Today the PGDE students at Dundee University finished working on IDL projects. One of the things we wanted to focus on was the process of learning, and less about the outputs. This is hard for people trained in our ‘schooled society’ and Ivan Illich suggested schools reflect society, and society reflects schools, so ended up proposing we deschool society. I like this idea but I also like, no love, learning. I’ve posted about twitter and blogging before and tonight, lying on the sofa, a student tweeted a reply to my last blog post, while they were on a break from writing their essay (very much a product or output). This resulted in a short twitter chat which revealed we had both learnt something from the interaction. This could be the sort of thing that Reber termed implicit learning, although whether it is or not I think this informal, fortuitous learning opportunity certainly has value.
In between replying, and thinking, I spotted tweets from a formal professional learning session being run by Fife Council. They were asking staff for things that would help them engage with PL. The common reply was time. And the staff featured seemed to be suggesting that PL of CPD has to be away from school, or needs to be organised. I am not criticising formal PL or CPD, and Fife Council deliver very good quality provision (so please take advantage if you get the chance!) but perhaps teachers views of what learning is could be reconsidered. Any chat about resources in the staff room while the kettle boils (or a pint after work where teachers debate the latest educational initiative, or the teacher thinking on the bus about the way a lesson just went) presenta a chance to learn. So taking this chance, by tweeting then writing this blog post, and thinking and learning as I go, I am trying to de-educate, and re-educate, myself about the very nature of education and learning. How about you?
I’ve not posted anything about Brexit as I’ve nothing to add to the wall-to-wall coverage of this ‘interesting’ situation. I’d become disillusioned with politics some time before the vote to leave Europe, mainly due to politicians (including ones I voted for) and their self serving nature. And nothing has happened over the last few months to change this view. However this week someone mentioned something, that could happen in Scotland as an indirect result of Brexit, that stopped me in my tracks.
Scottish Education – Proudly independent from England
Some people reading this might not be aware that education in Scotland is a completely devolved issue. This means there is a different approach to running and administering schools, the curriculum and the inspection system. But recently Theresa May gave a speech suggesting that everyone in the U.K. deserves a good education, and she name checked a few cities, including Dundee. The friend who pointed this out, with an active interest in politics, said it might be the first sign of a Tory government plan to take back control of devolved issues, including education. This might seem dangerous as many of those involved in education in Scotland are proud of the system. Recently the SNP have been under pressure on this topic with poor performance in international league tables and unpopular policies such as reintroduction of primary testing. So the Tories may be pushing at an open door on this subject.
Will Education in Scotland become a political football?
Returning the point about self serving politicians, this is something the Tory party excel at, and they also like to drive home any advantage they have. So this desire to reclaim powers, including education, might be more about winning the battle for Britain, post Brexit, and preserve all the associated power and privileges. It is a fairly low risk strategy too, as there isn’t much for the Tories to lose in Scotland, but plenty to gain. With no real Westminster opposition right now the SNP are the main threat and it could be that Theresa May has just blown the whistle kicking off an almighty game of political football, with education sitting in the centre circle. If so this could be a rather unpleasant game, with a less than entertaining outcome.