Saturday, August 20, 2011

What do our Schools Produce?

The idea of successful learners suggests achievement. To be considered successful what must one do? How is success measured? Is society's view of what may be deemed “success” as important, more important or less important than the individual student’s own conception of success?

Although “Successful learners” is a little vague, significant benchmarks have been introduced into the Australian education system, such as NAPLAN, which do a reasonable job of measuring academic achievement. The question is, I guess, is academic achievement our only goal?

What about confident and creative students? It could be easily argued that confidence is a non academic measure of success. Creativity, however, is not a measure of success. It is debatable whether or not creativity can be taught, or even enhanced in those individuals who are naturally creative. Some people are successful without being especially creative.

Hardworking people who may or may not be creative, can be, and often are, very successful. In my view, perhaps turning out creative individuals should not be a goal of the education system. I just don’t know whether you can create creative students.

Active and informed are good goals but what does active mean exactly? Are we expecting our students to all become champions of various causes, members of political parties, unionists, community volunteers? I guess that’s not unreasonable. While “active” may be debatable, “informed” is not. Ignorance is one of the biggest problems we have, not only in our schools, but in society in general. It’s one thing for students not to want to know what’s going on, to be socially aware, quite another for educators to accept, in any way shape or form, the questionable maxim, “ignorance is bliss”.

I think they only thing missing from these goals is diligence but I suppose it is implied in conceptions of success and active involvement. As a Christian I wonder where is the mention of making a primary goal of education the development of loving and caring people who respect others and work to promote peace in society by building good relationships. Perhaps such talk is too “Christian” or “religious” for our secular system.

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