Sunday, May 20, 2007

What's wrong with education today?

Recently, there has been a kerfuffle when people learned that a new secondary school (ages 11-16) here in England was to be built without a playground. And it's not just any school, either. It's an academy, one of the new state schools that is seen by some as being the end-all and be-all in education.

(For those not in England, it's not like an elementary school playground with swings and slides. It's more of a large, open area for kids to run around in. More of a kick-the-ball and hang out with friends. Though many middle and high schools in the States don't have any break times during the school day, it's a major feature in England. There's generally a mid-morning break and then lunch time when kids eat and run around before returning to class.)

The Head of the new school said,
"Pupils will be able to hydrate during the learning experience."
That's my problem. (Not necessarily the lack of a playground.)
First, why not just say, "pupils will be allowed water bottles in class"?
Second, why call it "the learning experience"?
  • Evidently, we're no longer supposed to prepare people to cope in the real world...we're supposed to provide a good experience. (As long as it's fun, who cares if they're learning?)
  • Evidently, we're no longer supposed to expect children to be responsible citizens...we're supposed to provide a good experience. (As long as they're enjoying it, who cares if they're learning?)
  • Evidently, we're no longer supposed to have children think for themselves...we're supposed to provide a good experience. (As long as it's bright and flashy, who cares if they're learning?
(An interesting side note... Here's a tip for teachers. If you have an electronic white board in your room, be sure it's always on and showing something bright and colorful. It doesn't matter if you use it or how you use it. As long as it's on when your boss walks through, you're seen as providing a good learning experience. Honestly. They never ask you to justify using the electronic white board. Of course, they'll always ask you to justify not using it. Which proves that providing an experience is more important to the people in charge than providing an education.)
Okay, I'm not totally cynical. There need to be ways to of combining learning with "experiences". It's just that, from all I've seen, there's always more emphasis on the experience and not enough on the learning. (See interesting side note above.)

There's an interesting concept called experience economy - "an advanced service economy which has begun to sell "mass customization" services that are similar to theatre, using underlying goods and services as props."

I have some things to think about before I write more...

The original article.
Click to google the phrase to see what a lot of bloggers have to say about it.
Here's one Head's reaction to the article.

Some links about experiences vs. services or products.
Selling Experiences
Experience Packages
Why selling services is not enough.

More on experience economy.


Blogger graycie said...

This is interesting -- You'd think we were in the transformation business. But whose responsibility is it when no transformation takes place? The transformer or the transformee?

It merits thought, all right.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Matthew Reames said...

I know. I think we need to be either at the services level or the transformation level. Stopping in between (at the experiences level) just doesn't get it.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Ewan McIntosh said...

This is painfully correct on so many grounds - thanks for explaining what gets to me in such a clear manner ;-)

7:57 AM  

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