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Education needs to be pulled into the 21st century

Short rant. Articles like – Education needs to be pulled into the 21st century – cause many educators to smile and nod in agreement. The report broadly splashes all the latest and coolest terms that cause sensible educators to viciously agree: “In an increasingly complex and competitive world, teachers must understand technology and connect coursework to the global economy, curricula should eliminate less relevant material and incorporate modern skills such as global awareness, technology and media literacy, and standardized tests must include these new subjects”.
Ok. That’s very nice. We are then treated with the typical mis-focused comment: “I hope to encourage policymakers to better equip our graduates for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs”. Education isn’t only about creating employees. It’s about assisting individuals to develop into the types of people that can tackle and handle the continual gyrations of a complex world. I don’t buy into the “education must prepare people for jobs that don’t yet exist” view. Education – as it always has – must prepare people for an unknown future. This isn’t new. When I was going to school, the particular job that I have today did not exist. How should we prepare people for, let’s say, the current financial crisis? By training people to be stockbrokers? No. You can’t prepare people for black swans. People must be capable of handling uncertainty, but also adapting as environments shift and change. At it’s most basic, education must move from epistemology to ontology. Getting back to the report: give us something useful. Statements as broad as those provided in the article (i.e. “develop new programs, standards, partnerships and assessment measures”) are hardly a basis for action. Perhaps it’s time that we stop focusing on what our curriculum is and start focusing on how we actually do curriculum in the first place.

3 Comments

  1. Curriculum Development? It’s a black art practised by those who have mastered its secrets and is not for the uninitiated to even attempt. There are no first principles in curriculum development, so the officially sanctioned curriculum can never be criticized. A “virtuous” circle.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 7:47 pm | Permalink
  2. Rodd Lucier wrote:

    Before we insist that educators change how they teach in classrooms, we need to engage educators in continued professional learning, using tools similar to those they might later introduce to students.

    Knowing that the strategies we employ in the classroom are directly linked to prescribed assessment practices, my hope is that educators will discover the need to change, by seeing value in their own connected learning.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008 at 9:20 pm | Permalink
  3. I agree with all of the above. I mean, it’s not a matter of education. I believe that the world goes too fast and it’s hard to catch up at times. people learn their jobs working and having real experiences in the “battlefield”, education is just a mere basis, not very stable either, sometimes. what we learn is often irrelevant to what we are going to be. Because, let’s say it, we don’t really know what we want to do when we’re at school, do we?
    and even if we do what we want to become, it’s likely that we change our mind and we find ourselves doing something totally different…
    I just think that we will build our skills and perfectionate them anyway, so let’s just stop giving a hardtime to teachers…
    Comment from http://www.aabtraining.co.uk/aid.htm
    First aid training courses for appointed person and first aid at work is now being run across the uk to aid companies with compliance issues.

    Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 6:44 am | Permalink