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Teaching

Utterly Antithetical

Here’s a bit from this report by Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley:

In his new book on Finnish Educational Reform, Finland’s greatest educational expert and former World Bank specialist, Pasi Sahlberg, refers to this pervasive new Second Way strategy as the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) (Sahlberg, 2011). The GERM has five defining characteristics:

  • Standardized Teaching and Learning with “clear, high, centrally prescribed performance standards for all schools, teachers, and students”;
  • A focus on Literacy and Numeracy and basic skills in reading, writing, mathematics and natural sciences;
  • Teaching for Predetermined Results with predictable and uniform outcomes;
  • Renting Market-oriented Reform Ideas from other systems or sectors rather than devising one’s own solutions;
  • Test-Based Accountability linked to systems of inspection, punishment and reward;
  • Control through continuous monitoring of data

With colleagues Dean Fink, Ivor Goodson and others, one of us evaluated the impact of these reforms on a range of secondary schools in Ontario and New York
State (Hargreaves, 2003). We found the reforms were utterly antithetical to the knowledge society objectives of schools then being promoted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its associated goals of increasing innovation and creativity. – Hargreaves & Shirley, 2011

(Emphasis is mine.)

The whole report is well worth reading.

As I mentioned in response to Jana’s comment on another post, if governments and systems would simply stop embracing all the wrong ‘reforms’ so enthusiastically there’d be more hope. The prescription for the woes caused by these policies seems to be ‘more of the same’.

What do Hargreaves and Shirley think are the solutions? Guess you’ll have to read the report to find out!

1 reply on “Utterly Antithetical”

OK, you twisted my arm. This is not the ending, but it’s a comparison of Canada and Finland:

First, there’s obviously something special about Canada as a nation, or at least the more prosperous parts of it. Canada has some striking commonalities with Finland, the only non-Asian performer above it in the OECD rankings. … Both
countries value teachers and teaching and insist on a professional program of university-based training for all public school teachers. Working conditions are favorable with good facilities, acceptable pay, wide availability of professional development, and discretion for teachers to make their own professional judgments. Both countries have a strong commitment to public schools and only a very modest private sector in education. Both countries have strong social welfare and public health systems with broad safety nets to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of the population. Last, both nations are characterized by deeper cultures of cooperation and inclusiveness that actually make them more competitive internationally. It’s not this or that province’s recent policy that makes Canada such a strong educational performer, but a social fabric and long-term interconnected policy approach that values education and teachers, welcomes and integrates immigrants, prizes the public good, and doesn’t abandon the weak in its efforts to become economically stronger.

These are all advantages Australia shares… and all things that are being eroded by current policy settings and public discourse.

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