Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Just play the game

A short play in which one teacher is asked to do something ridiculous by another teacher who has a degree of seniority.

"Just play the game"
Who decided it was a game?

"Just play the game"
I thought games were supposed to be fun?

"It's all about playing the game"
That line of thinking might be justifiable for da yoot in Baltimore trying to make sense out of a desensitised and brutal drug culture that grasps them in their infancy and thrusts them out on the streets into a world where 'dog eat dog' is as close to literal as you could get without canine cannibalism but I don't think it's befitting of education professionals in the UK with a roomy space wagon, nice power suit and a semi detached house in a nice satellite village.

"But it's what we've got to do"
It's what a group of politicians who made some trite quotes decided about improving things for the children when they realised they didn't actually have control of anything else anybody cared about any more. You should know what you've got to do. You should be screaming, clamouring, ripping down the doors of anyone who will listen and care screaming "THIS IS NOT A GAME"

"But if we don't do this..."
If no one did it then what are they going to do?

"But someone else will do it and then where will we be..."
Um... Kneecap them or something. I don't know... No, really, be more like the miners and less like puppets.

"But where did that get the miners eh?"
Er. Billy Elliot? No, but you can't import teachers from Poland can you. Can you? Could they? They couldn't? Right?

awkward silence. 

I do sometimes wonder if the essential compliance of teachers is a major problem. If teachers are mostly that kid who had the perfect file, the perfect hair, never had an ink stain on their blazer, listened to all the warnings about not smoking, taking drugs and certainly never disobeyed an order or questioned whether their homework was really contributing to developing life long skills and a critical framework through which to engage with the world.

That doesn't sit with my knowledge of most of the teachers I know but yet...

All I want for Christmas is an education system where teachers have genuine input into the overall strategy and policy, where the direction of travel is based on evidence and the people turning the handle don't keep changing the direction so the machine keeps grinding to a halt and people lose their fingers, limbs or worse get dragged in by their hair whilst trying to fix it.

I'd dearly love a full review and rebuild of the entire system, conducted by an objective body. A body outside of government influence that wasn't simply going to use discredited targets and fiddle around with exams and declare it a 'revolution' in standards.

I think I'd probably enjoy the education system more if it were designed by 10 year olds. I also think it couldn't be much worse.

What models should we look at? What courses for optimism are there in the global system? How does the emergence of connective technologies and multimedia threaten to undermine the system anyway and what should we do about it? Is the drive towards 'traditional' values a head in the sand reaction to a shifting, changing world or am I missing the point somehow? If we accept (and I'm not willing to brook argument that the exam system is anything but totally broken) that what we've got now is fundamentally flawed, what actually should we do instead and specifically, what should schools measure and how?

Are we as products of the narrow and blinkered way we look at education actually capable of conceiving anything different? I feel like quoting Kant, then I realise I'm not clever enough.

Join in. It's only a game after all.

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