Wednesday 18 May 2016

16-step programme to make education better. Not.

1. Look across the whole glorious landscape of human wisdom and knowledge.
2. Select from it those parts of it that can be chopped up into 'subjects'.
3. Within these subjects, select those parts of it that you think you can call 'core' or 'essential'.  
4. Order teachers to teach the 'subjects'.
5. Tell examiners to test the subjects in ways that will show that human beings, when measured in terms of their ability to answer questions on the test, are distributed on a graph in the same way every time:  that is, according to what's known as the 'bell curve'. 
6.  Reward examiners for devising tests which do indeed produce the bell curve. 
7. Get people to say that the bell curve is 'natural' or that this shows something important about what defines us as human beings. 
8. Ignore the fact that you have chopped up knowledge in such a way (mostly in little bits which have right/wrong answers) so as to make it precisely the kind that can be measured in this way. 
9. Ignore the fact that there are people in the real world, outside of education, saying that - looking across the whole glorious landscape of human wisdom and knowledge -  there are many, many things, processes, events, ways of inventing, being and interacting that are not included in the self-serving circle of producing chopped-up knowledge for the bell curve, no matter how it is dignified with such names as 'core knowledge'. 
10. Tell teachers to teach children to sit the tests.
11. Tell the public that it's naughty of teachers to teach children to sit the tests. 
12. Take note of the fact that  children do indeed come out in the shape of a bell curve but don't make too much fuss about it in case people cotton on to the fact that the whole thing was set up to produce the bell curve in the first place. 
13. Ensure that sufficient numbers of people running all this call this 'fair', 'sensible', 'reliable' and 'valid'. 
14. Tell the population that this is 'rigorous' because children are learning the 'basics' now. 
15.. Try to obscure from view that the tests have a secondary purpose in terms of forcing conversion of local authority schools to become academies, and academies to in an endless cycle of disruption, stress and pressure. 
16. Say that education is getting better.