Thursday, August 21, 2008

Integrity

A careful look at the dominant education system shows that it lacks various kinds of integrity. By integrity, we mean a quality of consistency with a) qualified standards, b) rational thought, and c) overarching philosophy. Simply put, I am saying that the education system I am examining appears to contradict itself frequently, and fails to deploy consistent assumptions.

Let's take a simple pair of ideas. Firstly, consider the stated idea of an ability-driven education. This is taken to mean that education should be supplied based on the kind and amount of ability a student is somehow determined to have; i.e. the student's qualities determine the education given. Secondly, consider the stated idea of an holistic education. This is taken to mean that a student should be educated across a broad spectrum regardless of a student's preferences or abilities.

This pair of ideas is sold as a linked couplet. Do you think this shows a consistent philosophy?

Let's take another pair of ideas. Firstly, from observation, promotion to the post of principal must come before the age of about 45, or else I suppose that the so-called 'current estimated potential' (which is actually not current and badly estimated) is considered unfulfilled and the officer is a failure. Secondly, a man can be promoted to extremely high office at an age way beyond 60 and receive a huge salary increase, thus inviting speculation that a sudden store of potential has been unlocked.

Plato, of course, does say that philosopher-kings shouldn't begin to deploy their talents till 50, but what can you say about consistency? A famous local philosopher has a detailed exposé of this policy for those of you who still want to work here.

I could go on. I've seen people without proper qualifications for a post suddenly become heads of departments; I've seen people who would fail communications tests through irrelevance, inaccuracy or incompetence suddenly become senior management. The fact is that rapid expansion has one drawback, just as on the battlefield: a lack of qualified manpower that creates a vacuum and some serious vulnerabilities in the rear. This is what happens when 'estimated potential' is equated with 'relevant ability'.

As a whole, the system contains a mish-mash of conflicting, contradictory and sometimes antagonistic policies, papered over and blended with an emulsion of glossy rhetoric and extensive public communications. This is not to say that it is altogether bad; rather, it should be recognised that the compromises that have had to be made have given rise to philosophical and directional inconsistencies. Only when we decide to look at such problems will we begin to reduce the cognitive inefficiencies despite which we have come so far and so quickly.

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