Pisa, Whitehall and Ofsted are obsessed with maths not because algebra is the key to happiness, or geometry to great riches, but because it is easy to score globally. Bereft of an ideal of a good education, government, and especially central government, likes anything that yields mass data. It holds the key to control, to the regime of rewards and penalties that underpins modern administration and its funding.
Along with phrases appropriated directly from the so-called alt-right, a small group of neotraditionalist educators have invented the concept of ‘school shaming’ to make their reactionary politics seem, well, less reactionary. Criticize a school for how it treats students, and you’re ‘school shaming’. Talk about structural racism and curriculum, and you’re playing ‘identity politics’. Oppose calls to shore up the authority of teachers in the face of supposedly out-of-control youth, and you’re ‘virtue-signalling’.
Masking the real history of high school in America also helps the DeVoses of the world obscure legitimate problems the education system has always faced—problems that have been deliberately created and maintained. Funding inequality and racial segregation are rarely the focus of these sorts of stories about an ever-unchanging educational system. The dominant narrative instead tends to point to teachers or curricula, or even bells and early start times, as the reason schools are “broken” and that students aren’t being adequately prepared for the future.
What makes us good teachers isn’t the school’s or the system’s expectations of us. It is our expectations of ourselves. The value we provide is in the classroom, in our collaborations with colleagues, and in what we do for our students and communities. It will never be on the lesson plan, in our performance management, or in justifying ourselves to superiors. We all have our DBS certificates. It’s high time we de-bullshited our education system. And Damian Hinds and his ilk had better muck in, lest they finally convince us that being a politician is the ultimate bullshit job, and the only non-bullshit job left in education is supply teaching.
I do believe that educators need to continually kickback at the notion that students are customers because it fundamentally changes the nature of our relationship, boiling it down to dollars and sense. Getting a post-secondary education isn’t like buying a new car. Deep learning has to be driven by something other than economics and the more the language of consumerism seeps into our conversations, the more education adopts values that mimic the market. And we are not the market.
Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?
The Morrison government has threatened to withhold billions of dollars of funding earmarked for Australian public and private schools next year if states refuse to sign up to its new education funding deal.
“If Mr Tehan were serious about education, he would work with states and territories to provide fair funding for every child rather than come up with solutions that pit one sector against the other.”
This feels like Groundhog Day. I am a little sick of the politics associated with state education. The way this is going I might threaten to vote Labor in the next election 🤷♂️
The tech elite now making a power-grab for public education probably has little to fear from FBI warnings about education technology. The FBI is primarily concerned with potentially malicious uses of sensitive student information by cybercriminals. There’s nothing criminal about creating Montessori-inspired preschool networks, using ClassDojo as a vehicle to build a liberal society, reimagining high school as personalized learning, or reshaping universities as AI-enhanced factories for producing labour market outcomes–unless you consider all of this a kind of theft of public education for private commercial advantage and influence.
The Textbook or a Problem to Solve In 1920, Sister Domatilla published the results of her experiments with a new kind of pedagogy called ‘the project method’. Writing in The American Journal of Nursing, she explains her concern that “old methods of teaching” do not give students “a genu...
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When you don’t have the Physical space for innovation, the process takes longer. This might be true because there is less visibility of ideas and progress, fewer opportunities for working collaboratively and poorer communication between teams.
If our Cognitive space is crowded and overwhelming us, we will likely only engage at the surface level. The commitment to the work will probably wain over time as other competing agendas and projects take their toll. Mental energy is limited.
Time is a crucial ingredient for any creative or innovation work. Without enough quality time, ideas might become less ambitious and revert to safe bets.
Without the Emotional commitment to the work, we get projects that fizzle out. We don’t see the connection to the broader purpose and start to reduce our energy and effort as the drive is not there. Fighting our neurobiology is futile.
If we are trying to innovate without Agency in a culture that historically moderates heavily from the top-down, it creates apathy. Why bother getting invested in innovation when nothing changes? Why should we care when the decision is out of our hands?