Recently a close friend of mine and his son had yet another bitter experience with the Amairkuhn edgykayshun system. It's an experience I hear over an over from teachers and sometimes even students who take the time to write me about their latest nightmarish encounter with "the system", and with the corporate hacks and politicians and edubabblers - the endless list of "facilitators"(read, comissars) - who pimp it. After hours and hours of preparation to take a "science" test and answers questions in one way, one is subjected to a standardized computerized test in which one has to select from pre-selected answers, do so within a limited time frame, and without opportunity to explain one's answer to a teacher who can evaluate it.
This "march of mediocrity" through the educational system has been going on since the Educational Testing (Dis)Service was a gleam in James Bryant Conant's and Henry Chauncey's jaudiced progressivist social-engineering eyes. In its latest incarnation, at least in America, we have the Common Core standards and its "adaptive assessment" process, being pushed by the likes of the Gates Foundation and by educational testing corporations. The American obsession with technological applications and solutions to everything manifested itself most recently when someone sent me an article about scientists who were developing a robot to read and teach reading to children. Exit the human contact; enter the technologically inspired mediocrity. Consider, for example, this article, shared by said friend:
In my many "rants" about Amarikuhn edgykayshun, one of the trends I have lamented is the fact that these methods have been exported from this country to others: Canada, Australia, Britain, and other countries in Europe. The results have been the same there. I even included recently as one of my "tidbits" the response of a British school master to an invitation from a politician inviting himself to the headmaster's school: the headmaster responded with a firm, but polite, "no thank you; we teachers are tired of being political footballs for every zany trendy claptrap of educational blither coming out of the corporations and politicans bought off by them." Well, the headmaster didn't say it quite that way, but that was the gist of his response. And I suspect he spoke not just for teachers in the United Kingdom, but Canada, Australia, and most importantly, for teachers in America, who've all but lost any real input or voice, except for the many "teacher drones" cloned by the certification and "educational collages" themselves, who are essentially clueless, mindless, and lazy, and who go along to get along. The real teachers, who put up with that process simply so that they could teach, are the real heros of the system, but they are a dying breed, or rather, a breed being deliberately ostracized and and pushed out of the system.
So herewith the point of my edykayshunal rant of the day: it's time - high time - for principals, teachers, administrators, to start shunning these people, the corporate representatives from Pearson, Gates, the ETS, the local politician "concerned" about education, the Doctors of Edgykayshun with their lunatic studies and latest "methodology." But more importantly, it's time to make it a geopolitical issue; after all, the progressivists have been "educating for world citizenship" by their own admission since at least the 1930s. But two can, and should play, that game.
We've watched a growing worldwide revolt to the American-inspired GMO mercentilism: Europe is almost in full revolt against GMOS (though, it should be noted, another issue looms: will they ban GMO feeding of livestock?); Russia has banned them completely, and significant revolts are underway in several Indian states against GMOs.
With that tought in mind, maybe it's time for those countries to make the spread of American-corporatized "methods" of education and testing a geopolitical issue as well, pointing out its manifest and systemic failures, the creation of a priviledged (and largely anonymous) set of experts who program and write the questions, the lack of real teacher-human interaction, and so on. One can think of this not as "GMO geopolitics" but as "Standardized testing and Common Core geopolitics." You(America) can go on destroying your educational system by such nonsense, but we will have none of it here." Maybe its time for those countries to point out the failures of the American system in this respect as well, and to question the very foundation and premises on which it has been erected and the attempt to spread it to the rest of the world.
See you on the flip side...