The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Friday, December 10, 2004

An interesting referral led me to this rather eloquent post about the state of education:
Education has some real problems. Just look at some of the personal education blogs that are floating around here and here. It is hard to imagine many other jobs where professionals work through such harsh conditions. And yet the difference between a successful classroom and a failing one is huge. As any teacher knows, classroom dynamics has a balance point that is tangible. As much as we may fool ourselves, there really isn’t any middle ground. There are only successful coping strategies, disguised as classroom management. And yet all the extra expectations that are thrown into the mix really only serve to water down the ability to break over the top. In military terms, education is suffering a division of force.

What education seems to be based on is reinforcement of weakness. More effort is spent on remediating efforts than on anything else. Obviously education doesn’t work if competency levels get spread too far. This, however, shouldn’t mean that success comes by preventing the spread of competency. And yet, I think this is precisely the (un?)intended consequence of education today. Let’s do things that look like they encourage diversity, but make sure that no spread in society occurs. Eventually intelligent people reach a point where the fundamental axioms of these methods get rejected. To my mind, this is where tribal tendencies start to occur.

The "goth" dogma as I call it seems to be what society really wants – an appearance of uniqueness with rebellion that never makes it out of the old status quo.
Once in a while don’t we eventually have to accept the fact that the evolution of some structures make them counterproductive to their original aims?"
Source: Mo Blo; Problems in Education
I wholeheartedly agree.

Yet ... I can't help thinking there are more variables. Assigned Seat is an American (?) beginning year teacher. Although I have ten years experience, I teach in the English education system, at an inner London state comprehensive school for performing arts.

Does one country ever really have much educational parallel on an international scale? I've swapped classes with colleagues in Bologna and Copenhagen, worked closely with colleagues from (largely) Nigeria and Australia, and I'd say: not at all.

Is the common thread of chaotic motion really comparable beyond such different contexts?