Monthly Archives: May 2016

Conformist Schools for Creativity

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 “…there just aren’t enough fizzy people around.”

Tham Khai Meng
co-chairman and worldwide chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather

In a ‘Supported by the Best Awards’ piece in the Guardian Tham Kei Meng writes that “Young children fizz with ideas. But the moment they go to school, they begin to lose the freedom to explore, take risks and experiment.”

Now I don’t necessarily wish to burst Tham’s bubble but what is he talking about? Is this a suggestion that every household in the world is full of children experimenting, taking loads of risks in a state of absolute freedom? Are there no helicopter parents hovering around to stop a child from falling off a swing? Are there no parents telling a child when to go to bed? Are there no carers ensuring that little children keep within parameters and, maybe, garden, nursery or park walls?

Is the school the place where children begin to lose freedom or is it part of the natural state of childhood? Man is born in chains and the process of parenting and schooling can help the child become ‘free’. Tham writes:

We need to do two things to address this. First, we have to debunk the notion popularised by Hollywood that the creative artist is cut from a different cloth than normal folk – that creativity is something mysterious, elusive and cannot be taught.

We are not talking about high art, but empowering people to use their imagination. Not everyone can be Mozart, but everyone can sing. I believe everyone is born creative, but it is educated out of us at school, where we are taught literacy and numeracy. Sure, there are classes called writing and art, but what’s really being taught is conformity.

Debunking the Romantic notion of the artist in ‘his’ garret is one thing, knowing this is not a Hollywood invention is another but, oddly, in three sentences Tham writes that he wants to rid us of the idea that the creative artist is cut from a different cloth, that he is not talking about high art and then writes that not everyone can be Mozart, but everyone can sing. What does he mean by all this? High art is for the genius? The rest of us can join the chorus? Is singing a song creative? Is speaking creative? Is a conversation creative? Where does Tham draw the line? Clearly he thinks Mozart is cut from a different cloth and, I suppose, high art is different to creating adverts, but are creative people who have not had it educated out of them at school, school refusers? Are they all rebels with a creative cause? Sure there was learning to write and do a bit of art but what’s really being taught is conformity, what does he mean?

I hate the terms literacy and numeracy, but why not learn to read and to write, and to count and calculate, these things don’t ‘kill creativity’. When Tham worries about conformity does he mean conformity in using the alphabet? Conformity in the use of watercolour, charcoal, pastels and clay? Conformity to a tradition? Don’t we learn to do art by copying the way of the ‘geniuses’ of the past – read some Rowling then write a Harry Potteresque story of your own… learn the form, challenge the form, create your new(ish) or derivative form?

When we try to knock the creativity out of people, what happens? Try confining them in, say, a prisoner of war camp – put them in real chains. What happened when people tried pushing conformity onto the prisoners in ‘Colditz’ Castle? The first British officer to escape from the High Security Prison was educated at Eton and Oxford, he escaped through the trap door in the theatre during a production of a play, then dressed as a German soldier, Airey Neave, escaped to Gibraltar with his comrade in Arms the Dutch officer Anthony Luteyn.

Later Neave got a job with MI9 as an Intelligence Officer – here he was in charge of another old Etonian Michael Bentine who went on to create the mad world of Potty Time and work with the Goons. Fellow Goon Spike Milligan attended a Convent School in Poona and St Paul’s High School in Rangoon, these schools didn’t knock the creativity out of him. Peter Sellers attended the Catholic St Aloysius College before he fell in the water… Harry ‘Seagoon’ Secombe, attended Dynevor school in Swansea and, yes, he did sing in the choir of St Thomas Church. These schools taught conformity maybe, but one needs a sense of conformity to appreciate the ridiculousness of it. Anyone who has listened to the Goons appreciates that the art grew from a sense of knowing a lot about conformity.

Bluebottle: ‘Ere, why ain’t you got no clothes on?
Eccles: I’ve just been making a phone call.
Bluebottle: You don’t have to undress for that!
Eccles: Ha, ha! We learn something new every day!

