Guess what this is about?

While these flagship pieces of legislation relied on components of a capitalist market supply and demand model to produce innovation, they ultimately fostered a climate of toxic competitiveness and anxiety.

Yep, got it. School exams.

In the meantime, there are pedagogies that utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to solving human-centered problems with empathy—something our age cries out for. One of the most exciting is known as Design Thinking, and it has moved into educational spaces as a modern form of pedagogy that can build critical thinking skills organically, naturally capitalizing on the power of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Design Thinking challenges students to address problems in a creative, empathic, and cooperative manner. Along the way, they can develop the practical and intellectual skills to act effectively in a complex world.

There’s also the pedagogy of “democratic schools,” which give power to students in the form of self-directed learning and participation in school governance. This method prepares students for engagement in the democratic process, as adults, and is very different from the testing-focused culture perpetuated by NCLB, RTTT, and ESSA. Schools such as Summerhill in the U.K. have been operating as a democracy for over a century. In the U.S., the Sudbury Valley School, which took inspiration from Summerhill, was launched in 1968 in Framingham, MA. Others like it have followed.

In 2014-15, I experimented with both of these pedagogies and applied it in a community-based school setting. Students cultivated their gifts and talents, while learning about history, art, science, math, literature, social studies, and developing critical thinking.

Just don’t test anyone on any of that.

30 thoughts on “Guess what this is about?”

  1. these flagship pieces of legislation relied on components of a capitalist market supply and demand model to produce innovation

    I know what all those words mean, but don’t have the faintest why they have been arranged like that, however I suspect the author of the sentence quoted does not understand the meaning of many of the words he/she/ uses.

    Your kids would be better off in the hands of Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris than with these fuckers.

  2. Innovation cannot be produced, it is spontaneous. Someone has an idea how to use technology(ies), or adapt somebody else’s idea, in a way which they think people might like and buy. Free market capitalism provides the means to try it and either get rich or lose their shirt.

  3. Actually, old horse, the superficial topic is US schools, which means that the real topic is race – specifically the permanent problem that whatever experiment you make, African-American children do worse than white.

    Observe that to first order it’s only that dichotomy that matters. Chinese and Vietnamese, Hispanics and Hindus are scarcely worth considering.

  4. Fuck me – that’s among the largest servings of word-salad I’ve ever seen. An English translation might be helpful.

  5. Yes dearieme, I more or less read the Salon article and it pointed out how kids with horrid white skins did best.

    But of course school exams are far, far older than the US. I’m thinking of the Chinese bureaucracy, but I’m not sure they also didn’t exist in Roman times.

  6. bloke in china (spain province)

    I had to look up pedagogy. That’s 10 seconds I’ll never get back. It’s not as if I’ll ever find a reason to employ it. Although knowing to avoid anyone using it could be an advantage.

  7. There’s not that much to it. Without the objectivity of exams the most “likable” kids will score highest and the bright kid the teacher doesn’t like won’t do so well. When they come to get jobs it makes it easy for the employer: no longer do they need to choose between the one they like or the one with the best qualifications.

  8. MC

    ‘Your kids would be better off in the hands of Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris than with these fuckers.’

    I’m not sure whether laughing audibly out loud at that sentence reflects badly on me or whether it’s due to its unquestionable accuracy! Brilliant

  9. ‘Your kids would be better off in the hands of Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris than with these fuckers.’

    You might get a reasonable art and music education out of Rolf….

  10. It’s often interested me that UK and US Leftists appear absolutely determined, in education as in so many other spheres to achieve the worst of all possible worlds. I’d like to see the author try to persuade authorities in Cuba or North Korea that:

    ‘there are pedagogies that utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to solving human-centered problems with empathy—something our age cries out for. One of the most exciting is known as Design Thinking, and it has moved into educational spaces as a modern form of pedagogy that can build critical thinking skills organically, naturally capitalizing on the power of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Design Thinking challenges students to address problems in a creative, empathic, and cooperative manner. Along the way, they can develop the practical and intellectual skills to act effectively in a complex world.’

    And see if they’re buying. This melange of ultimately meaningless verbiage has the effect of creating the kind of morons that voted for Corbyn and Biden, and ultimately will lead its products to die of starvation once the Ponzi scheme collapses. As MC said,in terms of long term damage to a child’s welfare, you’d almost be better off handing your children over to a bunch of child molesters. Shocking stuff.

  11. At university one year I was short one course, so did a single semester of Education. Piagiet and stuff. The thing I remember most of the course was being told that most academic writing on child education was bollocks. Academics seem to forget what being a child was like, and project ideals instead of investigating realities.

  12. Most likely Rolf is innocent altogether and Stuart Hall guilty of being no more than a pincher of young womens –not little girls–backsides.

  13. In the meantime, there are pedagogies that utilize multi-disciplinary approaches to solving human-centered problems with empathy—something our age cries out for.

    Our age cries out for more helicopters and fewer parachutes.

  14. As today is Martin Luther King day in the US

    “If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”

  15. Academics seem to forget what being a child was like, and project ideals instead of investigating realities.

    It seems to be true of socialists in general that they try to force people to conform to their idea of how the universe should be, rather than how it is in reality.

