Is Scotland’s Progressive Education System a Step in the Right Direction?

Could education be more efficient by taking a more informal approach? Scottish education minister, Michael Russell, certainly thought so. When the Scottish Parliament came to be, Russell believed that their schools were not performing as well as they could. He found the subjects in the curriculum to be divided from each other. Rather than continue with a program in which students stagger from one exam to the next, Scotland introduced what they call the “Curriculum for Excellence”, an active transformation in education that provides a more flexible and enriched curriculum.

This new academic program was designed with principles such as challenge, progression, relevance and coherence in mind. By abiding by these, teachers and schools can more effectively teach, and students will be encouraged to make connections between subjects. This will allow the students to learn with an emphasis on debate and discussion rather than temporary memorization. Administrators believe that this will lead to better information retention and understanding without “watering-down” academic standards. In fact the curriculum demands more of teachers, which in turn asks more of the students- teachers must be more creative in their teaching methods and students must be able to actively think rather than regurgitate facts. Students are encouraged to write creatively, give performances and presentations. This delivery system of knowledge is more engaging and relevant to students, qualities that are crucial to the nature of the millennial generation.

Perhaps Scotland is on to something. In a country, such as the United States, where the high school dropout rate is still an issue, could this be part of the solution? As modern society continues to evaluate and improve as technology advances and perceptions change, is it time for the education system to transform as well?

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