Saturday, May 31, 2008

students fail - and professor loses job

Students Fail - and Professor Loses Job

Do we help people from disadvantaged backgrounds by some form of affirmative action, by the modification of standards?

One issue which seems clear to me is that institutions should never create an expectation for students from disadvantaged backgrounds that anything less than full attendance is acceptable. Talented students might be able to do very well with poor attendance but in most cases poor attendance equates with poor performance.

Teachers need to find new ways to engage and motivate students without dropping standards. Students need to accept responsibility for learning. These simple statements seem to have become quite complicated.

It's wrong that someone who takes a stand for high standards should lose their job.

What isn't mentioned in this article is the post modern trend towards cultural relativism that erodes the very notion of standards, it all depends on your perspective.
High standards are attacked from both the Left and the Right: The Left from the point of view of "inclusion", the Right from the point of view of "back to basics". The cultural "Left" (what I call the pseudo left) is more dominant, they promote a politics of inclusion, participation and flattery. It sounds progressive to include people. But it's not a response to a demand from below, it's imposed from above by cultural commissars who are looking around for some way to "engage" the "disengaged masses"
- truth slips from view ...

... some see truth itself is seen as a meaningless concept – due to their embrace of cultural relativism, the importance of "diversity", celebration of difference, a particularist world view linked to the politics of identity, repulsion or revulsion from modernity, all knowledge is seen as socially constructed, different views are equally valid, experience is more valuable than theory
- constructivism and objectivity
We have entered a period where there is incredibly pressure to look good, to achieve well by accountability measurements that are often dubious - the fuzzy standards of outcomes based education. This achieves very little real improvement but generates enormous amounts of paper work and wasted time.

I remain quite conflicted on this issue. On the one hand I see a clear need to establish standards of improvement for the most disadvantaged groups in our society, indigenous Australians in particular. On the other hand, there is a need for sweeping educational reform along the lines of slow deep learning and meta cognition which is perhaps very hard to measure.

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