  16. Exams were introduced to solve the problem of privilege. Before them the Old Tie network was dominant.

    A black ghetto kid called De’Von who aces his A levels can get into Oxford and then into whatever he wants. Without exams, he has no chance, because people will judge him on the only things they can judge him on — his parent’s poor choices.

    The think is, De’Von needs to go to Michaela in order to do this. It isn’t exams that bring him down, it is the poor schooling he gets at his local comprehensive who buy into progressive ideals of teaching.

    As so often, the Left want to destroy the one part of the system that is not discriminatory.

  17. Interestingly, both Lucien and Clement Freud went to Summerhill. Clement found it a frustrating experience in that he was unable to learn stuff he wanted to learn, but at least he experienced molestation at the hands of the staff. As for Lucien…. He learned how to ride

  18. Summerhill is from ages 6 to 18 and has well under 100 kids. For a system that is supposedly so much better than what the rest offer it is strikingly unpopular. You’d probably get that many if you set up a private school based on Satanism.

    I suspect highly motivated students with an interest in arts probably do well there. I doubt it would be much good if you fancied a decent education in anything much practical.

    It would be the endless meetings that would do my head in.

  19. The problem of exams is the same as the problem of any metric of performance: it acts in reverse and doesn’t necessarily create the desired outcomes. For example, in the programming world, if you try to judge productivity on ‘number of bugs corrected’, someone can just create more bugs to be corrected.

    Likewise, if exams are the final arbiter, then nothing that can’t (easily) be tested in exams will be taught – or only as secondary afterthoughts. So in languages, the accent will be put on writing and reading (because it’s easier to test that en masse), which will helpfully churn out thousands of children who are incapable of any useful communication in that language.

    Of course, in ‘hard’ subjects where there is ‘only one right answer’ (maths, physics etc.), exams are a pretty good fit. But the number of jobs where ‘there is only one right answer’ (and someone else already knows what it is) is becoming vanishingly small. And employers all over bemoan the absence of the ‘soft skills’ in their young employees: lack of initiative, responsibility, creativity, and general ‘oomph’. None of which you can really test in an exam. Teamwork, for example, is critical in most jobs – but as someone says above, it is ‘cheating’.

  20. ” Students cultivated their gifts and talents, while learning about history, art, science, math, literature, social studies, and developing critical thinking.”

    Without exams, how do we know if they’ve learned anything at all?

    p.s; if I’m driving in a car over a bridge, I want to know that the people who designed both have passed some pretty tough exams.

  21. “in languages, the accent will be put on writing and reading (because it’s easier to test that en masse), which will helpfully churn out thousands of children who are incapable of any useful communication in that language.”

    That’s what happened in my wife’s schooling – she passed French but can’t speak French. I, on the other hand, learned at school to speak French well enough to have been mistaken for a native speaker in a flea market in Paris. (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but indulge me – I am enormously proud of that accidental feat.)

    It may be that the explanation is just the difference between an English and a Scottish education. I note that the Scotnaz government seems to have buggered up the schools thus destroying the superiority they had enjoyed since the Reformation. Christ, they must be strangers to shame.

  22. dearie me.
    Me too.
    Chatting to some random frog in a bar, he said “Your accent, I can’t quite place it. Are you Swiss?”
    This made me enormously proud and I puffed out my chest like a randy pigeon.
    “Swiss German, of course” he added.
    The guy is still alive.

  23. . . . I want to know that the people who designed both have passed some pretty tough exams.

    There are people capable of passing tough exams who you wouldn’t want anywhere near designing bridges. Additional selection criteria required.

  24. Likewise, if exams are the final arbiter, then nothing that can’t (easily) be tested in exams will be taught – or only as secondary afterthoughts.

    That’s not a fault of exams. That is a fault of cheap exams. If you pay to test languages on a spoken component, then they will be tested.

    In NZ some of our language exams have spoken components by the way. Mostly the spoken bit is assessed internally, but it is still assessed.

    And employers all over bemoan the absence of the ‘soft skills’ in their young employees: lack of initiative, responsibility, creativity, and general ‘oomph’. None of which you can really test in an exam.

    Quite the reverse. Your test results are a mix of brains and hard work. They test who knuckles down and who doesn’t. Those whose brains work, and those who don’t.

    That’s what employers actually want in young staff. My first jobs did not require any initiative or responsibility at all. That comes with later jobs — but by then you are not relying on your exam results.

    And if I had started being “creative” in my first jobs, I would have been shown the door.

    Teamwork, for example, is critical in most jobs – but as someone says above, it is ‘cheating’.

    There is teamwork and teamwork. And people deliberately confuse the two in this issue.

    All my jobs involving “teamwork” involved people doing their own jobs, and then coming together at times to mesh the results. A good team was made up of people with strong inter-locking skills. You could have a good team made up of anti-social people (and many computing firms do).

    No-one works “as a team”, sharing the work, short of footballers. All the creativity, sociability and “team spirit” in the world doesn’t cover for incompetence at the basic skills.

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