When does a person go from seeing the world as their subject to seeing the world as an object.

The distinction between the maturing with matured mind.

Thought foundation:

All students (14 years old) are asked whether it was fair that the 62 richest people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest 50%.

All students said it was fair because, every person is born with opportunities. It was implied that the expectations are that these opportunities are equal. However, it was individuals who decided not to take them. So what could this mean?

In a very real initial sense, the world is because we say it is. Therefore a child’s idea is partly based on their ability to define objects within their reality. For example, the fact presented earlier is defined by the individuals ability to make sense of it, using their current methods of sensibility. Consequently, the world makes sense because we’ve made it make sense.

The mature mind is one which accounts for the objective world, to some degree humanistic understanding is removed. Where once we understood using simple subjective thoughts we now prefer objective descriptions of the world, what is actually causing what I see. Therefore the world is no  longer defined by ones self but as a set of interleaving constructs through which we try to understand, but not by relating personal experience.

There will be a point in every individuals life where seeing the world as their subject to seeing it as a object will happen. For example, realising the 62 wealthiest people probably didn’t come from a poor community, taking every opportunity to be successful. 

We intervene by not involving students in understanding inequality, because we perceive their ability to understand as being non-wise. However, just because a person’s understanding of the world when they were young might have been, “incorrect”, why is the opportunity to re-evaluate using their objective brain not offered to all? To what value is adult education?

What do we do?

The Scare Tactic: Motivating students for exams.

 

“At the moment you’re not working hard enough to get to where you want to go once you finish here!”

For many, myself included, the line above was frequently delivered by teachers at school as a source of motivation to propel students on to achieve their full potential. However, did this open up an unchartered capacity for success, or did this resulted in unexpected anxiety and stress. For myself, it was the latter and usually denial as well. But, as a teacher, what messages should I relay to my students around exam time?

Fear Appeals – framing a question or statement to students allowing them to see what they could possibly lose, miss or never attain. Make the message of education personal.

Where do we go from here? 

Student decides whether what is going to be lost is of personal interest to them. If yes or no, then corrective action can be taken.

What next, teacher’s input. Two options:

Challenge Appraisal – Framing questions and comments from a positive challenge based perspective. For example, I’ll be impressed if someone achieves 80% or over, if not then it’s up to you whether you resit or not and you can only do you best, remind me what that is…

Threat Appraisal  – A way of motivating students to work for a desired goal, based upon threat alone. For example, you must achieve 80% or over if you don’t then you’ll resit and (focusing on the negative) you’re predicted a B, I think you’ll get a C.

Outcomes:

Challenge Appraisal – Students show better academic self efficacy post challenge based motivation and better results. Not only this, but it is suggested that students continue to perform better, with better self efficacy as well as increased enjoyment and engagement within the subject area.

Threat Appraisal – Students initially have better academic attainment, however  academic self efficacy can be reduced with traits of denial and over compensation. So when future assessments come around, students are less likely to engage academically and are likely to underperform through fear that anxieties surrounding the assessments becoming true when they try their best. For example, if I try and do not succeed, then this will confirm that I am a failure.

A couple of interesting and small ideas any teacher should always consider when communicating the smallest ideas or dreams.

Blog a digest of for teachers to use immediately: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/scare-tactic-does-it-work-motivating-students-test-and-examinations

 

 

 

Discarding the idea of education as transmission, brief thoughts.

Wednesday evening, Philosophy of Education discussion.

The dominant power in a society ultimately wields the arms of education in both its delivery and curriculum which it provides. Institutional power structures have been seen throughout the historical context, stretching from the churches influence through to modern day neo-liberal structures. In all cases the institutional power has been gained and lost, but a recurrent theme is the significant rigidity and structure which these institutions force upon education. The significant structure and enforced frame work results in high levels of transmission which are doctoral and encourage the absence of alternative or belief based thoughts of an individual. 

If these power structures have continually existed and based on the historical context will continue todo so, how can we ensure that our education is more morally conscious and one which engages a learner and their own belief system to rationalise what they are being taught. The author discusses opportunities of conversational engagement with the curriculum topic to judge, infer and determine what is thought. However, the neoliberal system values set types of educational knowledge and therefore ultimately success is delivered to those who most readily dispel their own beliefs to adhere to those transmitted by the system. To solve this problem of the institution only valuing set forms of knowledge and learning, teachers should be responsible for the appropriate, morale delivery of information. A practitioner should be professionalised and empowered to engage student belief systems in determining whether set  delivered information is of value to them.

Professionalising teachers is important, engagement in the moral discussion of knowledge with students is important, but having a defined curriculum means that teachers must engage in the transmission of knowledge. Professional teachers, who are trusted and engage learners deeply in educational knowledge is demeaned by over accountability of one defined successful form of formal education (yes engage in these conversations, but they are fundamentally meaningless). A defined curriculum, means that transmission of formal knowledge engagement can superficially include morale discussion, but ultimately success is only accomplished when their is direct transmission. Consequently, all aspects of formal education only involve direct transmission, morale engagement by a practitioner can only remain superficial (optional) if success is in the current system is to be support. 

