Sunday, January 3, 2016

How To Change The Education System: Change What is Measured And Reverse The Spell

Although the formal education system is obsessed with measurement I have lost count of the number of times I have heard education managers say things like "if it can't' be measured, it doesn't exist".

This obsession with behaviourist style objective testing and measurement makes education performance manageable, it makes education SMART (Specific , Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-related) but not necessarily relevant.

SMART Behaviourist testing and measurement reinforces and perpetuates the existence and conditions of those things that are tested and measured. Formal education examinations test people in isolation using memory, rational analysis, pen and paper to write answer questions posed to them. Once upon a time the examinations of formal education seemed "normal" but no one operates like this any more - the power of the formal education behaviourist system machine maintains these practices while all around things have changed. Much of the formal education system and its examinations have become an anachronism - the only place left where young people still write private pen letters.

Only the education system seems (self) satisfied - universities, employers and society in general want the education system to help prepare people for learning, work and life in the present and the future rather than for the tests of the education system and the past. "I only remember things I can't look up" (Einstein) - this has never been more true - through technology people are connected more than ever before the world, knowledge and how we access and use it are changing faster than ever before. In a faster changing and  connected world learning rather than knowing has never been more important - the society been for many years now been calling for the education system to develop active, transferable and life-long learning"soft skills" such as research, self-management, communication, collaboration, creativity, crap detection (critical thinking) and the use of technology.

The formal education system's spell "if it can't' be measured, it doesn't exist" can be reversed to bring into existence new desired things through measurement - a type of quantum existentialist spell that reads "It exists because I measure it" - subverting the machinery while maintaining the systems existential rational - "I measure therefore I am"

The OECD Pisa tests have long been heavily criticised by progressive educationalists  BUT ..... ironically may just be the method by which radical change in the education systems may be achieved since the OECD Pisa tests deeply influence educational practices in many countries. Andreas Schleicher predicts the new Pisa teamwork test will be game-changer. The new test has "computer-based tasks where students work through a “chat” function with computer-generated virtual collaborators to solve a problem ....  the measurement focuses primarily on the way a pupil engages with others, rather than solely on the correct solution".

The fact that OECD Pisa tests will measure teamwork, communication and collaborative problem solving will, like a quantum existentialist spell, quickly conjure these things into formal and significant existence in education systems.

The problem with collaborative problem solving is one of control ... The OECD PISA tests achieve the test control by using "chatbot" collaborators - the use of "chatbot" collaborators in education will be highly controversial and highly significant.

AI and robotics are developing exponentially and will play a major part in the future and many fear that our children are 'destined to lose out to robots' due to outdated exams system bringing chatbots into the exams will I think be like letting students use calculators. In the early phases in the "rise of the robots" we will race with the machines - collaborating with AI and robotics to get things done - we need to bring collaboration with people and technology firmly into the education system as soon as possible and develop these skills and techniques for the system and for our learners.

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