Dr. Edward Deming’s corporate dogma of ‘You can’t manage, what you can’t measure,’ has become the mantra for the Federal Government’s education policies.
The latest example is the new compulsory literacy and numeracy exam. A seemingly fatuous $185 student funded exercise; all undergraduate teachers must sit and pass before being issued their teaching degree. Created by the education based products and services juggernaut, the Australian Council for Educational Research. This has come at a cost of $1million dollars to the Federal Government and $3.7million dollars annually to students.
It has me concerned about the ever-increasing binary mindset that politicians and policy makers have for literacy and numeracy – seemingly at all levels of education for both student and teacher.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s focus on ‘basic outcomes for literacy and numeracy’ is the juxtaposition to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ‘innovation agenda’. Ensuring students and teachers have a fundamental grasp of English and Mathematics is important, but not at the cost of trumping the value and development of social skills and creative abilities.
When reflecting upon favourite teachers from my own education both past and present, none are remembered for their fantastic literacy and numeracy abilities. They stand out for their ability for personal connection, enthusiasm for actually wanting to teach and the role models they are.
Why not have these qualities for pre-service teachers tested and measured? The cynic in me simply believes the exam would be too abstract and too costly for the ACER to manage and hence not feasible for on charge to students and government.
Dr. Deming’s saying should be changed to ‘if you can’t measure it, then we can’t make them pay for it.’
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