So the questions are, who defines the curriculum? Who defines success? Why are people beliefs, values and morale approaches ultimately disengaged with when trying to deepen the importance of educational engagement. Does this mean teaching out side of the doctrine is a waste of time because ultimately it will have a net negative effective on the outcomes for students?

Neo-liberalism in the workplace – A thought

“Market rhetoric logic is that teachers are treated like education units and as a result they are performing as such and not an involved and committed professional.”

Innovation, creativity, professionalism and pride have all been tainted by the misunderstood nature of “market rhetoric” or neo-liberal reforms. Gaining gravitase in the 1950s through the world over for its “innovative” influences within the market place, it was therefore logically assumed that neo-liberalism was the cure needed for all aspects of the human condition that rendered a system ineffective.

The Human Condition:

  • Variability
  • Multi-faceted
  • Unpredictable
  • Loving
  • Passionate
  • Pride

Cure:

  • Remove variability
  • Remove external factors
  • Remove unpredictability
  • Remove love
  • Remove Passion
  • Remove Pride

Why? A system which runs on factors that can not be appropriately quantified and controlled can be assumed to be having a negative or inconsequential effect on what is considered desirable learning. The demand for absolute control and no professionalism makes 100% sure that maximum learning is occurring every second. To do this we need to remove all variables from both teacher and student.

It almost sounds like a segment from Orwell’s animal farm, “Let’s face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short.” (Will this be the final punch line in the staff room?)

Order, control, obedience, ranking, systematised and quiet (This sounds like an exciting place)

Order, control, obedience, ranking, systematised and quiet (This sounds like an exciting place)

No, this isn’t an abandoned factory from the now long forgotten industrial era in the UK, but actually a collection of adjectives to describe an Ofsted accredited outstanding school in a nearby local area. So, why was I led to his school? I was invited by the assisted head teacher, following a long debate on how appropriate it was to rank all students in each year from 1 to 180. For someone who is more focused on developing the individual, this seemed highly counterproductive and quite frankly dangerous for the psychological health of students.

Very quickly after discussing with students the impact of the ranking system it was quick and easy to discover that this method fostered peer pressure, stress and social dysmorphia – however, results were higher (so that’s all that matters, right?). After dodging many of my questions on how students were supported through this, I was guided around the college, through an assessment PowerPoint and into classrooms to observe.  It was good to hear (irony) that all lessons in science were uniform, with all activities, assessments, homework’s and teachers – all uniform (actually this does sound like a functioning 19th century factory – is that what education really is?). All in all, there is a sacrifice that has to be made to achieving outstanding Ofsted and exam result. What we idealise to what we consider as realistic. 

What did I take away?

There was a clear contrast between new innovative pedagogy and innovative, neoliberal pedagogy (Other school). How do they contrast? The latter is highly business orientated and focuses on improving processes and deliverance of an already determine model (“I talk, you learn”) – not changing but increasing transference by reducing deficiencies. The prior refers to developing new methods of pedagogy that engage and entice all agents in education to genuinely address the requirements of every person (both students and teacher): to be an individual; to understand the ramifications of your knowledge beyond the exam result;  to hold a vision and to never stop changing – because the world doesn’t.

I feel like a professional teacher. What does that mean? I can only really define this anecdotally as opposed to offering a defined definition and I think this is because teaching is a deeply personal profession and trying to define a professional role on to a person doesn’t and can’t work. Back to the anecdote, I am able to immediately respond to the needs of the learners; drop an entire lesson plan because it no longer suits; teach without a power point and continually make mistakes. So I ask you, what is your philosophy of education? How would you define yourself as a teacher? I guarantee you that it won’t be the same as mine.

ResearchEd review of presentations

Praxis – a new platform to promote professional development through research inquiry.
Chris Brown A teacher of Science as well as an academic research at Cambridge University
 
Speaker discusses a possible mechanism for enhancing teacher led researcher into the classroom. The website Praxis has been developed to act as a forum for teacher research to be shared across a wider field as well as facilitating access and engagement in the praxis reflective cycle.
 
My Thoughts – What is being suggested is anecdotal and highly subjective due to large discrepancy on how individual research is conduct and reviewed. Therefore, work is valueless as no institutions will accredit or validate findings. Teachers do not feel valued when completing this kind of research. We need close, working, academic relationships with educational researchers. 
 
Chain effects? Impacts of academy chains on performance of disadvantaged students. 
Becky Francis, educational and statistical researcher at kings college.
 
A systematic review of academy chains from 2012 to 2015, measuring impact on disadvantaged pupils relative to peers in  mainstream schools. Conclusion, in general more academy chains are having a negative effect on the progress of their students in comparison to mainstream (LEA led schools). How did this situation arise? Many academy chains were allowed to expand far too quickly on unjustified evidence. Why was this permitted? London chains, improved returns for pupils, therefore policy makers assumed that this would also be reflect for the rest of the UK. What happened? Policy makers did not anticipate the huge variation of context across the country.
 
My Thoughts – Concerning trend of acting too early due to the short time frames between the electoral period. The damage of these reforms is likely to exacerbate the educational inequality within communities as resources and students can no longer be evenly distributed. We need a context driven approach where teachers and schools let other know what they need.
 
