Reforming the Problem Child - the Education System Itself

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Reforming the Problem Child - the Education system itself

Student: Martin Bannard
Submission date:27/08/06
Note: I have become involved with this site simply to research the life of Eddie Mabo in a discussion paper for my Primary school class of 10 year olds. I strongly do not agree with plagiarism and laziness, but applaud the sharing of ideas.

Introduction

Reform in education has traditionally been driven by professional motivation to implement newer and/or better practices, the pressures of public opinion and accountability, or the “passing of the baton” in terms of educational and political leadership.

Over past decades, reform in education has also been increasingly seen as an imperative of our macro environment. “…something is wrong. Every wind tee we raise into the gales of the future tells us that people had better find new ways of acting, of relating, of dealing with their environments. Just to survive, it appears we need a new human nature” (Leonard, 1972, p.43).

Society is in a fast-paced, constant state of flux and redefinition affecting “practically every field and condition of individual and social life and activity” (UNESCO, 1998, Para. 2). The important role of education in preparing its citizens for such a society has demanded a phase of reassessment according to the fundamental questions: “What is required of the human being in order to survive and/or succeed in the changing modern world?” and “How can education/pedagogy best cater to this need?” In dealing with the second question, the influence of changes to society, and in the attitudes and behaviour of the current generation must also be taken into account.

Whilst conjecture has been rife, overwhelmingly, recent reform has failed in its task to significantly and positively reshape education. For the most part, the impact of reform has either been negative , minimal or illusory. This is particularly so in the public domain.

Public education, by failing to take a commercial attitude to accountability and constant development, is increasingly seen as of lesser quality and failing in its duties to both children and society (Shaker, 1998, Para. 1-5).

In the broader context and in general terms, today’s pedagogy has ultimately changed little from the pedagogy of times past. Despite the strong need and desire for change, pedagogy seems to have wallowed uncomfortably in a prolonged state of introspection. With so much underlying will, how can this stagnancy be explained?

“Many people desire the best educational system a society can offer. To this extent their aims are the same. They differ, however, in terms of what they mean by the “best” educational “system”, and the ways to achieve this.” (Moran, 2006, page 55.)

The modern educational zeitgeist is characterized by the coexistence of forces, which appear to be at odds with one another. The bullying impetus of political expediency and traditionalist beliefs, contend with an increasingly transformational and challenging body of pedagogical theory. In many circles, the latter has been skeptically received.

These formidable issues engender fear for political and educational decision makers, and also for practitioners. This fear has quite simply hobbled meaningful progress. The effects are tangible and worldwide .

The issues raised are as complex as they are important. My goal with this essay is to outline the challenges, and to present logical arguments supporting a quantum leap in educational reform towards a more equitable, inclusive and functional education system. I will compare and contrast those hitherto seemingly disparate motivators of reform: politics and sound educational practice, in light of “3rd Millenium” thinking (Townsend, Clarke and Ainscow, 1999, p. 363), the work of Alfie Kohn, and other relevant readings.

Identifying the complex nature of the overall problem

The need for educational reform, and a desire for the best possible outcomes...
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