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This house believes extra-curricular activities in schools should be formally recognised.
This house believes extra-curricular activities in schools should be formally recognised.
The term curriculum refers to the programme of study in various academic subjects (e.g Maths, English, History, Science, Spanish) followed by students at various levels of education. The school or college's teaching staff are employed to teach this curriculum, and students are periodically assessed (e.g. by exams and term papers) in their progress in each curriculum subject. As they grow older, students' achievements in their curriculum subjects are seen as important in helping them get into a good university or college, and to find a good job when they leave education. Depending on which country you are in, schools and colleges may also be held accountable for their students' results in the curriculum subjects.
The academic curriculum has never been all that schools and colleges offer to their students. Often a range of other classes, clubs and activities is available to students, sometimes in lessons but more often in the lunch break or after school. These are referred to as extra-curricular activities and they are mostly voluntary for students. Examples would include sports, musical activities, debate, Model United Nations, community service, religious study groups, charitable fundraising, Young Enterprise projects, military cadet activities, drama, science clubs, and hobbies such as gardening, crafts, cookery and dance. Because they are not examined in the same way that the academic curriculum is, and because most of them take place outside lessons, such activities have less status in education than the main curriculum. However, they are often held to be very important to the wider education of young men and women. This topic examines whether the extra-curriculum should be given more importance in schools and colleges
|Points For||Points Against|
|Extra-curricular activities provide children with a rounded education.||Students should be focused on gaining the specialist skills they need for their chosen profession.|
|Students have the right to be able to choose a broad education.||Extra-curricular activities are prohibitively expensive for schools.|
|Extra-curricular activities have important health benefits.||Academic qualifications are the most important for the future.|
|Extra-curricular activities encourage interpersonal interactions that are good for building a strong civil society.||Making extra-curricular activities compulsory makes them less attractive to the student.|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Extra-curricular activities provide children with a rounded education.
The normal curriculum can only go so far as to teach and educate students about academic theories. But students whose only experience of school or college is one of rigid academic study may not be able to apply what they have learned in practice.1 Extra curricular activities encourage a diverse range of skills and methods of learning that encompass the diverse needs of students. For example, schemes such as Young Enterprise allow students to experience of practical business skills and valuable communication and team work skills. If the extra-curriculum was given an equal footing in student life there will be an improvement in the student ability to grasp things as a whole, because students will have received a more rounded education.Improve this
The academic curriculum is the priority of schools and must continue to be given more status in schools and colleges than the extra-curriculum. Students are meant to be receiving an education and gaining recognised qualifications which will help them to progress in their chosen career.1 And if extra-curricular activities distract students from focusing on their academic qualifications, then they could be actually harmful.Improve this
Students have the right to be able to choose a broad education.
Many children have talents in all sorts of different areas, and it is wrong to force them to specialise too early. 'Every child and young person is entitled to experience a broad general education'1 Even if a student does not aim to be a professional musician they should still have opportunity to learn an instrument. A career is not the only, or most the important, part of an adult's life – school needs to make sure they have interests and skills that will help them in their family and leisure lives too. Through equal balancing of academic and extra-curriculum, however, the students have the chance to exercise their rights, learn a diverse range of skills and the opportunity to be multi-talented.Improve this
Students should also have the right to focus on the subjects or activities that they want or need to. If extra-curricular activities are so good, then students should have right to choose whether they wish to pursue them, rather than forcing them to give equal importance to something they do not wish to do. Through equalising the demands of academic and extra-curriculums there exists the possibility that a student may drop out because he or she may not be able to cope with the demands of both sets of activities.1 The right to an education is best exercised by giving students the choice to decide what field their lives would like to be based on, and about how to pursue these aims.Improve this
Extra-curricular activities have important health benefits.
Most extra-curricular activities are physically active, getting the student out from behind their desk and making them try new things. Physical activity is extremely important for general health whilst ensuring that students are exposed to practical tasks, not just what is taught in class.1 Sports clubs and teams give students the opportunity to do physical exercise in an enjoyable environment whilst activities such as the Duke of Edinburgh award teach skills such as map reading and organisation of a group. The outcome of giving the extra-curriculum the same status as the curriculum will therefore be well balanced individuals. Schools have a pastoral duty to consider the well-being of their pupils which includes physical health and practical abilities.Improve this
It is not clear that extra-curricular activity needs to be formally recognised in order to fulfil this role. The importance is exercising, not whether it is assessed or not. Many extra-curricular activity are not physically demanding (such as debating) and so would be of little health use. Society needs to ensure that students are taught specialisms to an appropriate degree.1 Most modern careers require expert knowledge and skills, which can take years to acquire. The Prime Minister does not play soccer or tango in the House of the Commons, therefore they do not require such skills as part of their formal education.Improve this
Extra-curricular activities encourage interpersonal interactions that are good for building a strong civil society.