Conformity, dressing for dinner, putting on a ‘telephone-voice’, trying to do ‘the right thing’, in a world without rules, ‘proper behaviours’, we have nothing to laugh at… the problem for Tham is that actually we fizz with ideas at the very point of constraint, when people try to put us in chains we are at our most ‘fizzy’. Try being in a staff room when a new initiative is announced, the dark humour, the ‘taking the piss’, the ideas on how to undermine the new order.

Tham writes that the school:

…system worked well for blue-collar workers – people who clocked in at factories and stood on production lines making things such as automobile engines. But in a world driven by search engines, the system is a busted flush. We must teach creativity at school as a matter of urgency.

No doubt the system also worked for advertising creatives, who are these people in advertising who learned how to sell product? Are they all mad men? Are they cut from a different cloth? Did they go to special creative breeding schools, or the same schools as those blue-collar workers? And these factory workers – why teach them to read? Why risk that they might be able to read the 1945 Labour Manifesto (written by Toby Young’s dad) and what it said about education?

And, above all, let us remember that the great purpose of education is to give us individual citizens capable of thinking for themselves. (Labour Manifesto 1945)

This is the point: school doesn’t educate the creativity out of people, instead it educates to give them the wherewithal to be free, to be creative and think for themselves. Without constraints we are left to wander, without the imprisonment of a place we can’t think how to escape, without the sonnet form we can’t write poetry that lasts for centuries, without the alphabet… hey here’s twenty-six letters – write a blog! Without the idea of constraints how would advertising work? Without a client, a product, the need to be concise and connect different media both ‘old’ and ‘new’ they don’t have an ad campaign…

NB: Teaching creativity in school is not about ‘free activity’, as this piece, from the wonderful Joyce Grenfell shows very well.

 

Don’t Panic About Tests

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‘In some ways I don’t feel like a teacher at all anymore. I prepare children for tests. They’ve not enjoyed it, I’ve not enjoyed it, but we’ve done it : and one thing my children know how to do is answer test questions’  Zoë Brown

Zoe and her fiancé Tim Paramour have both made a big thing of quitting teaching – with articles focussing on their reasons published in ‘The Independent’. Paramour wrote that:

2012 was the turning point. Ofsted’s obsession with results and the threat of no-notice inspections for schools whose test scores dipped engendered a culture of fear. Terrified by the threat of losing their jobs in an academy takeover, headteachers made more absurd demands of their teachers’ spare time.

This is telling, Headteachers are making absurd demands because of the perceived threat. Now I’m not denying that the threat exists but I do wonder if making absurd demands is the…

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Don’t Panic About Tests

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‘In some ways I don’t feel like a teacher at all anymore. I prepare children for tests. They’ve not enjoyed it, I’ve not enjoyed it, but we’ve done it : and one thing my children know how to do is answer test questions’  Zoë Brown

Zoe and her fiancé Tim Paramour have both made a big thing of quitting teaching – with articles focussing on their reasons published in ‘The Independent’. Paramour wrote that:

2012 was the turning point. Ofsted’s obsession with results and the threat of no-notice inspections for schools whose test scores dipped engendered a culture of fear. Terrified by the threat of losing their jobs in an academy takeover, headteachers made more absurd demands of their teachers’ spare time.

This is telling, Headteachers are making absurd demands because of the perceived threat. Now I’m not denying that the threat exists but I do wonder if making absurd demands is the right way to deal with it? I have long argued that the accountability regime has lead to a distortion of what constitutes a good education, but by blaming this regime for every bad choice made in a school just adds to the problem rather than highlights it.

In my book, Trivium 21c, the former education minister, Elizabeth Truss, argued that: ‘At the moment exams have two purposes: one is assessing students and one is assessing the school. I think those two purposes need to be separated.’ She was right and if when we test children it is not mainly about assessing them but mainly about assessing the school the situation is exacerbated.

