It’s a shame
In the aftermath of the Economic Crises and with the National Elections coming up in June, the Dutch political parties are outlining their cutbacks. Education is naturally on the tip of every party leader’s tongue where positive investments are concerned. Of course…
Right up to the moment when they negotiate the coalition program. Then the educational system and the teachers turn out to be the changeling: the election promise no one keeps.
Most of us tried to laugh away the educational cutback proposals the civil workgroups presented nearly two weeks ago on April 01. They’re preposterous: pleading for larger classes, fewer hours, a choice-restriction on learning paths and shorter course programs.
But laughing at proposals and name-calling the civil servants won’t ease the general felt anxieties. The uncomfortable uncertainty remains what the coming administration will make of it.
Where are the teachers in all this? The video insert below shows that they’ve got their own take on the future of education. Eighteen American classroom teachers ‘speak out’ on technological integration and 21st Century skills for students.
Seeing that this video’s popping up on European educational websites and Twitter streams, proves that they’re not alone in this. Other educators recognise and underline this vision. I certainly do.
What stuns me is that for two weeks now in a row, Buitenhof reports the government administration not picking up on signals in the field. Last week episode concentrated in a one-issue special on the neurological differences between boys and girls and the impact it has on their learning abilities. The interviewees, all renowned educators and researchers, propagated adapting various learning styles corresponding with the presented findings.
Today Buitenhof featured an interview with Feike Sijbema (CEO DSM), among others a member of the Innovative Platform. In the interview Sijbema explains why the platform failed to achieve its goals on innovations and the furtherance of knowledge. Guess why. This was mostly due to the Dutch administration (again) ignoring advices given.
Doing it together
The teachers in the video not only express their vision on 21st century education, but also the hope that we work on it together. This includes governmental administrations. For if we want to empower students, be it youth or adult learners, we need to invest in their and our (read educators) digital skills. Now.
This means money-wise and time-wise. No cutting back in resources for learning materials; in teachers’ pay; in lifelong learning programs for teachers and in study programmes for students.
Free market thinking
Unfortunately politicians are already aligning free market thinking to the distribution of education. Being leftish, I’m not a fervent supporter.
I’m all for having audits and inspections seeing to the quality of educational execution. But I’m e.g. strongly against hiring high priced ad interims with an economic background and little to no affiliations with the educational process.
You know beforehand what they’ll do: cut back on teachers, teachers’ pay, staff meetings and study programmes. And somehow they always seem to propagate larger classes.
Don’t make promises…
So, to the Dutch politicians out there I say, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
Not where the knowledge acquisition of our youths is concerned. Not where the stimulation of lifelong learning programs for adults is concerned.
The educators are the foot soldiers in all this. And they have a vision. It would be a doggone shame, should you ignore this.
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