Sunday, 5 April 2015

Predicting future behaviour in the curricula

I have condensed Jeannie Georges` talk in order to compare Common Core with Curriculum for Excellence.

Outcome Based Education (OBE)

It is difficult to understand the global push towards outcome based education until one understands that it is not what it claims to be. Outcome based education is a process, a way of doing something, in order to achieve the desired results. It has little to do with educational outcomes which traditionally have been based on knowledge and understanding.

Jeannie Georges says: " We are talking about limited learning for lifelong labour. Outcome based education uses learning in the sense that we learn to ride a bike, or we learn to bake a cake. It is about learning skills - lifelong labour skills."

Based on the work of two Russian psychologists, Alexander Luria and Lev Vygotsky (1934), the idea is to change behaviour by controlling the motivations, desires, wishes, and inclinations to behave. These predispositions, which can be measured, can then be used to predict future behaviour. For those who wish to control behaviour, it is important to get lots of psychological data to assess the outcomes, remediate, assess the outcomes, remediate. In place of learning, time is now the variable and learning is the constant. The student takes all the time they need to achieve the expected outcomes.

Behaviour modification

Because children enter school with beliefs and values they have learned at home, there is an emphasis on `cleaning the slate,` emptying the child`s mind before addressing their attitudes. Children are taught how to relax and clear their minds of their thoughts to achieve an altered state of consciousness. (mindfulness) In this way they become more receptive to unconscious processes, a skill they will carry into adulthood. 

Behaviour is modified by using rewards. It should be remembered that when families use rewards for good behaviour they are setting their children up to behave in a similar manner at school. Children will respond and produce the desired outcome in the classroom when they see the reward - it makes me feel good - instead of focussing on doing the right thing.

.Dumbing children down

Educators talk about controlled chaos in the classroom in place of sitting students in rows. Nothing close to learning can take place in that situation. Students are to navigate their own learning but that is not workable, not something they are going to do. They will be encouraged to assess their own learning along with that of their peers but none of that will happen because learning will be determined by businesses and students will be judged by their future employers. Putting students on computers means parents will never know what is being taught. 

Teachers will not see the entire process either - it will be spread about the curriculum - because it is only important that by the time students have advanced to a certain level, they have experienced the process. What happens in practice is that students leave high school with a diploma only to be remediated at college in the 3Rs  - which they pay for - but without mastery they cannot move forward.

Students are taught that words have no meaning; it is all relative, there are no absolutes. Parents are not told that the language is being dumbed down and that educators do not care if students learn to spell. After all, they can text their friends without using vowels. Writing is hardly taught at all. They certainly do not wish children to grow up to be able to read and criticise their research.

"Critical thinking is the dumbed down thinking, the politically correct thinking. It will make us good drones. "

Comparison with Curriculum for Excellence

CfE consists of a multitude of experiences and outcomes that children are expected to demonstrate using `I can do` statements such as `I can express my feelings.` `I can empathise with others.` It is skills based rather than fact based as explained below:
The title 'experiences and outcomes' recognises the importance of the quality and nature of the learning experience in developing attributes and capabilities and in achieving active engagement, motivation and depth of learning. An outcome represents what is to be achieved.
Transparency is not CfE`s strong point. But it can be seen that  attributes (dispositions) and capabilities (skills) are being developed in the curriculum. There is an emphasis on motivation and active learning. In fact, we are told that learning should be fun. So here is the reward system for children to demonstrate the CfE outcomes. That difficult subjects and hard work may provide a sense of achievement in the long run, but are not always fun, is not considered. In that sense they are being discouraged.
Meanwhile, formative assessment is very much part of the learning process according to CfE.
Assessment is an integral part of learning and teaching. It helps to provide a picture of a child's or young person's progress and achievements and to identify next steps in learning.
Assess - identify next steps. Assess - identify next steps. This is not far removed from assess the outcomes, remediate, assess the outcomes, remediate in Common Core.  Certainly the same kind of circular process is being established.

Children are encouraged to learn in groups (maximising distraction) and to do interdisciplinary work with each group working on a particular aspect of a topic, so nobody gets the `big picture` but everybody knows how to `google.` They are expected to navigate their own personalised learning, both inside and outside the classroom, assess their own learning and that of their peers, all of which is impossible for children who are not learning much at all. There is a sense of a great deal of activity but most of it useless.

Parents will find it difficult to know what their children are learning because there are no textbooks or other sources of information. Any visit to the website about Curriculum for Excellence will furnish them with oft repeated slogans without substance - a marketing strategy, nothing else.

We know that children`s personal data is gathered by way of the named person, surveys, classroom observations and assessments. SHANARRI wellbeing indicators provide the framework. For those who wish to control behaviour the more data, the better. Curriculum for Excellence provides plenty of that.

Political correctness is achieved in the curriculum through global citizenship, sustainable development, children`s rights and plenty of sex education - all varieties. Children are encouraged to take part in group discussions, (they must be listened to) but these discussions act to reinforce acceptable attitudes. Think how difficult it would be for any child to stand against their teacher and group to say: `I do not agree with that.`

Workforce training begins in primary schools.
All I can conclude is that CfE is another dumbed down curriculum for lifelong labour and that is what Outcome Based Education is about.
 Skills for Scotland : A lifelong skills strategy
"We need to continue to create an enterprising culture in our schools and make the link between the classroom and the workplace so young people see the relevance of their learning...The early years is the time when we can lay a solid foundation for skills: in compulsory education, we have the chance to encourage and influence attitudes to the importance of skills and the world of work."

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