By DR ALISON WILLIS
Student against student, school against school, state against state, nation against nation, it seems the education hunger games has only just begun. And we’ve got data for everything – data for numeracy, literacy, cohort performance, school performance, state performance, national performance. But we don’t mention teacher performance because that, it seems, is too political.
Education, on the other hand, does not happen all the time. Education is more akin to intervention, and usually occurs when a more knowledgeable person shows a learner new information, ways of thinking, or skills. Both education and learning are inherently social in nature.
This is where education becomes complicated, because once we introduce data we introduce ranks and hierarchies. Having a background in educational research, I have a healthy respect for data, but it is so frequently misused in Australian schooling. When data is used to compare student against student, class against class, school against school, district against district – and dare I say teacher against teacher – we undermine the social fabric of education and learning.
Dr. Alison Willis is the author of Nurturing Intelligence, and works as a university lecturer and classroom teacher.