Posted in Learning, Schools, Studying, Teaching

What future for education

A week or so ago I decided to sign up to do a course called ‘What future for education’.

It was the title of the course that caught my eye as I am working through a period of deep ambivalence about education and thought this might provide me with some answers, or at the very least give me something else to think about. You know how I like to think!

It is an online course like many others: there are lectures (and in this instance, they are brave enough to call them lectures – I like that), there are readings, there are discussions to be had, activities to complete (an entry on a Padlet wall – some of you may remember adding to a Wall Wisher Wall in your own studies … it’s now called Padlet), and a tweet or two.

And a blog post. Hence my presence here today.

I could have started another blog and used that just for the course, but decided against that. Mostly for pragmatic reasons; I have a collection of applications that I’ve signed up for because of various studies I’ve undertaken and many of them I don’t use once the study is finished. Or once I decide to stop studying. And so I thought I’d write my blog posts here and you can be be amazed that I still haven’t learnt to read the unit outline and take any notice of deadlines. This blog post was supposed to be in yesterday, for instance.

But I’m supposed to write a 200-word blog post on: Based on your experience as a learner, what do you think you will be able to get out of this course? And what ideas do you already have about the future of education? So here goes.

What I will get out of this course … that’s an interesting way to phrase this question. Does that mean the same thing as ‘what will I learn from this course’? I’m going to say yes, and so will reword the question and write about what I expect to learn by completing this course.

I expect to learn about a range of perspectives on education – what education might look like in the future; how we might shape education; what education is for; why we educate. I want to learn what others have to say about education, others who aren’t politicians, others who know something about education and have ideas about it. I expect to learn how education can move away from the abyss of commodification and towards a focus on learning.

What ideas do I already have about education? I’m going to imagine that the term ‘education’ here is used to mean ‘formal education’ whether that’s in a school or university.

  • I see a distinct shift towards education being a commodity that is bought and sold, with as little effort made by the ‘consumer’ as that required to buy a lipstick.
  • Education has less to do with learning and more to do with a qualification or a result that allows the student access into other areas of education (from Year 6 to secondary school; from Year 12 to university), and then into the ‘real’ world.
  • Education has become enfeebled by a narrow focus on literacy and numeracy to the detriment of developing learners (people) who can engage in creative, critical, and ethical thought (and action).
  • Teachers (including university academics who teach) are increasingly stymied in their efforts to encourage learning, instead being forced to focus on assessing (there’s much more weighing than there is nourishing).
  • School teachers are little more than automatons – delivering a curriculum that is divorced from their students and developed by outsiders who have political points to make; being handed scripted lessons to deliver; having very little say in what is taught and how it’s taught.
  • The future of education is bleak.

 


 

So, for what it’s worth, that’s my less than cheery summation of the future of education.

Author:

I like to travel and take photographs. I like to blog about both.

3 thoughts on “What future for education

  1. Hi Sharon, I hope you’re well.

    That is indeed a bleak future of formal education you’ve painted. Any advice for how to respond as a parent of pre-schooler (and with another baby on the way!)?

    I’m guessing you might say I should look to filling the gaps left by formal education by encouraging learning (as not just a means, but also an end); developing creative, critical and ethical thinking; etc. Perhaps also emotional development, which you didn’t mention explicitly, but I felt you eluded to.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Warm regards,
    Todd

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    1. Hello Todd, how lovely to hear from you.

      My post is quite pessimistic, isn’t it? But I have to say, I’m very disillusioned at the moment. One thing I didn’t make clear in my post was that I’m not disillusioned with individual teachers, particularly those who are trying really hard to engage their students in learning that is engaging and stimulating and that fosters curiosity and creativity and critical thought … and there are plenty of teachers in that category.

      The thing that I am most disillusioned with is the system, and most particularly with those who seek to shape education to fit some political agenda that doesn’t have children’s learning at its core, but is an agenda designed to score political points.

      So I have a few suggestions, and you can do some searching for information on all of these to see if any fit with your own philosophy.

      My first piece of advice is to consider home schooling. There is a big network of home schoolers in Tasmania, so there’s no reason for your daughter to be socially or educationally isolated as some people claim about home schooled children.

      Failing that I would look for a small community school, or a Montessori or Steiner school, or even a school, especially as your little one is just starting out, that adopts the Reggio Emilia approach. These are sometimes considered ‘alternative’ and that turns some people off, but they all have child-centred philosophies and they are able to defend their varied approaches through research-based evidence.

      Not sure how helpful that is, but again, thanks for your comment. It was really lovely to see your name pop up on my blog.

      Sharon

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