great post that both had me laughing but also got me thinking.

    I was in a business meeting recently when the fire alarm went off. There was actually a fire but as tends to happen in the real world, we all stayed put until someone came around to tell us we really did need to leave the building. Then it was mayhem. There was no way of knowing if everyone was out and it took a long time before the problem was resolved and we were allowed back in.

    This would not happen with a bunch of children. They’d have responded promptly and appropriately and every last one would have been accounted for within minutes.

    I consider that a good thing.

    It is one of very few instances that I can think of though where this type of learning is beneficial. Like you I think we should be making way for some more free thinking and moving learning forwards into the 21st century instead of constantly drawing our inspiration from days of old.

    We’ve all evolved, it’s time our teaching did too!

  3. My pet hate is mis used apostrophies ask any of the 100s of kids I’ve taught and I’ve bloody put one in in last post – soz. Sentiments the same though. My kids can write a masterpiece but if it’s not neatly underlined and joined up they won’t get a pen licence til they are drawing their pension #frustratedannoyedSMT

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