In the last post Education of Value: An Assessment of Accessibility and Engagement – part 1 Robin shared some of his thoughts on education and learning. In this post Robin, develops those ideas further and then starts to introduce his own story.


I firmly believe that education should be made available and accessible to those of all learning abilities, intellect, and skill levels, needs, well-being, and social status, e.g. Financial barriers, whether at school level or for adult learning. It’s the actual learning process that is significant, and how it is delivered, received and made use of, so that the individual benefits from it.

An individual’s aptitude is best brought out by the type and methodology of education available and offered to suit them, and I feel that this is best achieved by a flexible multi-faceted, varied and balanced learning approach, which allows abilities to flourish, ranging from teaching being, direct with an audience, through talk, presentation etc…, interactive with say ICT, or informal involving participation, small group discussions, or individual one-to-one, coaching, mentoring, to activities, hands-on and practical work, with different type and methods of assessments – coursework, examinations etc… together with wide-ranging availability of resources, including material / media and facilities.

Under Achievement?

Why is there under-achievement? An example being, with children leaving school early. If the problem is not home and socially related, and instead educationally related, is it because they feel disaffected, disengaged, or disillusioned? Is the educational learning, formal, felt authoritarian or narrow focused and not rich in say content, and delivery, restrictive of access to facilities, and so on? Are coursework, tests and exams to blame? And yet, education with learning does not have to be stigmatized as all being the same. There are wide-ranging offerings, to suit the individual. The problem is knowing, through finding out what is available. For younger school children, with schooling proceeding into Secondary education, there is parent involvement with decision making, but there comes a point when children become young people and adults and have greater and ultimately the likelihood of sole involvement in decision making. At and during, aged 14-19 year old education, there are important life-changing and even lifelong decisions to be made, such as GCSEs, A levels, Diplomas, Apprenticeships, University, employment etc… Informed and rational decisions have to be made, involving the navigation through choices of education. It’s how it’s done, what support, guidance is available and sought that can make enormous differences. Research is key.

Robin’s Story

In my own case, as an example which follows, I have received and experienced a varied and diverse mix of educational, teaching and learning through different practices and formats, not just with schooling but beyond, through different age and academic stages and levels, and which are useful to compare as a bigger picture, demonstrating the variations that exist, not just with school but across the hierarchy of the overall education system.

I went through schooling following what I can only describe as ‘the standard procedure or route’ through infant and primary schools, doing as required, projects, homework, tests and exams including, surprisingly as not one for being a high achiever, an 11 Plus exam pass to proceed to Grammar School with further more multifaceted assessments. This was a school with an autocratic, archaic regime, with high levels of discipline, for example with corporal punishment in place and being carried out. Class-room sizes were approximately 40 in number, teaching in a formal ‘lecture’ style which was restrictive of teacher to pupil/student attention and overall individual interaction and engagement’.

During this period and leading up to what were then O-Levels, I had an interest in Architecture and even though I didn’t know fully what an Architect actually did, decided this was what I would like to do as a job beyond school, based on the fact that I liked drawing and buildings.

We had some career guidance through school staff, though what qualifications they had for this role, I never knew. Additionally we had a visit from a Careers Advisor, whose advice and information beyond was spoken, seemed to focus on browsing pamphlets and books, and working through a computer program questionnaire, answering questions on likes, dislikes, interests, skills, ambitions etc… which was supposed to analyse and match answers to suggested careers. Interesting results came back sometime after, in a printed format, and I had good matches for a future working as a Jewelry Designer, Airport Manager and surprisingly, even Architect, with additional included and additional information on what each of the professions actually were and what was involved with their work.

I was still keen on pursuing a career in Architecture, already knowing through what I had found out that this meant 7 years training via Higher education, e.g. a University Education and Practical Work Experience. It was commonly understood, being spelt out by careers advice at school, and family friends and acquaintances that application for and study at a University meant undertaking A-levels. Indeed, even today, I still see comments, and most recently on a couple of blog posts, with references for entry to Higher education and Architectural education by A-level qualification.

The requirements for undertaking Architecture at University at this time were quite subject specific at O-level (English and Maths being seen as essential; subjects which I had already passed) rather than specific at A-level. Like everybody else on a University mission, I followed blindly in a sense like sheep and undertook A-levels in subjects I felt comfortable with.

However, sometime into A-level education, I started to question the relevance of these subjects, particularly their practicality for training to be an Architect. What on earth I wondered did Garibaldi (he of Unification of Italy importance and not so much for the biscuits) in my History, and Malthus (Demography and Population) in my Human Geography courses have to do with Architecture?

In the next post Robin describes what he did next on his journey