Week 3 – Alice in Education Land by Chris Binge

Picture Credit Salvador Dali

Illustration: Ralph Steadman

This is probably our most original and authentic of all the provocations. It was written by Chris and it comes with a soundtrack here – he didn’t actually finish the soundtrack, but he might for you if you ask him.

You can find the text here

Things to discuss in the comments would be: 

  • What educational paradoxes does Alice face in Education Land? To what extent are learners responsible for their learning in your school? To what extent are you responsible for student learning in your school?
  • How individual are your learners allowed to be? When we remove their individuality what happens to their creativity? Can schools really treat students as individuals?

3 thoughts on “Week 3 – Alice in Education Land by Chris Binge”

  1. Loved this reading! Just brilliant!
    What struck me most was realizing how little responsiblity I have over what happens at school. I surely thought students needed to be allowed more agency, but I had never thought about my own (talk about student- centred, ha!!)
    How amazing it would be to flexibilize curriculums, timetables, spaces…
    This reminds me of this school:
    https://medium.com/pi-top/meet-the-school-with-no-classes-no-classrooms-and-no-curriculum-7cc7be517cef

  2. Yup, and why aren’t there any students at Learnfest? I feel the same as Chris as the rest. I need to keep thinking about what I want…

  3. Lots to unpick there actually.
    Department standardized curriculum vs teacher autonomy. Teacher autonomy fosters innovation, in my opinion, as well as an in depth understanding of the course topic and how to tailor lessons to specific student needs as the course unfolds. Perhaps that is why the some curriculums facilitate the development of students critical and creative thinking more than others. In some, teachers are given the flexibility to meet student needs both individually and as a group in others they are not. Does teacher individuality foster student individuality?
    Individuality is stifled due to the very framework of our school system and attempts are made to create a more individual friendly institution yet the system itself has not changed. As Ackoff discussed (in our earlier prompt) a random part from another system cannot be jammed into another system and be expected to function properly. We often see attempts to meet the needs of individual learning implemented in schools on a superficial level. Example: the idea of not giving grades throughout a bimester and then giving grades at the end of a bimester leading to confusion and is incoherent in nature. If one believes that grades are no longer relevant or helpful than the entire system needs to be adjusted. This is, in part, the struggle between government mandate and institutional aims, parents and schools, university systems and secondary schools systems. We as secondary educators are actually sub-system within a larger economic system. This economic system is changing rapidly due to COVID and technology thus we may have an opportunity to make changes but should also be critical of the new impetus for change as not to be coopted by economic agendas.
    Creativity is inextricably linked to individuality, the struggle for individual thought played out in our society is similar to that in education. I was just speaking to a former student about an article she is now writing about the homogenizing effects of prioritizing English over other languages via international NGO´s (also links back to the squashing of pluralism that technology could have Dr. Schleicher.) Fascinating idea and it has struck me that by promoting questioning of the very tenants we hold dear, by pushing students to question various arguments, by developing the art of listening and criticism we get students like this , who despite being fit within a system virtually their entire life are capable of questioning it and thinking outside of the “box” .

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