The program is changing. What the new textbooks for high school students should look like

The students who will enter the year in the 9th grade will learn according to a school program adapted to the reality in which we live and which will correspond to the current requirements. We are basically talking about a total reform of high school education. Could it be the light at the end of the tunnel? The specialists consulted by “Adevărul” tried to explain what are the real needs of Romanian students and how the school curriculum should be organized in such a way that we have performance

The Ministry of Education is preparing a reform of high school education. Source: archive

High school students learn from a school curriculum that is more than 20 years old. The schedule is busy, the subjects are extremely dense, the teachers emphasize theory and memorization while practice is almost completely absent. We are talking about an outdated education system that needs to be restructured from the ground up. Education experts will decide what needs to be done, and this should happen by the end of this month, when the framework plans for high school education enter public debate. The reform will be implemented only from the 2025-2026 school year, and the direct beneficiaries will be the students who will then enter the 9th grade.

Bushy subjects, old textbooks, lots of theory, little practice

PISA results they are a landmark that we should take into account and that compels us to do something. And we will do it as quickly as possible”, Iulian Cristache, president of the Parents' Federation, told “Adevărul”. “The current program is not aligned with the requirements of these tests. The framework plans, unfortunately, the current ones, are not made for students, but for the didactic norms of some teachers, so that they ensure their 16-18 hours a week”, Iulian Cristache also specified.

“We have an education system focused on memorization and not on the development of logic and creativity”, this is also the opinion of Ligia Goloșoiu, the president of the Association for the Promotion of Performance in Education. One more reason to change the school curriculum, she claims. “They are high school students who do not know how to make a synthesis or an analysis. They do not have developed logical thinking. Memorize and that's it.”

The current high school education system has such large deficits that there are students who do not know how to write Romanian well, continues Ligia Goloșoiu. “I was a lecturer at ASE. Everything was fine until the exam, when students tried to copy, they came with reports taken from the Internet. I had even more unpleasant surprises: students who did not know how to write Romanian well or did not know how to express themselves. And then we are surprised that they cannot support their CV or an interview in front of the employer. We are talking about a baggage – in the negative sense of the word – some old friends, who had come with them from high school. That has to change.”

The subject matter taught at the high school is boring, both students and parents complain. And as for how old the textbooks are…they were designed when children weren't even born. “The French textbook is, for example, from 1994,” Andreia Bodea, director of the ILCaragiale National College in the capital, explains for “Adevărul”. “This manual talks about how we choose our jobs. But then there were other target jobs, children didn't travel, Romania wasn't in the European Union, we didn't have mobile phones or other gadgets, etc. Imagine what those texts are like. They are totally outdated. Therefore, textbooks must be adapted to the world in which we live now. Today we have other fields of activity, other interests, other visions”.

The road to performance

The parents propose that in the last 2 years of high school, more emphasis should be placed on the exam subjects, so that the children can better prepare for the subjects required for the Baccalaureate and college. “In the 11th and 12th grades, we should insist more on the subjects that are given in the Baccalaureate and college exams. Hours should be more, at the expense of other non-exam subjects. You don't do four hours of math if you're a real major and you're still heading towards the exact sciences. You do eight, ten..less meditation at home, more school at school. If in the last two years of high school, or at least in the last year, depending on the profile, we let them prepare more for the subjects that are given for the exam, then the hours of meditation would be less, the students would learn more in class and we would have nothing but to gain”, Iulian Cristache explained.

“Indeed, in the last two years of high school, children should focus strictly on the subjects for which they will take the Baccalaureate and possibly the college exam. But, until the 10th grade I would go for applied knowledge from all fields and from all areas of training and culture”, Andreia Bodea, the director of the ILCaragiale National College in the capital, also stated. And this is how we get to the “Cinderellas” of the timetable: the optional subjects. Ligia Goloșoiu explained that those that really help the children and prepare them for life are either too few, or they are not found in the timetable at all. “I was successful with financial education. Because I gave them elements on how to conduct themselves and manage situations in everyday life. Children learn theory and then apply it in all kinds of activities to see and understand phenomena. If you learn by rote, you have no way of retaining anything except in the short term. And our duty is to prepare them for the long term, for life”.

Andreia Bodea, director of the ILCaragiale National College in the capital, is convinced that optional subjects really have their importance. “This beach of optionals should be widened, but widened by a head. These, from a certain point on, could even be the tip of the spear in children's education”.

Daniel David: Too big claims

But an extremely important aspect in this whole “revolution” must be remembered. Daniel David, rector of UBB, explained that university professors, many of them, sometimes have too high demands. “Teachers who complain about the poor quality of their students need to understand that performance today is lower than what they were used to 30 years ago. We need to change our teaching style to help students develop. There are many teachers who do not want to adapt. It behaves like it did 25-30 years ago. Which is a big mistake. We are starting to be more selective in Masters and very selective in PhD and postdoc. License but it must be what the high school was in the time of our grandparents. We don't expect to remove all spikes after the license. Once a young person has entered the first year, the teacher has to take them from the level they are at and bring them to a reasonable, acceptable level, because that is why you are a teacher. Not a Nobel laureate who sits around and selects who he wants to work with!”, explains the rector of UBB.