Claire Harvey talks about assessment in Curriculum for Excellence; both formative assessment in the broad general education, that is, assessment for learning and deciding those important `next steps` on the journey to excellence; and summative assessment in the senior phase which moves 14 and 15 year olds towards qualifications.
The problem being discussed is how to ensure that standards of formative assessment are the same across Scotland so that pupils are treated fairly. In a curriculum devoid of much content there are many grey areas.
As if asking children to demonstrate SHANARRI wellbeing was not a questionable enough activity as it is, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) opened a discussion about how they might also assess and acknowledge character, and why this might be important.
The topic was raised at the recent conference `Character, Culture and Values` at Glasgow University where 200 delegates explored the "continuing global shift towards character and values in education, the first event of its kind in Scotland".
Whose idea of character and whose values we might ask? A glance at the glossy website and the John Templeton Foundation which helped fund the conference provides part of the answer, as do other topics on the agenda: ‘Learning to be Human’ which explored "John MacMurray’s philosophical and educational ideas" and ‘Skills, Work & Enterprise’ which discussed the "role of attributes and attitudes in aiding young peoples’ transitions into employment and enterprise."
GIRFEC: the journey from birth to the world of work is at the heart of Curriculum for Excellence; it is not a journey that is going to be left to chance.
The sensible thing for a government to do when it wishes to transform society by way of education is to create a moral panic to justify its interference.
The arguments used for involving schools in explicit moral instruction have enormous social and political significance. The Introduction to Character Education in America’s Schools asks the rhetorical question "Why Educate for Character?" The answer reveals a dim view of contemporary American social life: "Because many homes do not". The authors briefly identify the home as "a big part of the problem" and they list some statistics - half of all children live in nontraditional families, including single parent homes and blended families. The claim is made that "statistics link the decline of the traditional nuclear family with rising teen pregnancy, school drop-outs, divorce rates, unemployment, poverty, and just about every other ill in our society"
In Scotland the panic is being built around the education attainment gap between those social groups who perform best and least, but the culprits are the same, the poor and disadvantaged. Education will teach everyone their place; it always has.
The problem is that there are not enough high quality jobs for young people and the situation is going to get worse but in order to survive governments must somehow change the narrative. The story becomes: education must be transformed so that learners develop 21st century skills; team work, creativity, empathy, problem solving abilities, higher order thinking skills. This is to prepare young people for the knowledge based economy.
But the reality is that "if the twentieth century brought mechanical Taylorism, characterised by the Fordist production line, where the knowledge of craft workers was captured, codified and re-engineered in the shape of the moving assembly line by management, the twenty-first century is the age of digital Taylorism." There is evidence that knowledge work is being translated into working knowledge, codified, digitised into software prescripts and packages that can be " transmitted and manipulated by others regardless of location."
Highly skilled workers in Europe will have to compete with highly skilled workers in places like India and China and there are many more of them there who will work for less wages." If ‘permission to think’ is limited to a relatively small proportion of the European workforce, this raises fundamental issues about the role and content of mass higher education."
Wellbeing, global citizenship, mindfulness, resilience, character, surveillance, the outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence.
It looks like the population is going to be put to sleep !