Science good, maths holding, reading declining

Barry McGaw’s article Science Good, maths holding, reading declining, published in the latest EQ  (Autumn 2008) coming out of the Curriculum Corporation, discussing the latest data from international PISA testing, nicely illustrates some of my concerns with the national curriculum agenda.

McGaw, who has been appointed chair of the new National Curriculum Board, goes data-happy in his two page piece, talking repeatedly about how Australia ‘tied in fourth place …’, ‘tied in third place…’ and ‘Australia slipped in the rankings from fifth in 2003 to ninth in 2006…’. etc. etc.

And then this;

‘We can of course, continue to be pleasesd that our 15 year olds are among the highest performers in the OECD … But we should not rest content.

We are not usually satisfied with less than gold medal performances in sport. We should set similarly high aspirations for our education system…’

Really? That’s funny because the message I hear is that participation and effort and achieving your own potential is more important than winning. And that just getting there is a huge achievement for some. And that perhaps education is best seen in jingoist contexts. And that perhaps these measurements aren’t it all anyway.

No mention of Finland this time around, thankfully, but we can be sure that the National Curriculum executives will be flying in to Helsinki at some point.

Winter Gold Medal photo from FLICKR by danjc003

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One comment

  1. Any time education is turned into a competitive venture, one has to remember that to attain first place, there have to candidates for the lesser places. It’s the same flawed thinking that posits that league tables inspire schools to do better and help inform parents with useful marketplace data. I’d like to see some leadership in places like the Curriculum Corporation that doesn’t seem to be politically inspired.

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