Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Today's irony: education hinders 'interpretation' whilst market 'choice' demands it!

This morning's ironic thought

Our leaders have constructed an education system which downgrades the role of students'  'interpretation' and 'reflection' in face of 'content' and 'knowledge'. This is coupled to notions that there is a fixed sequence to the acquisition of the right to be 'creative' or the right to 'interpret'. That is, first you must be told or given 'the facts'/knowledge/'content' and only after that do you have the right or the ability to be 'creative' or to use your powers of 'interpretation'.

In fact, there's a triple squeeze on 'interpretation' : 1) too much content to get through 2) you have to do content first and only 'later' do you earn the right to interpret and 3) some students (or children) aren't capable of it anyway.

For those of us coming from the other side, we think that all human beings are capable of interpreting and creating - given the opportunity. There isn't any conflict between learning 'about', learning 'how' whilst interpreting or creating. So, almost any three year old learning to enjoy or learning the words of eg 'We're going on a bear hunt' is quite capable of interpreting what the bear is thinking or saying on the last page of the book where there are no words. They are quite capable of creating a scenario for that bear. Particularly if they talk to each other in pairs or small groups, rather than being asked direct questions by a teacher.

That scene - of children interpreting and creating - in this case, verbally, is one denied over and over again by people like Gove, Portillo (yes, he's an expert on education, I heard him voice this denial on the Politics Show the other night), and many others.

Now, cut to the recent budget. The Tories have told us that they are going to set people 'free' by enabling people retiring to do what they want with whatever money they have when they retire. So, imagine someone with, let's say, 10 grand. That person will then be confronted with competing sets of data coming from various people offering short and long term solutions of what to do with 10 grand. The difficult job facing anyone in this circumstance is 'interpretation'.

I take this as the latest example of what we call 'everyday life' - the most obvious one being the con of 'choice' between companies offering us gas, electricity, broadband, phones and TV. This 'choice' is 'good' - according to the dogma of the market. We love this kind of choice. (Note it's not 'control' ie we as humanity don't 'control' how we make, get and receive power, we just choose between companies trying to find different ways of conning us.

So, the status quo is 'choice' which the government tell us we know how to make. Meanwhile, they create an education system which hinders our ability to interpret and - needless to say - to 'create' alternative visions of how this stuff  - finance, power, digital services, etc etc - could be given us.

You'd think it was a conspiracy, if you were a conspiracy theorist.