Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Standing out

This was part of a spam e-mail I got about Optimising HE Curriculum Design
Last year, Sir Michael Barber, the Chief Education Advisor to the world's biggest education firm, Pearson, claimed that Universities must, "mark themselves out of the crowd or risk an avalanche of change sweeping them away."
This actually is a statement about the problem and not the solution. Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Palgrave-Macmillan and the others are all trying to get as much as they can of the multi-billion pound education business. What they want to sell all are complete educational packages of textbooks and content that will all be assessed using their examination boards. Then you will go on to Higher Education and study for a Pearson or McGraw-Hill degree from the University of X or Y as accredited by the publisher. We will end up with cloned students who become cloned graduates. It will be a statisticians dream. All of those norm measured exams, all those nice symmetrical distributions. Governments will love it especially education ministers talking about standards and fairness and how everyone gets the same opportunity. But it will be terrible. It will be an abomination.

Why would we want to train these robots? That is not an education. What can the world do with all of these homogeneous graduates who excel at doing exams and cannot tie their own shoelaces? Where are the real skills? Where is the questioning, the rebellion, the life of a student just finding things out? The world would be a much poorer place if we let them do this. So Sir Michael is right, there is a warning that we need to be progressive and to stand out. But that means standing against the academic publishing behemoths to create an education that is built for purpose and not for profit.

No comments: