Friday, May 31, 2013

Those Who Can't Do Tell Teachers What to Do

While I do not always agree with Simon Schama's pronouncements, I feel strongly that everyone, regardless of nationality, should read Hannah Furness' account for the London Telegraph of his rant at the Hay Festival against the curriculum proposed for the British school system by Education Secretary Michael Gove. While many of Schama's barbs dig into a warped view of British nationalism, his strongest attack applies to any government body drinking the fashionable Kool-Aid flavored with the proposition that market-driven thinking reinforced with innovative technology will definite the future of education. Schama addressed an audience of teachers, describing Gove's plan to them as follows:
This is a document written by people who have never sat and taught 12-year-olds in a classroom. None of you should sign up to it until we trap Michael Gove in a classroom and tell him to get on with it.
Furthermore, this is far from an age-dependent issue. Schama is trying to maintain fundamental existential matters concerning the nature of education, matters that are taking a beating on every possible front, including universities, whose own brand of Kool-Aid has become the "massive online open courses" (MOOCs), recently surveyed for Reuters by Stephanie Simon. The only real market-driven thinking behind such projects is the recognition that there are big bucks to be made in dumbing down the population. The earlier the age at which this dumbing down can begin, the more bucks there are to make.

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