There is a lot of shallowness within education. We go over the top on data that all too often measures superficial outcomes. Testing, measurement and assessment are tools used to hold teachers accountable. When formal accountability and systemic assessment are upheld as having paragon status, too little attention is paid to deep learning priorities and needs.
From time to time the issue of deep learning is discussed, but one wonders whether it is understood.
Depth understanding is an outcome of teaching that penetrates deeply into the waters of learning, instilling concepts, values and those important qualities on which human development is founded. That approach takes time and cannot be confirmed by immediate assessment. Frog hopping is about leaping unthinkingly from one fashionable and highly visible learning initiative to the next. Its focus is following innovations, trends and the latest educational ideas for no other reason than they are new. It is the show business side of education, often promoted by developers and marketers of brand new materials.
Educational focus is too often about gurus who fashion curriculum and shape learning trends. System leaders are encouraged to adopt new trends, because design can be alluring. They want to be seen as ‘in sync’ with the latest trend. Gurus lead and systems follow. Schools, classroom teachers and students are in the vanguard.
Frog hopping, that is blindly following trends, is tantamount to being lead by the nose. There is a need for change and development. However, change for changes sake leads to destabilisation within schools. Shallow, superficial learning ought not to be the norm. We need deep teaching and reflective holistic learning outcomes.
Denying depth learning
Learning should be academically focussed. Students need cognitive development. Curriculum requirements are wide ranging, constantly changing and increasingly demanding in terms of challenges placed on teachers. Teachers confirm they don’t have time to adequately cover the syllabus brief. Teaching strategies that tend to skim the surface rather than encouraging deep learning become normative. There is just no time to explore concepts in depth.
Schools and their staff members are constantly bombarded with mandates requiring countless initiatives to be absorbed into school curriculum. When seen not to be jumping in response to these demands, school leaders and teachers cop heaps including major media shellacking. Shortcomings are laid squarely at the school door and on staff shoulders.
The proliferation of short-term and rapidly offered initiatives, together with the lack of opportunity for deep learning leads me to believe that a great deal of ‘curriculum initiative’ comes about because politicans, academics and others regard schools as experimental and testing fields. Schools become a repository for the trialling of bright ideas. No wonder teachers come to regard themselves and their students as guinea pigs. In the interest of students and a viable educational future, this philosophy must be abandoned and deep learning opportunity reinstated.