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Well, the assumption that there are "outputs that *everyone* agrees on and wants" is problematic as is the notion that "We", whoever Pinder's we are, can "help education to understand what it needs to do". I believe the argument proceeds from false axioms based on an implicit assumption of the social primacy of the "captains of industry". Elsewhere I commented on Chris Yapp's similar take on education. The general urge of industrialists appears to be to reduce the number of nodes of control in all parts of society, and then to control them. This control might be exercised tacitly and with subtlty or explicitly with brute force. We are fortunate to live in a land where subtle persuasion works reasonably well. However, despite years of asserting new "post-Fordist" or "post-Taylorian" models of industrial organisation, there is an atavism to the captains-of-industry approach of those who advocate education based on industrial models. If, as Pinder asserts, we "don't even know what we are measuring" and "might even be measuring the wrong thing", how can he be so sure that we are being inefficient or ineffective? He, in effect, calls on education to find the right evidence to support an unexpressed policy driver. This is another manifestation of policy-based evidence and practice rather than evidence-based policy and practice, where the policy has to be interpreted because it is unexpressed.

I do not want to appear as though I reject the notion of control per se nor buy into a simplistic rhetoric of freedom. Scott Wilson argues persuasively here that we need a cybernetic analysis of control "...combined with an analysis of social and political power."

Pinder points towards vested 'professional' interests as the pinch point when it comes to progress and he's right. This is exactly the sort of person we need at BECTA.

He is right to point towards a lack of evidence and poor measurement. Education and training is clearly stuck in modes of astounding inefficiency when compared with other areas of human endeavour.

Every teacher/lecturer/tutor/trainer seems determined to design every act of learning. This often comes down to ill-prepared lessons and scrappy classroom delivery. Until we have a recognition that we create once, publish many times, we'll be stuck with an expensive, artisan approach to education.

The lack of shared resources and practices is also astonishing. Every school, college and university sees every other institution as its enemy, when all are publically funded.

Even within an institution the entire organisation closes down in response to a 19th century agricultural calendar.

Captains of industry are not the font of all knowledge, but the commercial world has been successful in designing and implementing change management, quality control, effective menagement structures, efficiencies through the use of technology and the elimination of the duplication of effort.

Marxist rhetoric about industry wanting to control everything has had its day. We're mostly parents who work in organisations that have impelmented efficient practice and want something sensible done for our children, not idealogues.

PS
His side swipe at white boards is spot on - it's the perfect symptom of bending to the will of the dominant group - teachers, and the dominant model - classroom teaching. It has simply enhanced a victorian model that is no longer working (the blackboard was introduced around 1870).

Agree with the PS; and with Pinder's view that putting masses of ICT capital into schools without changing the way provision is organised was bound to lead to a lot of the spending being wasted. Ditto the emphasis on giving schools small pots of earmarked money to spend in dribs and drabs on educational software, or on small-scale VLE procurement. But, cracked record point, unless three of the main levers for change in the education system: inspection, funding/audit, and assessment/accreditation are all pulled at once, and in the same direction, so that consistent pressure for change is put on institutions, then any amount of "organising industrially" will come to nowt. And an emphasis on "organising industrially" can turn attention from the "free culture" movement (Wikipedia, Open Source, Open Access etc. etc.), instead concentrating attention too much on a "procurement culture", in which learning materials or systems are deemed to be irrelevant if they've not been bought by someone.

So which industry are we talking about? Farepak? Enron? Halliburton? Railtrack? Once every five years political leaders say we need to ensure that education and training serves the needs of industry. Apart from the cynical view that serving industry's needs does not appear to improve the lot of humanity overmuch, one might add that, by the time education and training have reorganised to meet those needs, the needs appear to have changed. And, anyway, let's be honest, this new world of industrial organisation is for other people's children; unless the revolution is applied to every sector and every institution it will be the usual hollow class-based mess.

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