Paramour went on to say:

Got a passion for music? Primary teaching is not for you. Want to inspire children with drama? Go hug a tree. Think children should learn about their local area? Officially that’s fine (it’s on the meaningless, untested part of the curriculum) 

He seems to imply what is not tested is ‘meaningless’ Now this might be dark humour at play but does formal testing excuse a narrowing of the curriculum? Paramour suggests that Ed Balls was an ‘impressive’ Secretary of State and that the Rose review of the primary curriculum was a good thing as it suggested that:

…traditional subject divides be replaced with broader areas of learning and stressed the importance of play, particularly for younger pupils. It promoted the development of good speaking and listening skills and the value of nurturing character traits in young people such as resilience and independence, as well as the clear focus on maths and English that already existed.

It seems to me, from this statement only and not the whole review, that the Rose review could have resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum – drama, in particular, fares badly if subject divides are removed, it becomes lost as it metamorphoses into being a pedagogical tool to study issues and tick ‘speaking and listening’ boxes through role-play. One of the best ways to protect the Arts in education is to have ‘traditional subject divides’.

Brown states in her piece, drawn from this blog, that she has focused on the answering of test questions. I wonder how much this has been done and whether in reaction to the over-bearing accountability measures teachers are focusing too much on the absurd demands driven by their SLT which, in turn, might be an over reaction to the absurd accountability measures? That the reaction is understandable is one thing but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be questioned, how a school reacts to measures can exacerbate the situation.

Take stress, a teacher needn’t pass undue exam stress onto her pupils, and a Headteacher needn’t pass undue stress onto her teachers. People work less well under a lot of stress; by passing it down the chain, each link ceases to function so well. Therefore if a school wants to perform well, they should do a lot to take the pressure off. This is not done by telling children they needn’t be stressed by tests etc. by offering last minute letters signalling ‘DON’T BE STRESSED’, which is the equivalent of Corporal Jones shouting ‘DON’T PANIC‘ it is done by letting the tests come and go with as little rancour as possible. How the tests have been introduced by the DfE and the content of the said tests is open to question but increasing panic throughout the system doesn’t help. How to not panic so much? Well, maybe more testing, low stakes, as part of regular teaching and learning could help.

This excellent piece by Tim Oates points out that our children are not over tested. He writes:

The sense of ‘most assessed’ derives not from the amount of formal testing, but its ‘high stakes’ nature…

adding that pupils:

often fail to distinguish between a formal, required national test, and a timed, ‘quiet’ test devised by the school. To them, it’s all testing

Oates points out that:

Finland, that country which is seen as relaxed, high performing and respectful of teachers, has many more timed, ‘quiet’ tests in primary schooling than we do. Frequently these come from well-designed learning materials and, interestingly, from teachers’ associations. The Finnish State has a history of testing too: tests from the centre, not to all children but to a sample, for the state to make judgements about the quality of schooling in the country. Overall, a high density of formal tests… in Finland – where testing also is far more frequent than in typical primary schools in England – pupils aren’t stressed by the high levels of testing.

Maybe this could offer us a way forward?

The absurd demands that are, it is said, being made by school management can be alleviated through thoughtful curriculum design, for example a ‘joined up curriculum‘ would help enormously. Traditional subject boundaries, especially at ks2 and 3, help protect a broad curriculum offer and, especially, the Arts. We should test more often, we should design better tests and teachers should be at the forefront of the design of these tests. For accountability purposes the state could run sample tests to ascertain overall quality of schooling and, indeed, schools. In the meantime, let’s ditch the absurd ‘don’t panic’ approach that may be adding to the stress our youngsters feel.

 

 

The Blob Goes Back To Sleep

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The organisers had put together an interesting day, some great speakers were primed to offer their insights, wit and intelligent observations…

Then it all went pear shaped or, maybe, blob shaped.

