It’s been another busy week, and we’ve blogged about some heavy duty but crucial matters
And so, we ask ourselves, what’s the point of gathering all these documents together in one place and asking 3Di readers to give them some serious consideration?
We’ve asked 3Di readers to familiarise themselves with the way that education is seen and done in places like Finland, Japan, China, Singapore and Hong Kong. We’ve suggested we should all become aware of UNESCO’s statements on the rights of children. We’ve said the Cambridge Primary Review is an important report that needs to be read seriously and acted upon.
What is the point of it all?
The point is simply that we’re living in momentous times. Yesterday, on Radio 4, in the middle of a spiel about his budget, George Osborne stated that the government’s education reforms are the most important thing the government is doing. Baroness Morris of Yardley, a former secretary of state for education, has called for the government to lead “a genuine national debate about the future needs of all children in all schools”.
How clearly is our nation aware of the real developmental needs of children and young people – both present and future?
Our government is not about to lead any debate about the needs of all children and all schools. It’s already made up its mind what it wants to do about education in England. It’s now up to the public – we, the people – to become fully aware of the government’s intentions, and to consider them in the light of what other people, and other countries, believe children need by way of education and schooling.
The point is, none of this is rocket science. And we should all care very much about the future of education in this country – if we care at all about the future of our children and our grandchildren. Do we want them to be obedient little exam-passing automatons, or do we want them to be enthusiastic learners who can participate in setting their own learning agendas?
What’s more, do we want our teachers to be obedient and subservient automatons ‘delivering’ a curriculum and driving children towards exam success, or do we want them to be creative professionals capable of inspiring children to become fully evolved creative human beings who make good use of all their intelligences?
We have choices that need to be made, and we need those choices to be made on behalf of children and young people on the basis of proper knowledge and understanding about implications and alternatives.
The reason Britain’s (and America’s) financial system and economy catastrophically imploded was because of general ignorance about economics and finance. We didn’t understand what the ideological zealots who’d been indoctrinated by the Chicago School were doing by way of deregulation and the creation of toxic financial ‘products’. Therefore we let it all happen.
Except that in some countries this didn’t happen – because they actually understood what lay behind neo-liberal ‘globalisation’ and deregulation. Parts of Scandinavia and China stood apart and pursued their own economic pathways.
The same applies to education. We can either allow education to become ever-more privatised, competitive, exams-focused and regimented, or we can – if we understand what’s going on – say no to that direction of travel, as they call it.
The same thing applies to Britain’s National Health Service, of course. Deregulation, greater private sector involvement, profit-taking and a free-for-all. All in the name of efficiency, achievement of targets and ‘value for money’.
Meanwhile, we, the people, often feel bamboozled, confused and unable to give a proper opinion – unless we simply echo what we hear in the mass media and assume the government knows what it’s doing.
In any case, you may even be in favour of ‘driving up standards’ through management by objectives, payment by results, etc. You might agree with the government and its appointees that a great many professionals in health and education are “inept” and incompetent – mainly on the grounds of not achieving random targets.
All we’re saying is – please take some time to consider what’s happening, and what the alternatives might be. Because there are alternatives. It doesn’t have to be like it is, or like the powers that be, acting in our name, want it to become.
And we have to do this for the children, because they can’t do it for themselves. According to United Nations statistics we have, in places like Britain and America, some of the unhappiest and most stressed children in the world. It doesn’t have to be this way. Other countries manage to arrange things so that young people can have a brilliant education AND enjoy their school experiences, and their lives generally.
Do we care enough about our own children to want to change things for the better? Then we need to start listening to what other countries, and what our own enlightened educators, are telling us. And if that means we need to read a few reports and documents – so be it. The alternative is that there is NO alternative to whatever unhelpful ‘solutions’ are put forward by people pushing their own ideological programmes.
Either we let enlightened professionals determine the direction of education, or we don’t. How do we know if they’re enlightened or not? Read what they say. Look at the evidence. Compare it with what the ideologues are saying. And then make up your minds.
Thank you for reading 3Di’s blog. Please let us know what you think. And please ask your friends to start reading about, and caring about, education and young people. Let’s have a proper conversation with one another, and let’s have a proper national and maybe a global debate.