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What makes the world (or at least me and my little universe) tick over?

I’m not in charge of the world. I think it would be terrifying if I were. Unlimited Viennese truffles for me would be first order but then the real stuff would kick in. I think any world-domination plan/chocolate procurement plan should carefully consider what the values are that underpin the vision that ensues. That’s where is all needs to start.

Now realistically I am never going to rule the world and ethically, having an actual world-domination plan is pretty wrong. However having a think about the values that underpin my vision for teaching, my work and social life is really rather important to me.

So philosophy wasn’t ever my thing but as I’ve got older and done more sociology, its purpose and importance has become part of my professional life as a researcher. How we conceptualise things, how we define knowledge and how we decide what is important are key elements which underpin our education system. Nothing at all is objective; everything passes through the thoughts of some human being, somewhere on the planet and philosophy is about deciding which human being we listen to. And at that point everything becomes very, very cloudy and subjective.

I’ve seen promotions of teacher-assessment, and reports on the strengths of exams, and notes on how recovery curriculums must be robust, academic volumes laced with factoids, or full or time and space for emotional resilience. I see some of the value in all of it because fundamental to my core is that education should not look the same for everyone because everyone is not the same.

For me, we need to really take the time at the moment, in the middle of COVID-19, to remember that education can and should be personal. For some kids exams are the best way for them to show their knowledge, but for others practical demonstrations are needed. Others again work well with a mix. And the underlying philosophy behind that is that there are various forms of knowledge, some of which lie within old-school positivism and others, which sit neatly in a socially constructed box, then there are others which are somewhere in between.

None of these types of knowledge are mutually exclusive and none of the assessment styles to show-case them should be either.

But that would need open-mindedness and flexibility from those-who-decide and we’ve not seen much of that recently.