UK children ‘lack the grit to succeed’ compared to Asian counterparts

The Mail is reporting suggestions  that British children may lose out to their Asian counterparts when they reach work “because they are so mollycoddled in class”.

A new global league table of ‘character education’ – to be released later this year – will compare the performance of pupils in more than 70 countries in life skills such as team-building, problem-solving and leadership…

Experts say students in Singapore, China and Japan may excel at these tasks because their teachers expect them to take more responsibility for themselves and their learning…

Andreas Schleicher, its director for education and skills, said this was an area where countries in East Asia have traditionally given greater emphasis on values in education, which created ‘a learning environment with more responsibility on individuals’.

He said schools in countries such as China and Singapore could ‘possibly’ beat the UK in the rankings because of these traditions, but stressed that it was too early to say for sure as the results had not yet been compiled.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has already begun a drive to instil ‘grit and resilience’ by promoting rugby in schools – a move about which Mr Schleicher has reservations. ‘I don’t see any reason why rugby would be a better way of teaching character than mathematics,’ he said.

‘I think teaching character has a lot to do with how we behave, what behaviour we value.

‘I don’t think it’s an issue of an additional school subject – it’s a lot more about how we teach.’

…Alan Smithers, professor of education at the University of Buckingham, said a culture of over-protection could be stopping British children developing good life skills.

‘Woolly-minded educationalists have persuaded our schools that it’s a bad thing to tell students they’re not doing as well as they would want,’ he said.

‘By trying to protect them, you’re not giving them the experience of the hard knocks that are inevitably part of life. It can counteract character development.’

More at: UK is suffering because our children ‘lack the grit to succeed’ compared to Asian counterparts 


There a lot of ground covered here, not least the fact that the results have not even been compiled yet, so it is all speculation.

That aside, what do you think of the suggestion that Asian countries might be preparing their children for adult life more effectively because they create learning environments that place more responsibility on individuals?

Or, by contrast, that in the UK we have created an over-protective classroom culture?

And what of Mr Schleicher’s apparent criticism of Nicky Morgan’s drive to get rugby into schools to teach character?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Morgan’s “grit and resilience” ideas are the usual political soundbite nonsense one has come to expect from DfE ministers

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The problem teachers have in UK is that successive govts have denigrated teaching and placed all power into parent hands

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Continual slating from media/MPs means public lack trust in tchers; some parents will not face facts regarding child’s perf

  4. peterabarnard

    SchoolsImprove Teachers -an easy target. Kids mentioned are pro-school, respectful and ready to learn. Too many Y7s arrive unable to read.

  5. peterabarnard

    SchoolsImprove The point is to design these matters in not keep adding them to a deficit model. We’re in the area of complete ed. garbage

  6. secretunionrep

    SchoolsImprove let’s stop forcing teachers to spoon feed to pass the test then and stop PRP and the current assessment obsession!

  7. andylutwyche

    MrJDexter SchoolsImprove Absolutely – MPs over past 20 yrs have essentially removed the role of parent from parents & given it to schools

  8. Just completed a two-week MOOC re character education.  Was initially sceptical – Morgan’s ‘grit and resilience’ beefed up by Rugby coaching is way off the mark.  But character ed as described in the MOOC discussed civil character virtues (eg volunteering), moral character virtues (eg compassion, humility, honesty) and performance character virtues (resilience, yes, but also determination and creativity).  These three categories combine to form ‘good sense’: knowing what to want and what not to want when the demands of two or more virtues collide.  Good sense presupposes the possession of intellectual virtues such as curiosity and critical thinking.
    The latter is one of those ‘skills’ denigrated by Nick Gibb.
    Details of the MOOC are here.

  9. OECD warned in 2011 that the excessive emphasis on exam results in England risked negative consequences such as squeezing out other important skills.  The Govt’s response?  Increase the emphasis.
    It’s a red herring to suggest English pupils lag behind because they’re ‘molly-coddled’ or because of ‘woolly-minded educationalists’.

  10. VictoriaJaquiss

    Do you know I think we should help children be themselves, and bring that out [educere]. Forcing naturally shy people to become leaders for example risks their mental health.

  11. VictoriaJaquiss

    Do you know I think we should help children be themselves, and bring that out [educere]. Forcing naturally shy people to become leaders for example risks their mental health.

  12. VictoriaJaquiss This was discussed by contributors to the MOOC re character education which I’ve just completed (see my comment below).  One of the schools which won a ‘character award’ said it was producing ‘tomorrow’s leaders’.  Comments pointed out that not everyone could be a leader and telling children they were tomorrow’s leaders could encourage over-confidence, arrogance and a sense of entitlement.

Let us know what you think...