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Can we separate the fact from the fiction? Will the truth be told? Instead of traditionalists running away from the school of progressives it seems as though the progressives themselves have run away. The blob awoke, looked around and went back to sleep. Ah well, maybe the blob will hibernate for a bit and then wake up though I wonder how different the education environment will be by then?

Is a Classroom a Room for Class?

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British society is riven by class prejudice, education has done its best to ensure these prejudices are retained. Whether it be the public schools for the upper classes and the secondary modern for the children of the working class, ‘I know my place’ has resounded down the years through folklore and education policy. Comprehensive education was meant to do away with ‘that sort of thing’ but, of course, it has done nothing of the sort – too many Brits can spot a bit of posh at twenty paces and decipher a commoner’s accent at the merest glottal stop. Education can’t do away with years of ingrained prejudice – snobbery and inverted snobbery, but one thing education can be is ‘beyond’ class.

That there are obvious accoutrements of class cannot be denied but a school should be a place for sober reflection, texts shouldn’t be chosen for ‘our kids’: the posh boys of Eton shouldn’t be denied Kes and the girls of bog standard comp shouldn’t be denied Jane Eyre. There is no need to deny class in the conversation of the classroom – it should be a room for class discussions as well as other discussions that open up the whole of human experience to us. To deny certain works from that discussion, is to deny children the breadth of experience that education is there to open up for them.

If education was just to hold up a mirror to our own lives and never show us a world beyond then we would be all the poorer for it, for that wouldn’t be education it would be prejudging our limitations and ensuring we were all kept in our place, art doesn’t accept that and nor should the teaching of it.

 

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Should You Stop Teaching The Curriculum?

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Increasingly, digital access is freeing teaching and learning from the constraints of prescribed curricular content. 

Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy

There’s an old trope that goes round and round in which it is said: “Some teachers taught the curriculum today. Other teachers taught students today. And there’s a big difference.” I love binaries, they help focus debate and can be a source of an interesting dialectic but this trope is either a false dichotomy or an extremely telling statement about an unbridgeable gap in education. Most teachers teach students the curriculum, this is why it should be a false dichotomy but, a number of teachers keep re-quoting and reposting the above trope, implying that they are not teaching the curriculum, leaving me to wonder what they are teaching instead? I know… the student!

In Michael Fullan’s and Maria Langworthy’s publication ‘Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning’ the authors write that: “The new pedagogies require students to create new knowledge and connect it to the world by using the power of digital tools.” They argue that we need to redesign learning for the twenty-first century. Their new pedagogy revolves around student centred learning, using technology as the accelerator in a classroom in which content is discovered and where the creation of new knowledge replaces the old idea of teaching a curriculum.

Technology, it appears, is not useful for curriculum content delivery, there is evidence that its use is associated with lower performance, as Sir Michael Barber states in his foreword to Fullan’s and Langworthy’s book: “Where technology is used, research findings on its impact on learner outcomes are disappointing.” However, the book makes the case that, rather than dismiss technology one needs to disrupt the whole way of teaching. This new model dispels with the idea of a teacher teaching the curriculum and instead the pupil constructs their own curriculum by discovering it and making it. The teacher no longer needs to teach the curriculum, rather they  co-construct the learning. As the old adage goes: the teacher no longer teaches the curriculum, instead they teach the student, except they don’t even do that, this teacher doesn’t really teach at all.

The authority of the teacher is to be diminished, and her position as an author of a curriculum is destroyed. Teachers would no longer need to be trained in subject specialisms, they would need a breadth of knowledge to help point students in various directions, though this would not offer anything that an algorithm or two couldn’t do, the idea is that the pupil has authority over his learning, but will this really be the case?

