GRAHAM BROWN-MARTIN on the Design of Education


But I do wonder whether the
examination system itself is deficient. I mean it hasn’t really changed that
much and it sort of siloed in you know why is it siloed? Why is maths separate from physics? Surely they should be somehow combined and in problem solving and so I do wonder whether you know we have a measurement
industry which is really designed around
selling or was designed around selling
textbooks when textbooks were scarce. We do seem to be running a whole education system especially public
state education systems at the behest of multinational corporations as opposed to the national good or the collective good. Why? So they can sell product. Well essentially I mean the state public education system is
monetized at the end by corporations who are the awarding bodies, the examination boards and so forth. It’s very difficult to measure art in that way because sometimes
creativity isn’t recognized until later. You look at the work of Malcolm
McLaren and Vivienne Westwood they changed pop culture forever. So I think that there’s an issue you know we measure what we can and ignore what’s actually
important. And I do wonder whether we actually need a root and branch transformation of the measurement industry because it’s
not the same as assessment. No I was going to say I mean really you’re in danger if you’re not
careful of kind of defeating your own argument by
saying we’ve got to measure everything for it to be good enough. We have got the development of
adaptive assessment now which ironically
computers allow us to do which means that
students can have all kinds of different
pathways that they pursue depending on what
their prior knowledge and their thinking
in terms of what they would see as the next
problem how to solve it. So there are possibilities emerging But I think really
critically you know when we’re thinking about
the future education has to be the answer. I have to believe that because everything about me says teaching really matters and then the
interaction we have between adults and young people in terms of how we
understand the world is vitally important and of course we have to imagine new
futures but I think at the moment we are
where we are so we need to find a way through
of how do we deal with the existing pressures, lessen the accountability on teachers in order that they are
freer to respond to the needs of their students, and give our students a sense that their life beyond school is not going to be the kind of career
that many of the people watching this
program will have had which would have been the acceptance
that you start in one career and carry on… that isn’t going to be how it is. There’s a quote here from Antonio
Gramsci. The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear. We are in this sort of Mind the Gap moment and this is where we can jump at the wrong solutions. How do we begin to navigate this gap? This end of a system and the start of a new system? Well I think Alison’s earlier point about education has to be key in this. I mean Antonio Gramsci wrote that
over 100 years ago, the interregnum, and we are seeing that unfold. Isn’t it ironic that he wrote it in
the 1930s and look at the state of our economy
at the moment. Yes, and he wrote it from prison. I mean you know he was arrested for his wicked ideas. This was predicted also by Guy Standing from SOAS. And his view at that time was the fact that we would lose
employment because globalization would allow us
to move manufacturing and other jobs to
areas of the world where we have cheaper labour and that would take the soul
out of the economy. And we’ve seen that in the United
Kingdom, in the north for example, we’ve seen in parts of America, Detroit. So Guy Standing was saying that what happens there is that when
you don’t have income security where you don’t have meaningful employment. You start thinking about who you can
blame. And he was suggesting that it turns
out you blame migrant labour. You then become interested in extreme right wing politics. What’s happening now is as we start seeing artificial
intelligence, automation, self driving cars, gene editing and so forth. Yes there are going to be great
fantastic opportunities for new jobs that we
never imagined but there’s going to be a period of time quite a long
period of time where we have a large population at internet scale of people who don’t have a regular income. We’re seeing that with zero hour contracts for example
now, that therefore don’t have social agency and we could we could find
ourselves in a lot of trouble. Education must be part of that solution in preparing our young people. It’s not that we don’t know this is happening, and is about to happen, it’s not that we can’t anticipate the future and yet we aren’t designing our
global education systems for this time and we should be because it is, I believe, a big part of the solution.

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