Wednesday, 7 December 2016

PISA, BBC Newsnight and what do we want education to be?



BBC Newsnight last night took the PISA tables as the new gospel. The tables show which pupils got a teaching that best taught to the PISA test. That's all. The PISA science test will only say a very limited amount about how 'good' someone is at 'science'. If we think science should include 'the ability to do experiments' say, we would need to know if the PISA science test included that. If it didn't include that, then it wasn't any good for testing that. So one country might be very good at 'experimental science' and may well have spent a lot of time on it but this won't necessarily show in the test.

That principle applies across the board with any testing procedure. The test only tests what it tests. That's all it tells you. One style of teaching usually suits a test better than another. Usually that style of teaching is the teaching that most resembles the test. It's a 'self-serving' system. We have to ask if we want that style of teaching, that kind of education.

As for the 'reading' test, again - we weren't told what was tested: reading out loud? (ie nothing to do with 'reading for meaning'?) 'comprehension'? (that usually only includes 'retrieval' and 'inference' and not 'interpretation') ...and so on.

These issues are fundamental to the question of what kind of education we want and for what purpose. In general terms, if the outcome of the PISA tables is that schools end up spending even more time teaching in a way that suits PISA tests, anything that is not testable gets squeezed out of the curriculum. You know, like stuff to do with ethics, say. Or inventing things. Or coming up with feasible alternatives. Or teamwork. Or compassion. Or planning...

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Leaning tower of PISA tables



Thoughts on PISA tables:

Because politicians and media accept the PISA paradigm: subject=test, it's impossible to argue about this methodology.

What counts as 'comprehension' are in fact scores in retrieval and inference and don't include 'feasible interpretation' = PISA thinking.


Example: Key Stage 2 SATs, test 'retrieval' and 'inference'. This does not include 'feasible interpretation' because there is only 1 answer.

We are so locked into the PISA paradigm that we now think a 'test' in a subject is the same as the subject!

All the non-testable aspects of a subject and of education are eliminated from PISA. It is only the testable that is being compared.

PISA says, 'Pupils in x country are better at subject y than pupils in z country.' It's not the 'subject'. It's the test in that subject.

Notice: all people who talk about the 'subjects' on PISA are really talking about 'the result of a test in that subject'. #verydifferent

Dear PISA, What is education for? A.Teacher.
Dear Teacher, 439. PISA

Once you're in the PISA mindset you can't get out of it. PISA is truth: truth is PISA. There is no other way of describing education.

oh no, PISA tables have gone down the table of tables. There are better tables! PISA doing cost benefit analysis of PISA to improve perf.

The Not-Casey Report: "Very alarming"



The Not-Casey Report looking at how people with wealth avoid contact with the lower classes.

Not-Casey Report on upper classes examining ownership of the media; finding disturbing examples of it repeating same ideas over'n'over again

Not-Casey Report on upper classes finding disturbing examples of 'marrying in' and 'marrying of their own kind'. #worrying


Not-Casey Report on upper classes: Not-Casey on @BBCr4today later to talk about widening inequality means segregation. #worrying

Not-Casey Report on upper classes: disturbing examples of tax avoidance/dodging; non-dom expatriation of capital; lobbying of MPs...

The Not-Casey Report on upper classes: entrenched examples of inherited wealth dominating leading positions is business/society.

The Not-Casey Report published later today on segregation of the upper classes: examples of in-breeding/gated living/private ed.and health..

Thursday, 1 December 2016

"Concerns about immigration"? Where does that come from?

The media keep saying:

"People are expressing concerns about immigration
People are expressing concerns about immigration
People are expressing concerns about immigration"

If you are registered as non-dom you can run a business
in the UK but pay no tax. This costs us billions.

"People are expressing concerns about immigration."

If the government cuts public services, they increase
pressure on public services.

"People are expressing concerns about immigration."

Since 1980, wealth has shifted from labour to capital. 
In other words those that 'have', have more; those that 
have the least, have less. Those that have the least
have given wealth to those that have more.

"People are expressing concerns about immigration"

The government regularly announces that it freezes
the wages of public service workers. This means that 
people can afford less. Their living standards decline.

"People are expressing concerns about immigration"

The government has repeatedly brought in policies
which have helped to increase the price of houses. 
The proportion of people's income required to rent or buy
has steadily risen. Flats and houses cost more to live in.
There is less space per pound of people's income.

"People are expressing concerns about immigration"

Some people do not know that the main reasons for their
standard of living to go down are nothing to do with immigration.
Instead, they keep hearing:

"People are expressing concerns about immigration."

You know what happens next?

some people express some concern about immigration.
After all, people can only think what they think 
based on available information.
The media supply the available information.
They keep saying:

'People are expressing concerns about immigration."

The government laughs quietly to itself:
"People do not blame us for their living standards going down,
they blame immigration."









Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Song of Trump


My wealth will make you feel better;
the more you hear how rich I am
the more you will love me
the more you will be sure that I am the man
to clean out those who have made you poor.
I will display my gold, come to my tower
see how my suits and shirts conceal the way
my body stores more calories in a day
than you consume in a week;
the bigger I am the better you feel;
you think you are safe in my hands
because I point the finger at wicked people
who steal your wealth
most of whom are poor and foreign;
I identify other rich people who are your enemy,
I say they are an elite
as if I am not and never have been a member of an elite.
I make elite sound dirty even as I flaunt the trappings
of the elite I belong to
because my elite will save you.
Just by walking past my tower
you will feel ten feet tall.
My words about greatness will pump you up
and feel proud to be alive.
At long last you will feel better than someone else.
You will be able to wear me in your heart
like a patriotic pace-maker
and if you're lucky at some not too distant point
I will send you, or one of your children, or any relative
somewhere where they can lock up or deport someone
or go to another country and kill people.
This too will make you feel better
or even great.
Look at my tower.
Feel good.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Thoughts on 'liberal elites'

1. There are elites in society.

2. Very few of them are liberal.

3. Non-liberal elites tend to run the show. 

4.. When people say that they are against the 'liberal elite' we might hope that the media will ask them 
a) if they are against elites in general or just liberal ones 
b) is the person complaining a member of an elite, if so, what kind?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

How to Trump democracy



Marxists have this cynical idea that democracy and capitalism work in such a way that those people in power in democratic countries spend most of their time enacting what the biggest owners of capital want and need. However, part of the illusion of democracy is to make it seem as if people like Osborne (or Blair) are acting out of considered principle for what is best for all of us. This means that what are called politicians' 'business interests' should be kept out of sight, and if and when they appear, they should seem like a bit of a coincidence and nothing whatsoever to do with that politician's decision making.


Then along comes Trump who is a fine representative of one aspect of big business: real estate. He's got a lot of it and he rents it out and/or buys and sells it. However, he is also going to be the president. This is a bit close for how the West is supposed to do things. He should look more selfless than that.

It seems that already even quite right wing people are getting nervous about this. It kind of makes the system look a bit naked. Power + property = capitalism. It's not supposed to look that obvious.