Flip the system 
Rene Kneyber, teacher, policy consultant, academic researcher and author (He says, all teachers should have these options)
 
A theoretical and philosophical discussion about how our educational system should be structure. Speaker opens by showing a the EduPolitical system where all information, how to teach, learn and manage schools is all disseminated from the top. This results in the de-professionalisation of the teachers as they have no freedom or mobility to explore their role. Therefore, in general returns for students are poor. Rene suggests that ,like Holland, the UK needs an educational system that is informed by those people stood at the chalk board who understand the context. When they ask or identify weakness, leaders then respond and government does what it can to support them. Subsequently, bring professionalism back to profession and empowering all teachers to take ownership of their own profession because what they do has real value.
 
My Thoughts – An inspiring speaker who made the point very clear. If education is so subjective and context specific, what we need is information directly from the chalk board. So, why are there no teachers currently in the whitehall to inform policy? I feel a bit tired of listening to the continual changes to the educational system which come from political ideologies as opposed to what is need in the class.
 
Using behavioural insights to improve education 
Raj Chande, researcher at PhD students for the behaviour team.
 
Research identifies how small changes in the patterns of behaviour can result in huge returns. The behaviour teacher have recently focused on sending a text home to parents when there child has an assessment coming up a week later. They found that simply sending a text home to parents saw performance increase by 10-20%. So, simply texting parents to let them know there son or daughter has an assessment costing £2 saw progress accelerate by 2 months, with greater returns for low ability students. 
 
My Thoughts – Very inspirational speaker who showed the power of changing the small things. The investment required per pupil to receive the level of gains that were being made was very impressive. I am dubious as to who is going to take the administrative role of the whole process. 
 
The five big policy changes for the new government 
Sam Freedman, Senior advisor to Michael Gove and Executive director at Teach First.
 
  • Resources: £3 Billion cuts to schools funding over 5 years. LEAs will disappear, early years and 16-19 interventions squeezed the hardest and will most likely disappear.
  • Infrastructure: More regional school commissioners – targets more academies and chains, lift coasting schools, not sure on other roles yet. Results so far suggest that they have had a poor impact.
  • Teacher supply: Teacher shortage, falling grad numbers, weak wages in education push potential teachers elsewhere. Crude incentives system which does’t support recruitment or retention. Student loans for PGCE is wasted money, all training should be free.
  • Leadership: 50% of heads will retire in the next 10 years. No good training provided to train people to become outstanding heads.
  • Expertise: Lack of quality professional development, teaching has suffered massive de-professionalisation. Lack of management training means people squeeze rather than effective manage makes working conditions worse. 
My Thoughts – High expectations, no resources; a dwindling recruitment field which lacks the ability to produce future leaders. Not great, expect to be squeezed as 25% of the education budget is being wiped away! Every school will feel this. 

How does the sole focus on outcome measures affect our students?

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Who we are, what we do and how we behave is exclusively determined by the way which we are nurtured into world. Most of us have, at one point, studied Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. With most being involved in the debate, “nature vs nurture.” For all, including myself, this was one of the first concepts of the reason I am who I am because of the way I was raised. So who decides who I am and how I think? Do my parents have free and conscious choice over the decision they make when raising me? Or is that already predetermined?

So where do we begin when deciding? The best place is to start is by defining what education is and the outcomes we want from it? As a teacher I’m not even aware of what we want, as a society, for young individual. When I think of a good education for students educational performance springs to mind. For example 5 A*-Cs, number of A-levels, degree above a 2.1. No educational establishment is monitored for the type of students it is developing. Why not? Mainly due to difficulty (Labb & Loeb: 2010).

Some definitions of philosophical outcomes of education:

  • “An adequate education may be conceived of as one that is sufficient for someone to participate fully in both the economic and political life of a country” (Ladd & Lobe: 2010)
  • “Humans have an ability to praxis, [a process of conscious engagement and reflection on the application of knowledge to problems.]” (Freire, 2013).
  • Students have a desire for life long learning.
  • Possibly, students achieve at least 5 A*-C’s GCSE’s including maths and english.

In reality most people would like to hear that our students are receiving a diverse, culturally enriching education that prepares every individual for future success, but I think that most know this isn’t the case. I say this last one light heartedly, because this is an outcome measure not an ideology – I don’t think anyone sees having 5 A*-C inc M&E grades defining them as a person. However, the gravitas this measure has over the education of our students means that it might as well be an ideology.

This measure was originally introduced into the classroom to summarise what a pupil new academically and then translate this into a future job position (also known as a proxy). This provided useful economic data, indicative school quality information, but provides absolutely no information on the non-academic value that students are being provided with. As a result, classrooms have shifted from providing a “whole, enriching, culturally diverse etc” education to one where, inadvertently, is solely focused on pushing out results for one proxy.

If who we are is determined by how we are raised and educated, how will the inadvertent over emphasis on examinations in our lives affect us? If asked to define your education, would you discuss how culturally enriching it was or your grades and the institutions you went to?

References

Labb & Loeb: 2010 – https://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/The%20Challenges%20of%20Measuring%20School%20Quality.pdf