Edufashion has a key diversionary function.
To understand what it is, you have to understand the fundamental conflict that is education. First and foremost what happens in schools is not education it is conditioning for wage-slavery, it cannot be seen as education – the proper meaning of the word. For example the government passes laws, policy and regulations for state education but they do not apply to private education. If education policy is good education, why isn’t it applied to private schools? Fundamentally in the UK there are a few reputable private schools that the system demands must continue to work and everything else needs to be disrupted. What happens? Look at it, is it different to what I describe?
In state education disruption is easy. Within the state sector there are many vocational teachers who really care about educating. These people have to be controlled so their concern for education doesn’t actually lead to the fruition of educating. Whilst these caring teachers are the best teachers, it is essential that these teachers are not in charge of schools. So they reward the careerist teachers with promotion.
Now these careerist teachers are interested in two avenues of progress. Primarily they have made a mistake, and they want out of the classroom. To that end they look at the latest government policy (diversion) that is designed to create confusion. Then they work at becoming experts in this diversion, and are awarded promotion as staff development experts.
There are many good teachers whose approach would be worth educating other teachers to improve their classroom teaching. They never get such promotions because they would do one thing that is not wanted – they would make life easier for teachers. Consider individualised learning. As a theory it is sound but without the resource base it is a huge imposition on teachers. So the criterion for employing a staff development worker on individualised learning is that they do not provide the resource base.
As an important aside the best staff development is always in-house as the only teachers who know what it is like in a school, and how to improve it, are the teachers who work there. So when administration plans a training day they make sure they do not use in-house staff. Or if they do use in-house staff they make sure those teachers do not have preparation time. A typical training day is one in which interested teachers learn new stuff but don’t have time to develop resources, and other staff just consider it a waste of time – it is a waste of time because there are no resources – just additional teacher burdens.
Given that the purpose of staff development is mostly confusion and hindrance, then you can understand edufashion. Edufashion is the latest version of education theory that is supposedly going to make education easier. The main criterion of edufashion is that it has to avoid confronting the two primary education issues – well there is one main education issue, education for wage-slavery, and its corollary that you cannot change testing. Testing is an essential platform of education for wage-slavery because it creates failures. However it creates sufficient failures who want to succeed so that by the time they leave school, they want to succeed, want money, but have no means of getting that money. So they get the less well-paid jobs. You have to fill all the jobs. How do you fill all the jobs if people are qualified and have the paperwork that demands their expectations be fulfilled?
Let’s go back to those who run our schools. They are the worst teachers but are willing to do what it takes to stay in charge. And they have the time to do it. A new theory, edufashion, comes along. Teachers are busy doing their jobs so they don’t have time to learn the edufashion, but administration can attend courses and learn the edufashion. To prove they know more, edufashion becomes the criterion of the interview so hard-working teachers who don’t have the time to learn the unnecessary theory have to take time to understand it. Then they have to work out how they could apply it if they got the job. And then if they get the job they can forget it otherwise the ignorance of the administrator would be shown up.
Edufashion goes in cycles. In 1976 I went to teacher training and learned about individualised learning. 10-15 years later that was all thrown out the window because the government wanted to move the goalposts in state schools by creating a national curriculum and key-stage testing. Whilst every teacher knew that this change was cosmetic, the careerism mechanism kicked in. Careerists were employed to implement the national curriculum (it should be noted that the first people writing the national curriculum were not teachers but education professors, maybe teachers long out of the classroom or theorists who had never been in). It became a career path for promotion to administration, and once implemented every teacher had to change the way they taught because of the changed content, bureaucracy and key-stage testing. And the gains? Educationally none. For the 1% there were huge gains because their puppets now controlled what students learnt; when I first started teaching so long as you were working towards educational aims (primarily exams) you could use your own materials. At the time I left end of 1992 there was no way that would be possible.
There now appears to be full circle in that growth mindset has similar objectives to individualised learning, examination of motivation and recognising under-achievement. Whilst the details of strategies might appear different fundamentally there is no difference. To be fair the person who brought growth mindset to my attention is 25 years younger than me. 25 years ago in the UK he might never have seen the term individualised learning as teacher training college course content would have been geared to the celebration of national curriculum – or the lecturers would not have a job.
Edufashion has attributes of fashion – costly and pointless. Fashion itself is created by the marketers. Do we need fashionable clothes? Of course not, but BigFashion uses our insecure conditioning to create the need for buying the latest clothes – so we all feel the same. They create a market in which the rich are the only ones who can afford the supposed best, and most others feel envious because they cannot afford these clothes. Yet it is so artificial, many have enough clothes. Edufashion is similar in that it is costly, and teachers know how to teach if they are left alone to do it. But that is not wanted.
How should INSET on the growth mindset edufashion be approached? Firstly there is little point in confronting the wage-slavery and testing to create failures as they are not going to be changed given the current state of society. As a personal note I do think teachers should face it internally so that they can be honest with students. When you are working with black students in state schools, do you tell them to work hard so they can be successful? There is no intention for them to be successful so if a teacher tells black students this, the students know the teacher is lying. Students who are meant to fail know who they are, it is perhaps only teachers who don’t recognise this.
If the teachers only know national curriculum, then growth mindset will be a genuine learning experience for these teachers – although INSET should have introduced individualised learning long before.
But if the teachers are aware of the platforms of growth mindset, how do they approach growth mindset? They examine it and measure it against their own practice; is there possible improvement? Life as a teacher is so busy, the only time they have for such evaluation is INSET so take advantage of that time. But discourage involvement in new school-based development programmes as they will usually be timely, cause confusion and give little education benefit – because they are edufashion.
For administration there are usually pressures to determine whether the edufashion has been implemented. See the edufashion as a way of encouraging teachers to evaluate their own practice. If they promote involvement and expenditure with regards to the edufashion then the administration is promoting the diversion and confusion. If the edufashion enables evaluation, then the INSET can be constructive. Unfortunately, as said above, administrators usually embrace edufashion for their own benefits.
Edufashion is usually as expensive and pointless as fashion, don’t invest in it.
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