The authors make the case that ‘deep learning’ will occur:

‘Deep learning’… develops the learning, creating and ‘doing’ dispositions that young people need to thrive now and in their futures. Premised on the unique powers of human inquiry, creativity, and purpose, new pedagogies are unleashing students and teachers’ energy and excitement in new learning partnerships that find, activate and cultivate the deep learning potential in all of us. Deep learning is more natural to the human condition because it more clearly connects with our core motivations: to directly and deeply engage in learning; and to do things that truly make a difference to our lives and to the world. In the best examples, teachers and students are teaming up to make learning irresistibly engaging, and steeped in real-life problem solving.

These learning teams should follow where the child’s core motivations lead, though algorithms might do this better with the hidden biases seamlessly connecting the child to items of ‘interest’ in much the same way as Amazon does. If the pupil wanted to learn something ‘specifically’ they could ask their computer and a more sophisticated form of Siri could navigate potential sources and resources, and then recommend a ‘sat-nav’ journey for the pupil to take – most of it likely online.

Shorn of their curriculum expertise teachers would need to be re-skilled, with their emotional intelligence coming to the fore, spotting when a child is in distress or in need of some ‘away from screen time’ – though I expect the computer could eventually take on this role too. The machine will be assessing the child’s work, it will be differentiating, co-creating a personalised curriculum for every child, adjusting the speed of delivery and maybe, move on in response to the child’s boredom threshold, we will have a truly child centred education, and the teacher will be in thrall to the machine and the child.

The ‘new pedagogies’ can be defined succinctly as a new model of learning partnerships between and among students and teachers, aiming towards deep learning goals and enabled by pervasive digital access. Most instructional elements of the new pedagogies are not ‘new’ teaching strategies, although we would say that the active learning partnerships with students are new. Many of the teaching strategies that have been advocated for at least a century by the likes of Dewey, Piaget, Montessori and Vygotsky are beginning to emerge and be embraced.

This deskilling of the teacher, the most expensive and annoyingly inconsistent part of education, is, almost with us. The machines that take centre stage will also be expensive but will be sold on their efficiency, reliability and that they will not only do the job better it will be a different job – not some boring teaching of a curriculum this will, instead, be preparing children to live in the 21st century:

The new pedagogies, as we… describe them, require students not only to create new knowledge, but also to connect it to the world, using the power of digital tools to do things that matter beyond school. It is through this final step of ‘doing’ things with knowledge that students gain the experience, self-confidence, perseverance and proactive disposition they need to create value in our knowledge-based, technology-driven societies.

The child reaches out to this world through the power of digital tools – much as we do today in social media but in the future this could be more powerful than we might imagine. The authority of the child will be paramount, but at what point will the child surrender his authority to that of the machine?

Watching Formula One, where man and machine pit their wits against each other – where the machine is designed and driven by human beings, in awe of the power that they have unleashed, aware of the noise, the amount of damage that can be done if anyone gets anything wrong, indeed aware of the fragility of humanity itself as death could be stalking round the next bend… This struggle to understand the machine is what gives motor racing its cache, to understand what it is to be human, one also needs to understand the machine. Yet if our classrooms are driven by the power of digital tools and the human is but a slave to the machine, we could lose sight of the essence of us. If we are excited by the ‘nearness’ of Australia to our London classroom, if we are excited by our virtual reality safari to Africa, but lose sight of the adult human next to us with their diminished role and their deconstructed authorial voice, we lose sight of slowness, of a lack of exciting machine driven stimulation, we will lose sight of the nearness of teaching, to our neighbours, to home. Teaching, in the first instance, is a human exchange.

The twenty-first century might be the age of AI. Just around the bend, we are told, sits the behemoth of ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Something, which Stephen Hawking believes is: “The biggest event in human history” and, he warns it could be: “The last [event in our history], unless we learn how to avoid the risks.” Bill Gates believes it: “Should be positive if we manage it well.” adding that he: “[doesn’t] understand why some people are not concerned. Because what happens if we don’t manage it well?”