Boosting the place of the extra-curriculum in schools is one way of addressing a weakness in modern society, a lack of civil strength and community. Activities offered in schools are vital in providing opportunities to learn the diverse skills help to equip young people with the civic spirit, initiative and organising skills to set up their own clubs, teams and activity groups when they leave education. An article in The Guardian argues that 'The riots suggest that the education system must concern itself with a lot more than simple exam results'.1 A successful extra-curriculum often depends on building links between the school and the wider community, bringing local enthusiasts in to work with students, and sending students out to work on community projects, help in primary schools, perform for local audiences, etc. Thus, extra-curricular activities have wider social implications than the individual schools and pupils.Improve this
Giving extra-curricular activities greater importance in education can be harmful to civil society as a whole. There are many clubs, teams and groups available for young people already in most areas e.g. Scouts, religious work, music, drama, sport, voluntary work in the community, etc. Only giving school-based activities credit can damage clubs and group beyond the walls of the schools. Often pursuits offered by schools end up replicating those already available in the wider community. For example, a school hockey team may deprive the local town’s hockey club of young players, while school adventure activities might weaken the community’s Scouting and Guiding groups. This would be a shame as a strong civil society is vital to a thriving democratic culture, but also because groups that involve people of all ages possess great social and educational value.Improve this
Students should be focused on gaining the specialist skills they need for their chosen profession.
Students should be allowed to focus upon subjects and activities that will help them towards their chosen career. Most specialist professions still provide a range of career opportunities, without any need to compromise academic education by over-emphasis on non-academic activities. There are concerns that schools do not focus enough on core subjects: 'School-leavers and even graduates lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, according to a survey of big employers'.1 In most aspects of life skills specific to an individual job are more important than whether they are "well-rounded". In addition, changes in career are possible but not necessarily desirable. For example, athletes who have been injured in mishaps can continue their career in the same field but just in a different post. No longer could they play, but they could still coach or even give sports science lectures to aspiring super stars. And if someone does wish to radically switch career in mid-life, there are plenty of evening classes and continuing education opportunities to allow them to retrain.Improve this
Having a wide range of experiences through extra-curricular activities prepares people better for the future, especially in today's uncertain world. The broad education that the extra-curriculum can provide provides experiences and skills for life in a society where an individual may change career several times in their life. Students must therefore have a fundamental grasp of multiple skills.1 For instance, athletes who had their career cut short due to mishaps might venture into business, having had extra-curricular experience of entrepreneurship as part of their education. Placing more emphasis on the extra-curriculum thus ensures a variety of possibilities for young people to choose from instead of being sidelined. Such are the more profound benefits of the extra-curriculum being integrated into the syllabus.Improve this
Extra-curricular activities are prohibitively expensive for schools.
Giving a greater place in education to the extra-curriculum means that many more clubs and activities will have to be organised for students. This will be very expensive as it will require more staff and more resources to be paid for. This explains why most schools that currently offer a large extra-curriculum are well-funded fee-paying institutions. Most ordinary schools, dependent on state-funding, will never be able to match this spending and could not aim to offer an ambitious extra-curriculum.1 If they try, it will be at the expense of more important academic activities.Improve this
An ambitious extra-curricular programme is quite affordable for schools and colleges of all kinds. State schools in Singapore and many public universities in the USA are able to offer strong extra-curriculums, and elsewhere many state-funded institutions have thriving extra-curricular activities. Most extra-curricular pursuits are not expensive to run, and those activities that might be more expensive, such as military cadet groups and science clubs, can often apply to outside agencies for funding. Staff often given their time free, because they believe the activities are worthwhile for the students and enjoyable for themselves to run, and many groups can also be supported by unpaid volunteers from the wider community.Improve this
Academic qualifications are the most important for the future.
Higher Education institutions place a greater importance on the curriculum than the extra-curriculum when selecting students, and so do employers. University admissions tutors are not interested in whether a student applying for medicine for example is able to play a musical instrument. Nick Collins in The Telegraph says that 'the suggestion that non-academic pursuits could make any difference to pupils' applications is a myth, according to Mike Nicholson, director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford.'1 Extra-curricular activities are fun, but they have never been shown to actually play a vital role in a student's life.Improve this
Extra-curricular activities prepare students practically for the future offering important skills for the workplace and wider society. Such activities are particularly good at providing opportunities for students to work in teams, to exercise leadership, and to take the initiative themselves. These experiences make students more attractive to universities and to potential employers. A key CV advice site states that 'Employers want candidates with a wide range of transferable skills and experience.'1 Employers are interested in skills that are adaptable to different roles and aspects of work.Improve this
Making extra-curricular activities compulsory makes them less attractive to the student.
Making extra-curricular activity compulsory will take the fun out of it and strip it of its benefits. 'In the end, the key is fun.'1 Successful extra-curricular groups work precisely because the students have voluntarily chosen to be there. If some were forced to take part, they would be less enthusiastic and spoil the activity for the rest. And the more the activity is like ordinary school, the less attractive it will be to young people. Most of the personal development benefits associated with extra-curricular commitments – such as altruistic service, initiative-taking, and leadership skills – come from the voluntary nature of the activity. If that voluntary aspect is removed, then the benefits are lost too.Improve this
If the extra-curriculum was given formal importance, with students required to undertake at least one activity, then more people would try new things, and discover they like them.1 Many students do not take advantage of the extra-curricular opportunities they are currently offered. They may instead waste their time lazing around, or maybe even making trouble. These young people do not know what they are missing; if they could be made to try other activities they would surely enjoy them and gain a lot of benefit.Improve this
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