An interesting afternoon – certainly challenging, and not just because of the new technology! Of course, for many people, using twitter is second nature but, as with all new things in our lives, using it for the first time presents numerous challenges. Personally, I found the use of twitter as a platform slowed down the interchange of ideas and opinions – there was just too much going on and, being a new user, even just reading other peoples tweets meant that many were left unread. Surely there must be a better platform for interaction? Certainly the idea of there being many more people in the conversation than were in the room must improve the conversation but only if the conversation can actually take place.
The provocation itself was interesting, stimulating and intellectually challenging as was the discussion. I think it hinges on the definitions of education, learning and schooling; recognising the differences and similarities and deciding which is the most important (which may well be different things to different people). What does a 12 year old need to know? Whatever the society in which s/he lives decides that s/he needs to know. Society is now too complex for all members of it to have an equal part in such decisions – the logistics alone are too mind-blowing. In most Western “democracies” citizens have handed that responsibility to a small number of individuals whom we choose to call politicians in the expectation that they will act in the best interests of the people. Unfortunately, the vast majority of politicians act in their own best interests or, at best, in the best interests of whichever political party they have signed up to in order to get themselves elected. Education is used as a political weapon rather than as a means of ensuring the development of an intelligent, informed and critical populous who have the confidence to challenge the political elite. It is in the best interests of the political elite to ensure that the “education” of the masses is sufficient to enable them to take a constructive role in the economic life of the state but insufficient for them to challenge that elite.
Assessment is simply the method of deciding whether the recipient of the delivered “knowledge” has “learned” what is required of them and can therefore move forward to the next stage in the process. The current system of assessment has developed into a series of high stakes examinations where success is measured in terms of points scored in standardized settings (exams) marked by standardized markers. School has ceased to be about the joy of exploring this world and more about retaining and regurgitating a set of pre-approved “facts” (the curriculum) that students have been told they need to know. I doubt that anyone involved in education would disagree that there must be a better way but no one, as yet, appears to have found it. Like democracy, it is the worst system, apart from all the other ones.