Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 16, 2009


Daily Mail, UK - Schools using the 'Orwellian language of performance management' are undermining teenagers' education by turning them into 'customers' rather than students, a landmark report says.

Teachers who are forced to use phrases such as 'performance indicator' and 'curriculum delivery' lack enthusiasm for the job, the six-year investigation found.

The Oxford-based Nuffield Review, the most comprehensive study of secondary education in 50 years, said that 'the words we use shape our thinking'.

It notes: 'As the language of performance and management has advanced, so we have proportionately lost a language of education which recognizes the intrinsic value of pursuing certain sorts of question . . . of seeking understanding [and] of exploring through literature and the arts what it means to be human.'

Teachers are inundated with the language of measurable 'inputs' and 'outputs', 'performance indicators' and 'audits', 'targets', 'customers', 'deliverers', 'efficiency gains' and 'bottom lines', the report continues.

In a damning indictment, the report said that a culture of hitting targets, where 'cuts in resources are euphemistically called 'efficiency gains', has led to 'the consumer or client' replacing 'the learner'.

Among the jargon were such baffling phrases as 'performativity' (the emphasis that government monitoring has on achieving targets) and 'level descriptor' (the outcomes that a learner should reach).

'Dialogic teaching' (an emphasis on speaking and listening between teachers and pupils) and 'articulated progression' (allowing pupils options for their next step in the qualification system) were also singled out in the report for censure. . .

The report also said that hundreds of thousands of youngsters better suited to practical work leave with poor qualifications because their skills go unrecognized.

Woodwork, metalwork and home economics have all but disappeared while geography field-work and science experiments are in decline.

Instead, a culture of testing has brought about a narrow focus on written exams at GCSE and A-level. This has consigned a generation of pupils to an 'impoverished' education. . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Education theorists have destroyed education - private or public. The quickest way to reform schooling is to return power to the customers, through the market place. Abolish state education, and let parents and students pick among rival commercial entities. As for the tyranny of standard attainment measures - why should the People be held hostage to the demands of employers and tertiary education institutions? Who is in charge anyway?

June 18, 2009 12:51 PM  

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