Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘schooling

After reading Part 1 and Part 2 of Education Buzz Words, I distilled some of my favourite unfavourites.

In alphabetical order, my pet peeves of words and phrases used misleadingly with aplomb are:

  • 21CC (as if they are all unique and not timeless)
  • Best practices (when applied singularly and devoid of context)
  • Education (when you actually mean schooling)
  • Engagement (when this is not accompanied with empowerment)
  • Flipped classroom (when confused with flipped learning)
  • Gamification (when blindly combined or confused with game-based learning)
  • Learning (when confused with teaching, which learning is not)
  • Real world (when cited behind walled gardens)

We would do well to heed this warning from a teacher who said this in Part 1.

Teachers love buzzwords because they carry weight, but are we really understanding them? How about we become better at understanding and putting these words into practice rather than just repeating words to sound hip and cool.

The op piece in this tweet was an impassioned call to step up our efforts in inclusive schooling and education.

I take no issue with that call because we can only be better people for it.

I did notice, however, that you could substitute every instance of “inclusive education” or “special needs education” with almost any contentious issue in schooling — say technology integration — and the op piece would still make sense. Take this segment, for example:

… we still have a long way to go in embracing inclusion technology fully.

One of the key factors for inclusive technology integration in education is adaptation. The present landscape of special needs technology integration in education in Singapore is lacking in a customisable curriculum to meet the diverse needs of children with special needs.

I did not change the last two words (special needs) in my selection because every child is special in their own way. Technology can help express their uniqueness and latent abilities.

Reading the whole article more critically, you might discover that it says everything and nothing at the same time. Everything because it covers the issues broadly; nothing because it merely skims the surface. This is why we can play the word substitution game.

Viewed more broadly, the write-up might sound like a politician’s or policymaker’s script for a speech. It is a call to action, but it is so generic that is becomes impotent.

Word substitution is my way of determine the depth of thought of the written or spoken word. If one issue in schooling or education cannot be distinguished from another with the help of word substitution, its rallying call is but a whisper.

… or do as I do?

That was my reaction when I read this article in STonline about a local school restricting mobile gaming from 7am to 2pm.

Before I explain my reaction, I should point out that the newspaper article was a report of a report. There could be information loss from translation and there definitely was selective reporting of another report. That said, I have to work only with the information at hand.

Draconian measures by HCI on mobile gaming.

The crux of the matter is this: Students cannot use their own devices for mobile games right before school starts and during breaks.

Sometimes it is logical for students to be held to different standards. Other times it is not. For example, there are dress codes for students’ uniforms and their general appearances that teachers are not subject to.

Some would argue that the adults have matured to the point of understanding socially accepted standards of decency so that they know how to dress professionally.

If you believe that, you have not sampled enough adults. That is why we have dress codes everywhere, even at a beach.

So if standards and codes of conduct are the norm, what is wrong with a partial ban on mobile gaming?

Consider this: How would you like to be told that you cannot check your Facebook feed on your commute to work because you need to psyche yourself up for work?

Or how you like to be told that you cannot nap, gossip, or surf down rabbit holes during your lunch break?

Yes, both the students and teachers are at school and schools are walled gardens separate from the real world. So what happened to bringing the real world in?

Some teachers I know do not draw that line. I know adults who are just as guilty of walking distractedly or being overly engaged with their phones. What gives these adults the right to say “do as I say and not as I do?”

As for the adults who say “do as I say because I do not do what you do”, I ask: Just how real world is that? How (dis)connected are you?

This reflection has been brought to you by the medieval workshop of Draconian Measures.

Like it or not, this tweet can be interpreted more than one way.

Tweet about school.

It could mean that the school as a physical building literally houses and protects a future generation.

It could also mean that the school is a social structure that shapes the future. What the future looks like depends on the changes implemented now.

A third perspective is that the future — the students and what they do — is walled in by the past. If we are realistic, the implied optimism of the tweet needs to be balanced with this:

We might think of schooling as teaching the prior generation's knowledge so that youth are prepared to communicate on an equal footing with those they are about to join in the economic and civic spheres. -- Robert Pondiscio

The best way to start change is to identify what needs changing in the first place. This seems so obvious as to sound redundant, but you have probably seen how blind change initiatives can be.

So if we are to desire change in schools, we must know what is wrong with them. Here are two videos that outline some critical issues.


Video source

The video above highlights how most schools:

  • Are based on outdated Industrial Age values.
  • Do not promote student autonomy.
  • Perpetuate inauthentic learning.
  • Do not accommodate student passions.
  • Provide little or no room for individualisation.
  • Rely on lecturing.


Video source

The video above uses social conflict theory to explore social inequalities that school reinforce or perpetuate. While the video focuses on schools embedded in US systems, the principles apply to any system that claims to be based on meritocracy.

Both videos shed light on what areas need urgent change.

Both videos are also not perfect — both equate education with schooling. They could have drawn distinctions between the two terms because both seemed to desire movement away from schooling and progress towards education.

Schooling is about enculturation. Education is about self-actualisation.

Unlike Banksy, I do not think that the embedded graphic in his tweet is true.

The graphic is labelled “education”. What is depicted is traditional and mindless schooling. There is also the arguably necessary schooling of getting individuals to conform and to work together based on rules. Both are not the same as education. For one thing, education is about the development of the individual.

Schooling is about enculturation. Education is about self-actualisation.

Did you process the embedded image in the tweet above and laugh? You are probably part of the majority and get the joke about stereotypical mainstream schooling in Singapore. Read on.

Did you shrug your shoulders or go “meh”? You probably do not care or did not get the joke. Stop reading. Go away.

Did you see the plot holes and choose to plug them? I did and am doing this.

Real life is often funnier than fiction, so the image works. But it does not work all the time.

All schools here do not go full tilt during the first week. All parents do not send their kids for enrichment tuition. The rhetoric may be popular, but that does not make it right or truthful.

Kids in their first year of Primary or Secondary school often have orientation weeks or fortnights. After all, they are transitioning from one form of schooling to another.

They need to be prepared to be schooled. This means learning how not to ask questions and not to think imaginatively. So the last image of the child in pain is true, but the tag is not. It is painful to lose during schooling what employers will later demand.

My critique aside, it is also true that schools now focus more on non-academics like building character and integrating into communal culture. For example, my son has spent much of the first week outside of his school and the classroom to learn about the artwork in the CBD and to go kayaking with his teachers and peers.

A layperson who was schooled 10 to 15 years ago can create a tweet like the one above to draw laughs from others similarly schooled. While there is a little truth — take extra tuition, for example — that is more a function of kiasu parenting.

Only those in schooling and education can and should point out fallacies. I do so at the risk of sounding humourless and “not getting it”. I do get it; they do not. They need to be educated too.


http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: