Why are there continual problems in education? What if I said most of you have no right to comment…
My personal opinion is that it is the politicisation of education that is a big part of the problem. This is linked to and underpinned by different world views or ideologies. For example, one person may think life is a struggle that this is right and good, or at least insurmountable, and that there have to be winners and losers. Another may think that, if life is a struggle, we should all work together and help those who need it rather than leave them behind. Both these views also tie in with different politics such as conservatism or realism or liberalism or socialism. However, if I listen to everything someone in a blue world says, I’m only ever going to get blue. At the moment it seems that these ‘everything is a competition and that is good’, ‘to get the best we must allow some to be the worst’ and ‘out of friction comes gold ‘ views are in the ascendant. All we are getting is blue.
The problem with these ‘blue’ ideas, apart from probably not being true, is that it’s not the only way to get the goods. It’s also unfair and overly harsh on children as well as on schools and teachers; and as you say, it is creating a gulf between the winners and the losers. It’s actually hardwiring failure into the system because it assumes failure in the system. That doesn’t mean that I am offering the other side as the solution. What I’m arguing is that it’s the world view, any world view, which is the problem. We wouldn’t allow the situation that a government force doctors to amputate legs rather than give antibiotics because ‘life is hard’. But we do allow this sort of thing with education. I want to see the world where it is research and expertise that is the focus, not what people think. In this way (and many other ways) education has stayed firmly in the Victorian or pre-Victorian age. Everyone has a ‘valid’ opinion, everyone thinks they have a right to comment, point out problems or make changes they think is right; everyone thinks that education is a tool to be used. And it’s our fault too; we have let politics take over, we have acquiesced (for various reasons).
But I want more than just blue, I want the whole spectrum of reality. We have to bring it back to science and the professional judgement of educational experts (as long as they are also focussed on the truth rather than a world view). Why isn’t the idea that teachers, educationalists, are doctors of the mind just like a medical doctor is of the body. You wouldn’t dare tell your doctor (or at least I hope not!) that you had a better idea as to how to make yourself well again. You wouldn’t dare say, ‘life is hard doctor, give me the tough medicine please.’ You only ever say, give me what you think is best, that will make me well again. That’s what we need in education; to stop all these opinions, all these socially engineering inspired, or world view inspired opinions. I think then we will find the solutions. Above all, I think then we will stop hearing of so many problems just as we don’t focus on the problems of medical research; we just wait for the finished product in eager anticipation. We allow the scientific method to win out, not opinion. It’s worked for everything else we’ve made progress on in the last few hundred or so years, why do we reject it for education? Or rather, why do we allow for it to be rejected?
So yes, we need to take away the ability for people to even say ‘I think competition is the best way to get results’. We need to say, instead, ‘I know what the right thing to do is because I am an educationalist.’ We need to start defending education as a science rather than something a government or a trend has a right to meddle with. After all, what is more likely, that we will see solutions through research, hypothesis, experiment, expertise and so on (you know, the scientific method) or through musings of amateurs?