Our child-centred classrooms will be churning out children who will be machine friendly, in fact their major educational relationship will be with technology, their major human relationships will be with co-learners and carers. Human beings for cuddles and companionship, machines for knowledge. Clearly all humans will have to learn to hold machines, both software and hardware, in positions of trust. Just as many of us use Google without thinking about it, so will Artificial Intelligence invade our lives by stealth. The Satellite Navigation of our physical selves will be matched with the navigation of our minds and as machines become clearly cleverer than us we would be foolish to look to each other’s flawed and inefficient modes of thinking, instead we will be more and more in awe of our technology, as it solves intractable problems that have puzzled mankind for centuries, composes music that plays our emotions like a harp, writes better books than us and beats us at every sport and leisure pursuit we have invented and are yet to invent. At this point we might wonder whether we need an education at all.

Is allowing technology to dictate how we teach, why we teach and what we teach ‘managing it well’? Will we be sitting in classrooms engaging with technology and co-learning and be ‘learning how to avoid the risks’? It seems that, instead, critique goes out of the window… Fullan and Langworthy want us to change our entire education system to make sure technology works and rather than change the technology to aid us in our art they want to take away the authored curriculum and instead of a teacher struggling with technology, the technology dismisses the teacher.

As the troubling Heidegger reminds us:

In its essence, technology is something that man does not control.

Do we want to allow it to control us?

Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it, to which today we particularly like to do homage, makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology.

The essence of technology needs to be understood on its own terms, we aren’t there to ‘master’ it, it is not a mere tool but we should also not become mere tools in response to it. The instrumental use of technology can cause man, himself, to become technological. We become obsessed by data, by utility, technology itself becomes an instrument of domination, and this is where Fullan and Langworthy lead us: by refuting the authority of the teacher, we eventually replace it not with the naive authority of the child but by the authority of the machine… and behind the machine? The company that made it.

Then along might come a visionary who says: “Some teachers taught the curriculum today. Other teachers taught students today. And there’s a big difference.” They say what goes around, comes around, and if you sit in the staffroom long enough the old initiatives will return dressed up in brand new packaging. And people might be heard banging on the doors of the classroom of the teachers who teach the curriculum, those who hold stories in their hearts, those with fully formed narratives to tell…

Why would anyone want that? Because we are not machines for teaching, we are teachers and teaching is a humane activity that is deeply associated with caring and nurturing, but a teacher doesn’t just care and nurture children, she also cares for and nurtures the culture and the traditions in which she has been taught and, in turn, teaches others. She is interested in preserving the distinct voice of her subject, she knows that art is different to music, that maths is different to chemistry and this is important in our reaching different ways of understanding our world. Part of this understanding of the world is the understanding of technology in its essential form, not by giving it dominion over us, but by understanding that it can be a part of  the pursuit of wisdom. We should not outsource the curriculum to some future artificial intelligence, with its eristic voice, rather we should ensure the centrality of the idea of schooling, and within this school we have the authority of the humane teacher ensuring a range of eloquent and articulate voices are brought into the realm of each child and for this to occur the curriculum has to be at the heart of what we do, as it is the place where we organise our human stories and spark important conversations.

Teach the curriculum.

A Few Lines for the SATS strike…

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The job of the conservative is to conserve the tradition, the job of the progressive is to challenge the tradition, shake it up and, maybe, break it.

Imagine a society that was deeply conservative, it would stagnate, change would not happen, the same rituals and ways of seeing and being would be passed on and those who tried to break with tradition would be dealt with ruthlessly.

Imagine a society that was exceedingly progressive, it would have no roots, change would happen all the time, just because things were done that way yesterday would not be a blueprint to do it that way today or tomorrow and those who tried to make things stand still would be dealt with ruthlessly.

Imagine the English Language, never changing, responding to rigid rules, no new words and a fixed grammar…

Imagine the English Language, always changing, having no rules, new words all the time and no fixed grammar.?/ with Punktuation… Oh Exclamations Up Yours!

