As I am currently travelling between edu-realms, working and teaching in Higher Ed and K12, it is impossible not to notice how the role communications now plays in widening the gap between “winners” and “losers” though the ongoing marketisation of education in this wide brown land. Today, as I walked out of Central Station, a dozen ‘promotional girls’ in gym pants and t-shirts were passing out leaflets in front of motor scooters hauling mobile bill boards. None seemed to pick up the leaflets disinterested punters dropped as they crossed the road.
They were promoting a ‘school’ called Talent 100, founded by some guy with a perfect ATAR result who will, for a fee, share his secrets of success as you enroll on a course, from year 9 onwards. All over the site are slick promotions which reduce learning to a systematic process of getting the highest grades by working ‘smarter’ not ‘harder’.
I tried to find any reference to scholarship in the website and failed. I did find a page listing the schools and the students who scored highly, which is yet more commodification of children. Glance down the list and you’ll soon notice that not only are these students “enrolled” here, but they are also enrolled at many of Sydney’s elite private schools too. Are we at that point where even the rich schools who are speeding away with funding, resources and staff now also need additional coaching services to reach that magic ATAR and get into the increasingly expensive Universities?
Just how wide is the gap between public and private and neoprivate ‘results orientated’ education. Should students be disqualified from sitting the HSC as they are clearly ‘cheating’ the vast majority of society out of the Australian “fair-go”.
In over a decade of being “online” it remains painfully obvious that despite the advocacy and brow beating, EdTech clearly favours those with money, while the public system is hamstrung by antiquated human-resource policies, staffing arrangements and dwindling pool of technological resources and staff (many who leave to join private schools or align with brands).
At what point could this service become an ‘open’ and staffed by teachers who simply want success for our society? Is this what the young chap who’s founded this wants? — is results driving his passion, or just eyeing off a market-place of parents whom value drill and skill learning, memorising and model answers? Are these students going to take society forward? … well the research into Higher Education success says no, but the marketing says yes.
I once thought that “online” would be a place teachers settled and created learning spaces for kids whom don’t have the kind of life advantages of neoprivate education — but it seems unlikely now, there are powerful factions, groups and alliances which present little in the way of ‘open education’ values of possibilities. Even ACEC (the IT Teachers annual convention is some $800) and needs imported speakers to flog tickets, which is another example of the barriers being created by the market-driven reforms of the last 20 years.
It makes me wonder if I should just buy-into this BS, like I buy a car which I’ll ditch in a few years. Take the financial hit and comply for each of my kids. Buying an education seems no different to buying an iPhone 6 when you have an iPhone 4 these days. Where do you think this will head in the next decade?