The Three ‘R’s Are Passé…

Peter Wilby on PISA (no, not the leaning tower):

The triennial results from the Programme for International Assessment (Pisa), due on Tuesday but trailed in the Sunday press, have become education’s equivalent of the football World Cup. And the performance of the British teams is just as mediocre…

Relegation beckons, then?

So much for Tony Blair’s “education, education, education”, for it was under his regime that the 15-year-olds who took the latest tests in maths, science and reading in 2012 got most of their schooling. Michael Gove will take that as vindication of his policies, which involve transforming everything from curriculum to ownership of schools.

As well he might. It’s possible that they’ll be even worse, of course, but not likely.

As they say in sport, you can’t argue with the scoreboard. But in Pisa’s case, we can and should. There are ample reasons not only to question whether average scores from written tests can adequately assess the quality of school systems across the planet, but also to argue that international testing regimes pose a threat to national sovereignty and cultural diversity.

Funny. I don’t remember Peter ever running any columns defending ‘national sovereignty and cultural diversity’ when it came to the EU, did anyone else?

Behind the Pisa tests lies an ideology that accepts economic growth and competitiveness as the sole aims of schooling. The definition of educational success is being standardised and it is being narrowed.

Well, yes. What should we use education for, if not a tool for getting people gainfully employed?

By focusing on economic imperatives, schools risk losing sight of their roles in nurturing social solidarity, passing on cultural heritage and promoting civic engagement.

Oh. OK. Forget I asked…

Might justice, social harmony and a clean environment be just as important for our children’s future as economic prosperity?

Errr, no. Because without the economic prosperity, how are they going to be able to afford all of the rest?

1 comment for “The Three ‘R’s Are Passé…

  1. Ed P
    December 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Leaving aside Blair’s, “indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination” and PISA’s Common Purpose agenda, education does need to be more broad-based. Focussing solely on economic prosperity would produce unfulfilled drones: there needs to be emphasis on the Arts, history and leisure interests for a well-balanced & peaceful society. For example, the current obsession with climate has distorted teaching in most subjects; science in particular is now subservient to politics. But from this nadir I detect, through Gove’s and others’ efforts, impending improvements.

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