Cold Distant Data: The Great Political Deception and Money Waster

Data collection in schools to fulfill national standardised testing requirements is a wrong education driver. The results provide cold, non relational information. It is the relationship between students, teachers and parents that requires the greatest focus and attention.

Collecting national data on children, like the Australian Early Development Census, NAPLAN etc will, I believe, turn out to be one of the great deceptions and money wasters of our times. An experienced educator who “reads the child” and gets to know them, will possess more valuable information about that child than can be gleaned from any data collected via standardised national testing. When we focus on the latter, which sucks energy from the human teacher/pupil/class engagement, we go down a dehumanising path of cold statistics.

The intention may be good, but in fact, it has become a costly exercise that doesn’t actually benefit the relationship between child, teacher and class which is the driver of learning. Our current political (forced?) obsession with standardised testing, with results being marked, collated and analysed in distant places, is a complete distraction from the main game. The main game – true human connection and relationship, where the DATA is right in front of the teacher – is being eroded, devalued, defocussed and dissolved by distant politically assigned DATA collecting educrats/testucrats.

Knowing children, their qualities and abilities and how to support their next stage of faculty development IS the real game – the true living interface where learning takes place.

All teachers will tell you they do not need third party data for assessment or planning. Somehow the hierarchy are managing to make them bend to their ill-conceived will. Children are the teachers’ information (DATA) with which they work. We need to empower teachers in their most important and challenging of human relations activities and stop them becoming agents for distant third party number crunchers.

Teaching is slowly becoming paralysed – “paralysis by analysis”, by an unnecessary and unwelcome third party. But yes there are three parties where the relationship ideally needs to be good; child, parents and teachers. Parents will always be the child’s first teacher. Conscious parenting and conscious teaching provide the true human space for learning to take place. Reading the child; understanding the child; knowing how to guide the child; serving the needs of the child’s growth and development – this is the main game of parents and teachers! The knowledge (data) lies in the understanding relationship between them. It always has and it always will. The more our focus goes on DATA collection for the (misguided) missionary zeal of politicians, educrats and testucrats, the more it detracts from the real game of teaching.

PLEASE, STOP THE PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS! It has not worked overseas in the counties we are choosing to follow – England and the US. The answer lies in supporting teachers and parents. We really need to support the human organic living needs of teachers. They need human resources and support to assist with the most human and challenging of vocations – teaching our children, where all the performance data they need is right in front of them. We need to listen to them, respect them and provide them with what they need. Ah yes, cold distant data, the great deception and money waster!

Jonathan Anstock

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