What should we measure in education?


As I explained on the latest episode of the TIDE podcast, this post annoyed me this week. It’s a perfect example of arguing for conclusions you’ve already reached, using spurious examples and badly-referenced research.

While I usually let such thing wash over me these days, the reason this really grated was for three reasons. First, it was reasonably widely-shared in my network. Second, I think it’s concomitant with the problem we’ve got in education with the cult of meritocracy. Third, the assumption is that the more ‘intelligent’ you are, the more knowledge you have.  

Education can’t be ‘fixed’ because we can’t agree what is the actual http://purposed.org.uk/“>purpose of education. My concern around education reform is that it’s being captured by reactionary, conservative, neoliberal elites who are doubling-down on knowledge-based testing. You can point to as many examples of the need for knowledge as you want, but if you haven’t got the skills to apply it in a particular domain, what’s the point?

‘Knowledge vs. skills’ is a false dichotomy. They’re both important. The problem is that the former is easy to test, and anyone can design a test for it. You either have knowledge on something, or you don’t. The application of knowledge, however, through skill development is much more difficult to assess.

That’s why Open Badges is a trojan horse. It looks like just a metadata standard, but the ability to capture all kinds of learning is a game-changed around the assessment of skills. I can understand why those good at pub quizzes and high-stakes exams might like to perpetuate a system based on recall of facts. But for me, as someone who’s been through the whole academic system and seen it for what it’s worth, I’d like to create something new.

In order to change a system, it’s not enough to critique what already exists. You have to create an ecosystem of value that provides a realistic alternative to the status quo. The question is, what can and should we be measuring to provide that alternative? I’m pretty sure it won’t be rubric-based! Answers on a postcard (or comment), please…

Image via Dawid Malecki