Keynote: How education gets in the way of learning

Geoff Masters

Abstract

The formal structures and processes of school education – including the organisation of the school curriculum, processes for assessing student learning, methods of reporting performance, and the uses to which student results are put – are often inconsistent with what is now known about the best ways to promote human learning. Rather than being designed to maximise every student’s learning, these structures and processes often reflect 20th century priorities, including the use of school education to sort and select students into different education and training destinations, and future careers. This sorting function of schooling is becoming increasingly irrelevant in knowledge economies that now look to their school systems to provide every student with high levels of knowledge, understanding and skill, including skills in critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, using new technologies, and working collaboratively with others. The challenge is to ensure that every student reaches the levels currently achieved by only some. However, the structures and processes of today’s schools are often poorly designed to meet this challenge.

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