By Natalie Woods
By 2016, in many of the world’s most affluent societies, the utopian impulse had been extinguished. Utopianism was viewed as naïve, a relic of the past, affiliated with brutal, post war regimes. Cynicism was embedded deeply in education, where there had been a move away from idealistic visions of what it meant to be educated, or what it meant to pursue ‘the good life’, towards policies and practices that were grounded in a language of scientific certainty, and economic efficiency.
By Natalie Woods
Plato, Aristotle, and Rousseau associated the aims of education with beliefs about society, reason and emotion, and knowledge and freedom. Their treatment of these themes profoundly influenced ideals of the ‘educated person’ that emerged in the West during the 19th century. A review of literature published since the late 19th century revealed that these ideals generally fell into one of four broad categories: the rational individual; the worker; the explorer; and, the critical intellectual. Each vision made assumptions about society, human nature, knowledge, and freedom. This review outlines those visions, discusses the tensions between them, and analyses the influence they have had on contemporary educational thought and policy in New Zealand.
By Richard McCance
Most teachers around the world now are probably well aware of the threats from what Pasi Sahlberg has labeled “the GERM” (Finnish Lessons, 2012). However, while some of these threats are blatantly designed to shock the system and impose a new paradigm onto existing structures, others are more subtle and covert. High stakes accountability measures and the privatisation of public education are two obvious examples of the former. One of the more nuanced and often overlooked threats comes in the form of the language used to redefine or reshape the educational system towards particular goals or outcomes.
By Nathan Woods
Thinking taxonomies establish a hierarchy of thinking; ‘simple’ or ‘less -sophisticated’ thinking skills, such as describing, noticing, or remembering, are seen as inferior to ‘higher order’ thinking skills like analysis and evaluation. However, some popular taxonomies – such as Bloom’s Taxonomy – can over-simplify and misrepresent the nature of ‘higher order’ thinking.
BY BRENT SILBY
Alfie Kohn (2008) argues that techniques found in Progressive Education, such as problem-based learning, are superior to direct instruction. His argument is based upon research carried out primarily with children ranging from preschool to year 3 of primary (elementary) schooling.
BY BRENT SILBY
In his recent article “Advent of Google means we must rethink our approach to education”, Sugata Mitra argues that our education system needs to change. He suggests that the existence of modern technologies such as Google make the skills of the past obsolete. For Mitra, the only reason we continue to teach skills such as longhand multiplication is because we have some sort of romantic attachment to the past.
I worry that Mitra is downplaying the importance of the skills we teach in school. I’m also concerned that his views devalue knowledge. Mitra claims that:
“It took nature 100 million years to make the ape stand up and become Homo sapiens. It took us only 10,000 to make knowing obsolete” (Mitra 2013a)
In this series of posts I will break Mitra’s Guardian article down and offer a critical response to each of his points. Continue reading