It is clear to me that the time has come for the egg to be unscrambled. The above revised diagram illustrates this by showing a learning outcome egg expanding and its hard, yet fragile, shell fragmenting against a background of four key areas: knowledge, skills, attainment and rank.
I fear the diagram is now turning into an abstract work of art which might (or not) feature more properly in Dulwich’s famous Picture Gallery just down the road from the college.
Where am I headed? I will think out loud as I explain the new diagram.
The original concept was derived from the topical education debate about a knowledge-rich versus skills-based curriculum being taught in schools. Michael Gove, the English Education Minister, has just re-stated his firm position in favour of the former. There is no mention of the term ‘skill’ in his recent article, even though UK ministerial colleagues run a hugely important department (including responsibility for funding many world-beating universities) which has ‘skills’ in its title.
Despite the policy contradictions, schools still need to operate in the real world. My diagram is trying to convey this by showing that … it’s complicated.
Apart from deciding whether to focus more on knowledge or skills when teaching their students, educators also need to measure the individual and collective learning outcomes of these students (their attainment) and respond to the ‘ranking’ demands of key stakeholders e.g. the students themselves, their parents/carers, subsequent education institutions, future employers, authorities etc.
By ranking I mean the educational performance of each of these school children will be statistically ordered for the benefit of the wider group, for example, to inform:
- the potentially, salary-linked performance rating of their teachers;
- a snapshot inspection report on their school;
- league-tables about the state of a particular education system, whether local or global.
This then is my challenge to the speakers and delegates attending the conference.
Help unscramble the learning outcome egg with evidence-informed facts, comment and analysis about the key facets of our education systems.