#EDU8213 Answering the provocation

The purpose of the second session was to use SOLE methods to come up with a workable response to the provocation.   Could this be described as “crowd sourced knowledge”?  I use the word “workable” (as opposed to definitive) deliberately as there is no definitive answer to this question.   It would be fair to say that everyone in the room agreed that there is no single (or correct) answer to this.   The knowledge and skills that should be acquired by a 12 year old are very much dictated by the context and culture in which they live.

Breaking into smaller groups to discuss the provocation and develop a response to it allowed for a much more open and free flowing discussion and exchange of ideas that would have been possible by remaining as a single large group.   It also allowed for different avenues to be explored by each group, directions which depended partly on the experience in this field of the individual members of each group.   Everyone was recalling their own experiences of primary schooling and the things that they were expected to know by the age of 12.   No matter what the cultural background of individual group members, all members of my group (and, I think, of the members of the class of a whole) agreed that reading, writing and basic numeracy would be essential.   However, as Prof. Mitra pointed out, how do we know that reading and writing would not be made obsolete (or at least obsolescent) by advances in text recognition and speech software in the future?   The simple answer is that we don’t.   200 years ago literacy for the masses was regarded in some quarters as dangerous to the State and to be actively discouraged in case the proles got ideas above their stations.   Nowadays it is considered an essential skill.   The point that I am trying to make here is that, by definition, the future is unpredictable but we have to start from somewhere.

One area that technology can make a positive difference is in the area of assessment.   All groups were firmly of the opinion that the current high stakes testing regime favoured by just about every system in the world is broken and needs to be radically altered.   There was some talk of self-assessment and peer-assessment, both potentially problematic in terms of quality control and assurance but there should be no such problem with continuous assessment.   Allen Sunny in our group came up with the concept of “invisible continuous assessment” using technology to monitor activity and to store results thereby allowing for objectivity of assessment and hence validity.   This does, however, have enormous issues of privacy, data protection and the value of that data in the wrong hands – these are all issues that would need to be addressed and solutions found before such a scheme could get beyond the drawing board and into the real world.   And then there is the issue, as with all technology, what happens when it breaks………


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