The tipping point for this post comes from tonight’s episode of Insight (SBS Television) titled “Worst and Best Schools”. I provide the link and let you decide on the value of punditry (and some valuable insights, to be fair) on display.
The inspiration for the list below is (ret) Judge Dennis Chaleen’s 8-point reflection on the effects of imprisonment (some uncanny similarities there with schooling). In a few brief points, he sums up society’s addiction to prison and reasons for lack of change in our views and practices. I’ll try to follow his ascerbic style.
I am no retired judge, only a classroom teacher of nearly a decade in mainstream schooling … but here is my list of the baffling inconsistencies:
* We want STUDENTS to have self-worth, so we care most about the winners.
* We want them to be responsible, so we make tests the most important things in their life.
* We want them to take control of their lives and own their problems, so we spoonfeed them with correct answers.
* We want them to be prepared for the future, so we teach like 200 years ago.
* We want them to be non-violent, so we blame.
* We want them to learn new things, so we discard educational research.
* We want them to listen, so we don’t give them a real voice.
* We want them to be trustworthy, so we trace their every move.
* We want them to be independent, critical, imaginative thinkers, so we measure (mostly ) recall.
* We want them to stop hanging around ‘losers’, so we ‘stream’ all the ‘losers’ in one place.
* We want them to be kind and loving people, so we promote zero-sum competition.
* We want them to be a part of community, so we block and control them becoming a community.
* We want to educate the whole person, so we test academic skills.
* We want them to learn, so we equate it with the “necessary pain of work ‘in the real world’ “.
* We want to prepare them for the ‘real world’, so we ban some the most common means of communication in it.
What about the teachers? A couple of quick ones…
* We want teachers to lead, so we tell them to follow.
* We want teachers to teach deep and with passion, so we give them a strict syllabus and a deadline to follow.
Is this what we REALLY want?