Monday December 14, 2015
Why It Is Time to Reconnect Education to the World We Live In
As we have become globally urbanised, we have learnt to become functional beings. The modern education world, with its reductive assessment protocols, its deterministic and over-managed systems, designed to optimise student performance as if they were units of productivity within the broader materialistic ambition, is crushing the life-force out of one of our centrally important core social systems and structures.
Education, alongside healthcare, social welfare and justice, is under concerted attack by the hegemony of economists, industrialists and bankers who would rather not have vast numbers of self-reliant, articlate, imaginative, soulful, creative beings, but rather compliant, docile and obedient workers. Don’t blame politicians, they are as worker bees to the powers that pull it all forward.
We have been seduced by the illusory imaginings of the fiscal benefits of the corporate mind. I know, I have worked there and heard and seen the desolate financial plans of those who would see an end to freely available schooling worldwide, in preference for a privately functioning system which generates money and compliant workers as outputs. In so doing, our schools are destined to fail, because in their essence their purpose is not economic efficiency, output, achievement at all costs. Schools are locked into a desperately shallow narrative of progress, which in turn is built upon an illusion of economic growth, it is neither desirable, nor sustainable. Nor is it useful.
Education is fundamentally about relationships - how people work together to solve problems, how they play together, have fun and imagine, together, how to make the world a better place. If you don’t believe that then ask yourself what you are doing as an educator? If not this, then are you simply propping up someone else’s dreams and ambitions. If so, that can't be a good thing.
So what is to be done?
We break the illusion of certainty, and break from the over-managed and under-imagined pedagogy.
We celebrate and nurture abundance - of approaches, of interests, of potential routes to success. We encourage and nurture insane and imaginative projects which have everything to do with joy and playfulness. And we learn (re-learn) to educate as nature functions, within the embrace of emergence.
We tear away the metaphor of performativity and declare it for what it is, a repressive tyranical last-century industrialised agenda designed to keep people quiet, overstressed, and preoccupied with tiny worlds.
We learn to define our world using the ever-present, and utterly terrifying, natural system.
Terryfying? Yes. Because it remains the new frontier, the universal constant, unmanageable, unrestrained, unfettered by the tyrant. We embrace the natural world as our leading mentor in the dance of time and in so doing we make a break for the future.
It is time and it is urgent. It is now, it is me and it is you. It is us all.
Paul Clarke is a professor of education at St Mary's University in London and works at governmental level internationally supporting countries and communties to improve education systems by realligning basic principles with a more ecologically sustainable model.
On the 13th February 2016 he will be involved in our Changing Climate Curriculum Planning Day. More details here.
He is currently writing a book for the Independent Thinking Press and is a contributor to our second Big Book of Independent Thinking, There Is Another Way.