Donald & Mickey

Make Education Great Again (#MEGA)

What can education learn from Brexit and Trump?

I was struck recently by the reporting of UKIP leadership contender Suzanne Evans advising UKIP activists to become teachers and so influence young minds

I wonder then, if education has had an influence on these outcomes?

Could it be that we’re over-emphasising certain subjects within a narrow curriculum to meet industrial objectives rather than societal ones?

I’ve discussed the need for informed public debate about the nature and purpose of education, or school, at some length. In a world that is about to become highly quantified and automated, the future of employment and how every citizen is supported, will be a vital challenge.

Sure, I understand the value of computing as a compulsory school subject but, isn’t part of this understanding the impact of digital media algorithms on public opinion? i.e. they can be gamed. The influence of social media on both Brexit and the election of Trump as President can not be underestimated. Lacking in nuance, the coarse algorithmic nature of social media has, I believe, empowered this revolution.

Angry Thought Germs

So how about the social sciences?

After all, economics being the key driver of global policy making demonstrates the social sciences are a major category of academic disciplines.

I’m thinking of sociology and political science/history here. Surely understanding the development, structure, and functioning of human society is important when you’re creating a new one?

And while we’re here what about the liberal arts?

Philosophy too is considered an academic discipline that allows us to understand the nature of knowledge and the search for wisdom. In a future that promises artificial intelligence that profoundly changes the nature of work isn’t the study of how to live a good life valuable?

Increasing standardisation and a narrowing of the school curriculum’s, prioritised by commercial assessment systems, are surely weighted towards industrial objectives that may just not be valid when these children enter the workforce. And why this strange separation between “academic” and “vocational” subjects?

“In Germany, they make sure college isn’t the only path to success.” via ATTN:

It’s no secret, for example, that well-intentioned industrialists and philanthropists are getting behind the charter school movement in the US and the free school and academy movement in the UK. Could this be a factor in determining that the purpose of school is for each student to pass a prioritised set of tests?

I’d argue that when we’re determining that subjects like computer science should be compulsory we should also consider social science as a way of helping citizens navigate the changes inevitable in creating their new status quo. Who’s to say that it’s not these very skills, understanding society and how to have a good life, aren’t the ones that are needed when they seek “greatness”. After all, isn’t education about society building?


“The data confirms previous indications that local results were strongly associated with the educational attainment of voters”

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