Read that meme again: Only a crisis actual or perceived produces real change. That is the heart of global education reforms – Creating a perception.
Below is a hard-hitting and disturbing documentary, outlining how disasters are constructed or manipulated to justify far-reaching reforms and economic take-overs. I will warn you, it is not for the faint hearted but is well worth watching. But first, an outline of how the Shock Doctrine applies to schools.
So, here is the documentary, The Shock Doctrine. Again, I warn you, it is very hard hitting.
If you watch, pay close attention to the beliefs of Milton Friedman and the then Education Minister, Margaret Thatcher, as a lot can be understood about what is happening right now in education by analysing their views and actions.
The Shock Doctrine book and documentary: an investigation of disaster capitalism, based on Naomi Klein’s proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism — the rapid-fire corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock — did not begin with September 11, 2001.
The films traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today.
New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, shock and awe warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.
The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Here is the longer and more in depth story of the test the kindy kids had to take, blogged here.
The kids are five years old, and it’s a Californian kindy. Even aside from how wrong testing kids at this age is or how ridiculous it is to test them this way – where how they do the test is a barrier to showing what they know – and the fact that the tests were not administered the same for all classes, thereby undermining the argument that they are indeed standardised …. the big question is this: is administering any test in a way that stresses teachers, parents AND students really and truly necessary? Of course it isn’t.
This is not education, this is data collection. It does not serve learners – it serves the companies that make the tests and the administrators and politicians that promote them. They should all be totally and utterly ashamed of themselves.
“”Today my kindergarten took a test called the Common Core MAP.
We had been told to set up each child with their own account on their numbered Chromebook. The Teacher on Special Assignment came around and spent about an hour in each class doing this in the previous weeks.
We didn’t know exactly when the test would be given, just that some time on Thursday or Friday, the proctors would come and test. I set out morning work for my kids today but before the bell rang, the proctor arrived. I quickly swept off the tables and she said we’d begin right away. I went out to pick up my class.
While the proctor set up the computers (disregarding what we had done — that hour the TOSA spent in each class was unnecessary), I went through the usual morning routine. Parents who happened to be in the room scrambled to unpack the headphones, which had arrived in the office that morning, and distribute the computers. We started a half hour later. The kids were excited to be using the computers. That didn’t last for long.
The test is adaptive. When a child answers a question, the next batch of questions is slightly harder or easier depending on the correctness of their answer. The math and language arts sections each had 57 questions.
The kids didn’t understand that to hear the directions, you needed to click the speaker icon. We slipped around the room explaining.
Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse was available. A proctor in one room said that if a child indicated their answer, an adult could help. Other proctors didn’t allow this. I had trouble dragging and dropping myself on the little trackpads.
Kids in one class took five hours to finish. Kids were crying in 4 of 5 classes. There were multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”).
There were kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything.
Kids accidentally swapped tangled headsets and didn’t seem to notice that what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen.
Kids had to solve 8+6 when the answer choices were 0-9 and had to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14.
There were questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason).
There were kids tapping on their neighbor’s computers in frustration.
To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so there were many instances of shut-downs and kids winding up in a completely different program.
Is this what we want for our youngest children?””
So, New Zealand, this is where the madness will lead us if we let the reformers carry on their merry path of obsession with DATA DATA DATA collection at any cost.
Testing children to find out where they are at is necessary – teachers test all the time – we always have done. The teacher should do it routinely and without stress as a normal part of learning, so that both teacher and student can see what needs to be learned next. The abomination outlined above is something else entirely.
When you next hear about some supposedly essential reforms or changes to our education system, ask yourself who is pushing the changes, who stands to benefit financially before assuming they are for the good of the kids. Often, they are for the benefit of business. Just ask Pearson, or Gates, or Murdoch. Or Banks.
Don’t let your child become a data point in a business plan.
Teachers in the USA – join BATs in fighting these reforms.
Teachers in New Zealand – join the Kiwi BATs to raise your teacher voice.
Be very, very clear on this, New Zealand parents – this is where National Standards, charter schools, performance pay and all of the other Global Education Reforms (GERM) lead. It is no accidental path. Stay quiet if this is what you think is right – if this is what you want. But if it’s not, then you really do need to start learning what is happening and start speaking out.
UPDATED WITH MORE INFORMATION HERE (22/3/14)
This from a fellow teacher in California.
“My kindergarteners had their standardized computerized test today.
There were over 100 questions. Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse is available. One class took five hours to finish. Kids crying in 4 of 5 classes. Multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”). Kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything. Kids accidentally swapping tangled headsets and not even noticing what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen. Kids having to solve 8+6 when the answer choices are 0-9 and having to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14. Some questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason). No verbal explanation that you must click the little speaker square to hear the instructions. To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so many shut-downs or kids winding up in a completely different program.
If this is not what you want for your kids and grandkids, you’d better start making some noise. Ten years ago we would’ve thought this would be literally impossible.”
Teachers in the USA – you may want to join BATs in fighting these reforms.
Teachers in New Zealand you may wish to join the Kiwi BATs to raise your teacher voice.
A warning to those countries (like NZ) that are getting ever more enamoured with the idea of testing.
The Network for Public Education (NPE)’s first National Conference closed with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing.
Two of the eleven areas the NPE has asked to be looked into are:
Testing worldwide has always been part of schooling, and was primarily an in-house, in-class affair that is done, reviewed and acted on by the teacher under the guidance of their team and principal so that the teacher knew what to help the students learn next and students knew where they were at and where they were going. Surely those two things are by far the most important reasons for testing?
As global reforms have taken hold of education, testing has become a stick with which to politically beat schools, teachers. communities, and students. The system has been taken down the wrong path under extreme pressure from the likes of Pearson, Gates, the Wal-Mart clan, Murdoch, Arne Duncan and other reformers. It’s no understantement to say in some countries, such as the USA and Australia, the tests themselves are less about education and more a political and money-making tool.
The Network for Public Education (NPE) states:
“True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test.
We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed.
We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Take note New Zealand.
Sources and further reading: