In “Edu-babble is turning schoolchildren into ‘customers’ ” (The UK Times, June 9, 2009), Nicola Woolcock says:
Performativity is forcing curriculum deliverers to focus on desired outputs among customers in managed learning environments.
If you struggled to understand that sentence, pity the poor teachers (curriculum deliverers) who are struggling to interpret jargon and management language rather than simply teaching their pupils (customers).
Edu-babble has become so common that it earns censure today in a review of education led by professors at the University of Oxford. Their report criticises the “Orwellian language seeping through government documents of performance management and control that has come to dominate educational deliberation and planning”.
It adds: “As the language of performance and management has advanced, so we have lost a language of education which recognises the intrinsic value of pursuing certain sorts of questions, of trying to make sense of reality, of seeking understanding, of exploring through literature and the arts what it means to be human.”
Professor Pring told The Times that policy language was “leading to a narrowing of the curriculum and impoverishment of learning”. He added: “We are losing the tradition of teachers being curriculum directors and developers — instead they’re curriculum deliverers. It’s almost as though they have little robots in front of them and they have to fill their minds, rather than engage with them.
The edu-babble is direct from John Dewey and his intellectual father, Immanuel Kant. It is designed to confuse and corrode rational thought. And it does what it is designed to do. Modern Deweyianism and “progressivism” are anti-reason, and handicap students and teachers alike. Kant was one of the first, if not the first, to advocate irrationality using the words of reason; other irrationalists philosophers in history had been honest and straightforward about their hate for reason.
Teaching proper is an intellectual profession and should be about training students to reason and to be cognitively independent.
But woe to the teacher in today’s school. The nonsense and inhumanities and indignities, whether subtle or blatant, intellectual or practical, they have to suffer are many — and that, I think, is the chief reason many leave the profession. If the environment weren’t so bad, more would deal with the low pay (which is endemic to our system of education and culture, not necessarily of teaching — to say it’s endemic of the latter is hasty generalization and context-dropping, I think).