I am currently at American Education Research Association (AERA) 2011 – this year being held in New Orleans (I am told it is pronounced ‘norlEans’). As always with any conference it is often through listening to other presentations that helps you crystalise your own thinking.
So what have I been thinking?
It would seem that England’s education system is not alone in going through a period of radical (although mostly reckless (see below)) change. The financial crisis was a global one and may countries have decided they cannot afford to invest in education in the way they have in the past. This is particularly true of the USA and England. However the financial crisis appears to have legitimised wholesale change at a time of significant political change.
The response in England has been to suggest a movement away from a highly prescribed and technicised view of teaching and the curriculum towards a conservative (small c), traditional knowledge orientated curriculum. The issue with this is that the change does not support the need and whilst a relaxing of the curriculum and instruction may be apparent the direction of travel is towards established principles rather than engaging with new directions. As a consequence we have direction without purpose or at least without justified purpose. So my thinking on leaving ‘The Big Easy’ is that I haven’t heard much to suggest that the new directions are correct – quite the opposite – but movement in the system may however be a positive one if those in education can identify new ways of thinking within the new frameworks now being created. So whilst it may appear that we are being told where we are are going it is up to us to define how we get there.