Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hall of mirrors

My target for today is to write about targets. If this is successfully achieved then I can be safe in the knowledge that I have met my targets! This is the sort of hall of mirrors effect that the current fad of reducing learning to specific and achievable targets breeds. The setting and achieving of targets is foregrounded and there is little questioning of the appropriateness or the relevance of the learning itself, nor for that matter an openness to the unpredicted, incidental or otherwise unmeasurable learning that might occur. In schools children's learning (in all its vastness) is reduced to a target - a target which contributes to a sub-level - which in turn contributes to levelled progress, which somehow represents an education. I just marked a student assignment that identified a personal target of setting more targets! So a mindset is produced which is replicated with seven year olds in the school system. This has an insidious effect on literacy education when the targets themselves focus on things like knowing the difference between fiction and non-fiction, using a range of connectives in writing, and choosing more inteteresting words. Not that there is anything wrong with knowing these things of course, but the complete atomisation of lannguage, learning and literacy that can occur is a real cause for concern. I'm targetting this reductive view of learning. But I'm also interested in the provenance of 'target culture' and what the target metaphor itself invokes.

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