Without the adherents to tradition there would be nothing to rail against and without the revolting breakers of tradition there would be no creativity…

Though what happens when the progressives wish to conserve and the conservatives wish to progress? The progressives hold on to their tradition of child centred play based topic learning and the traditionalists snarl and break that tradition by bringing in rigid rules, to ‘restore’ standards, or bring new ones in… to ensnare those extreme progressives who take their ‘virtuous’ stand against rigidity and rules… Once the teacher closes the door to their classroom, they can do what they like, what’s a government to do? What instruments do they have in their lockers to ensure their wishes are carried out?

Tests… Accountability…

So the call comes out: hey, let kids be kids… roaming free in halcyon daze…

Though what sort of childhood and when was this idyllic past? Kicking a ball on a black and white terraced street? Picking daisies in the park of a Sunday? Tracing raindrops with your fingers down a window pane? Running wild through the trees? Swimming in the lagoon? Spearing fish through the Ice? Please Sir can I have some more? Playing in bomb sites? Twelve to a bedroom? Seen but not heard? Fifa 2016? Piano lessons, Ballet, Art class, Scouts and Guides, Travelling on buses, trains and automobiles… Facebook, TV, Popcorn, SnapChat, KFC…?

Sandpits, water, forest, finger painting, singing and dancing with tambourines… Or timetables, tests, knowing the difference between a preposition and a subordinating conjunction  and believing there is only one answer…

We don’t need no thought control… the brain washing – the ‘stuffing it down our throats’

School or play? Find your own way, be who you want to be…

As some put it on SATS strike day: “Performing in tests versus the love of learning…”

And it seems like only yesterday some people were saying there was no dichotomy.

 

 

Are Schools Exam Factories?

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Are schools exam factories?

Take a look at a picture of a contemporary factory production line, how does the analogy pan out? Are the robots teachers? The products, children? The outcome, the exam? If a car factory makes cars, an exam factory makes exams, Pearson?

Well, no, the child must be the outcome, but not any colour as long as it’s black… Isn’t this the metaphor, the Fordist idea? These days factories churn out cars that are seemingly personalised for the customer… any colour as long as it suits your personal choice, different engines, seat coverings… and then the customer can add a smiley sun ‘smell nice’ to add to the character of their car…

Some car companies even cheat at exams…

The metaphor should not be exam factories, it should be ‘Child Factories’… Our factory child is clearly a child though seems different to other children, shaped around customer choice… and the customers? Parents? Or ‘Society’? Can we buy the product? What if we don’t want it, can we reject it to sit in a car lot for the rest of its days?

The robotic teachers all doing the same thing, day by day, wielding exactly the same moves day in day out, hammering the child with exams, the nuts and bolts of curriculum, the soldering on of character, the spray painting of happiness, the dark leathery interior of romantic poetry, the engineering of physical education, the computer brain ready to be plugged in to the hive mind. The robotic teacher – provided by an edTech company near you… The child sits lazily on a line, prodded and zapped, it passively passes through – splitting infinity.

Add to this that there are many factories with many products, not just cars, there are bags of crisps, many flavours, there are computers, pork pies, plasters, and plastic things, factories make so much stuff…

And there is a lot, too many, the tyranny of choice?

To reject this analogy, what would we have to do?

Would we want to reject the many different products, the vast and troublesome choice that floods our shop shelves? Far too much? A lot of it is exactly the same too… for all that choice there are many boxes of Persil and Daz.  So produce less, take more care, educate fewer? Make each teacher not a robot but a craft’s person – turning wood or clay into unique products… fewer in a lifetime, but each product worth so much more… taking time and care… And each craftsperson  supremely able and talented; not mechanistic, artistic.

The child, crafted into a unique individual, on the shelf of a select arty shop, fewer but more discerning customers picking them up and appreciating the craft that has gone into turning them into these precious pieces…

Or reject the analogy altogether?

Each child for themselves! Not made by others – free to roam, to be out in the fields and forests shaping their own destinies through the force of their inner spirits…

 

No more teachers, no more school…

 

Or find a different analogy?