Thursday, January 31, 2013

Educational Ideology is not Rocket Science

Suzanne Moore offers a delightfully vitriolic attack on Michael Gove.  What attracts my attention at first, however, is her criticism of him as an ideologue; it seems a long time since we heard ideology used as a dirty word.  Personally I have no problem with ideology; it can be useful to know what a politician's views are, especially if they are developed into a system of thought.  I have some sympathy for Suzanne Moore, nonetheless; it is wrong to measure all students by an academic ebacc.  We need to recognise that academic abilities can, and should be developed; but other abilities need to be recognised and developed as well.  What's more, if we are going to have an educational system, one underpinned by a system of thought, we need one that will educate all students.  I suggest then that we stick with ideology.  We battle out educational principles; they are too patent to be long discussed.  Education is not rocket-science.

An Anarchist Education

I won't pretend that it would work on a national scale, but then the exponents are hardly campaigning to have anarchy institutionalised.  Regardless, Matthew Jenkin has something to offer as he considers the links between the Free Schools of the early 1900s and those being developed in contemporary Britain.  Of particular relevance for the enthusiast is allowing young people to grow up as self-thinking, self-thought, other-aware individuals.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Citizenship should be learned

David Miliband would have us teach citizenship in primary schools.  I am inclined to think that like the other educational add-ons, sex education, religious education, entrepreneurial education, creative thinking, independent learning, citizenship is something that people should learn.  The best education then is to give pupils and students access to a fair, safe and worthwhile educational system.  They can learn thus to belong to a society that matters.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Height of Playing

Susan Steiner bemoans the loss of play in our schools, and in our children's spare time.  She argues that the desire to make them literate, her child included, means that the correct spelling of 'height' has taken priority over the ability to wonder and create and take control over imaginary worlds.  She draws on Donald Winnicott for support; play allows us to use the whole personality.  I am convinced; though maybe it is not the job of schools.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Evidence and Lies

At a time when the government is rightly looking to change the exam system, addressing flaws at GCSE and A Level, it is amusing to read that school improvement, justifying academies, is judged on the current diet of GCSEs and A Levels.  The government is claiming proof of success for its breakneck programme of turning secondary schools into sponsored academies as league tables appear to show these schools generating more rapid improvements in results than the overall average.  It must be possible for somebody to realise that either the exams are flawed, and therefore not worthy of being used as a measurement of success, or else they are valid, and therefore not in need of changing.

A Damaging Report on British Academies

A damaging report on Academies that acts as a further reminder of how lucky I am to be out of the system.  Among other things Ron Glatter comments in his summary that: The report reveals a structure that is fundamentally flawed and that will significantly damage education and worsen inequities.  My disappointment, for what it is worth, is that the government continues to interfere in education, whilst providing schools and the system as a whole with measurements that are self-deceiving.  All students cannot excel academically, and all schools cannot be outstanding, if the measure of outstanding is academic success.  We need to stop fooling ourselves, and to stop rewarding those who allow us to do so.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Close Schools - Bring on the Snow

With 5000 schools closed across the UK many people took the opportunity to play in the snow.  I am reminded of the lyrics: let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  It seems like a fantastic opportunity for people to learn and enjoy.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Outstanding Schools and Outstanding Schools

Secret Teacher resonates as she - I presume it is a she - tells of her experience of moving from an outstanding inner-city school to an outstanding suburban school.  The former is unpredictable and fosters innovation; the latter is predictable and squashes innovation.  An enjoyable read.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leading and Doing - a worthwhile discussion

Ed Batista offers a worthwhile discussion on leading and doing.  As an ex-Senior Manager I recognise some of the challenges faced, and probably would have benefited from some of the reflections discussed.  For now I am happy to be a doer.

JISC Research - Use of Online Gaming in Education

I am not convinced, but this piece of research seems like it is worth following.  The project runs for a year, 2013, and will look at the use of educational online games and resources in Further Education.

Secret Teacher damns Production Line Education

Secret Teacher is always worth a read; and today's offers a wonderful defence of self-confidence over exam grades.  The argument concerns high expectations; what are they, and can we measure them in the manner laid down by Ofsted?  The difficulty, I would suggest, is that the sort of education that breeds self-confidence  is social and cultural, involving, for example, families and communities that care.  Schools cannot compensate for this; and if they keep their bottom line as progress in English and Maths, they are behaving in a sensible, if flawed manner.