Education, what’s going on?

Education, what’s going on?

I am amazed at how much blogging Wesley Fryer does. Where do you get the time Wes? And don’t scare me by saying you are just fast…coz I suspect this is true. Output and speed aside, Wesley has some interesting things to say. Like the following that he posted on 12th November this year.

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”Achieving perfection?’ This was an article from October 31st about one of the wealthiest school districts in our state. Certainly the students and teachers there are working hard inside and outside of school, but I think this headline is hyperbole. PERFECTION? The article is about a school which, for the third year in a row, maxed out the state’s mandatory assessment test. Did this test reflect student creativity or problem solving skills? Did this test reflect digital literacy skills? Media literacy? Any type of digital information literacy at all? Of course not. Yet the author of this article is calling that performance PERFECTION?!
Here are some alternative headlines which might have been more appropriate:
– TEST SCORES PROVE AGAIN THAT WEALTHY KIDS OUTPERFORM POOR KIDS (AS A GENERAL RULE) ON STANDARDIZED MEASUREMENTS!
– MINIMUM STANDARDS REACHED AGAIN – IT’S TIME FOR DANCING IN THE STREETS!
– WE’RE PERFECTLY PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS IN THE 19TH CENTURY – NO DIGITAL TOOL USE NEEDED FOR OUR KIDS!
Please note I am NOT writing these comments as a specific ‘dig’ or criticism at the school district highlighted in this article. Rather, I’m being critical of the headline, the perceptions and assumptions it conveys, and the general idea that standardized test score performance is the highest value in public education today. Ugh. Headlines like these make me ill.’

Okay. Wes clearly has a position. And I must say that the more (useful) debate we have about what education should be the more I like it. Australia’s own David Loader has a lot to say about this as well. I posted something about him earlier. David thinks classrooms are out of date and we should rid ourselves of them.

Wes Fryer is also clearly an advocate of education for today and thinks many of our ideas are out-of-date. As I work constantly with unhappy young people who have fallen through the (widening?) cracks in our education system, and with those who are desperately unhappy while outwardly seeming to succeed, I am keen to think and talk about new ways of creating meaning with young people. This might be in school. And it might not.

Okay so here I am today reading an old delightful/difficult novel by J.P. Donleavy ‘A Fairy Tale of New York’ (1973) and there on page 315 is this:

‘And better than all the algebra, the sound a twig makes on an endless summer afternoon.’

And if that is a bit too poetic, then how about Oliver James in
‘Affluenza’ (2007) pages 188-189:

‘Wherever you look in the English-speaking world, a new obsession with exam performance is to be seen. Compared with previous generations, shool-children are menaced from ever-younger ages by assessment.’

Schools are not bad places and teachers are for the most part, good people. Why then do we persist with what we have?

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