Are there too many cooks in the education kitchen? It seems that as technology permeates everything, we are awash with pilot projects, initiatives and layer upon layer of ‘special circumstances’ staff, all with new agendas prefixed by the world ‘digital’. Their agenda is to make innovation more system-wide and sustainable, through 21st century skills, and use technologies to reshape learning environments and the characteristics of “new millennium learners”.
Yet too many cooks fail to summarise large bodies of research, and appeal to our hedonistic interest in cyberculture and willing ignore the astonishing lack of evidence presented. We are struggling to find ways to deal with teacher education – and use out-dated methods constantly. Recent research simply finds:
“learning environments are more effective when they are sensitive to individual differences”
Do we really need to fly someone 10,000 miles to tell us this? Do they present us with new evidence of workable differentiation? Is what they say – better than what you do already? Do you believe them – and if so – how will they help you once they leave the stage?
I’m amazed at the number of keynotes who talk about sharing, but don’t – or lock it up behind a pay-wall. Reformist cooks are constantly impacting surface structures and institutional initiatives. Schools however find it harder to reshape the core activities and dynamics of learning in the classroom.
We return time and again to ‘individual differences’. This is the “great disconnect”. We pour millions into this, and yet can’t find a single hour off for a primary teacher to talk to another – and we know that works.
Pensky (2002) warned that there is tremendous jockeying for financial and intellectual superiority among reformers.
We cannot replicate broad societal trends and culture when we break it up into individual parts. We break it.