Children: Products or People?

Carlotta penned the title in an excellent post. In New Brunswick (I assume it’s all of Canada, but I only know NB for certain) the current fad in educational theory is something called ‘outcome based learning’.

The ‘idea’ behind outcome based learning is that you define the education based on the qualities (skills) that you want the student to have at the end. And, in so doing, you must be prepared to accept at the beginning any student (any skill level, aptitude, base knowledge). On the surface, it may seem to be a noble undertaking to redesign education so that anyone can take the program of study. But, in reality, the student ceases to be regarded (or even taken into account) as a person. They become a product to the educational program.If they graduate, they are a product of the educational program. The only way to ensure that educators can ensure the predefined outcome is to restructure the educational program in such a way that the student is the object of the process.

Author: Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.

7 thoughts on “Children: Products or People?”

  1. Does outcome based learning take into account what the kids want? In addition to your assessment, this was my first thought on reading the description.

  2. Sam – nope, not a bit. The outcomes have been predetermined by the Dept of Ed. A fancy, noble-sounding name for goals like:
    -increasing test scores (we have one of the worst literacy rates in the country)
    -having all children reading at grade level by Grade 2

    And stressing high achievement and tecnological skills.

  3. Yup. We have outcome-based learning (or is outcome based education) here in Alberta too. It’s one of the reasons we hs lol.

    It absolves the school/teacher/provincial education department from their responsibilities to teach children, since they have to teach only up to and until the “outcome” is met. No challenging, no stretching, and heaven forbid, no “rabbit trails.” Rather like those friends I remember from elementary school who were told to write a one-page composition and would put a period at the bottom of the looseleaf sheet of paper even before writing a word.

  4. Have you ever participated in a course using Moodle? We are using Moodle for our social studies project. The theory behind this open source LMS is social constructivism, which I suspect you might agree with. We put the resources up and the learner/participant partakes of those which they need to construct the knowledge they are seeking. We have a plan (syllabus), but beyond that, the learner decides what they need. HSLDA mentioned us on their high school blog. Our project is at http;//etraining.aretao.com.

    I think OBE is a myth because even when you have a classroom full of nodding heads, you never know what is inside them. 🙂

  5. Well, I usually am cynical, but it reminds me a little of advice I’ve seen in homeschooling circles, before you decide how you’ll homeschool your child, think about what you want for the child. Is your goal to have a happy kid? Is it to produce a college bound kid? A professional? A tradesman? A well-rounded person? An adaptable person? It is often based on what scenario you think is most likely or appropriate. I’m not saying that is the right approach, but it is something parents consider when they start homeschooling their kids. How is that different? I guess the big difference is that the parent is considering what would work for their individual child and not using a cookie cutter method. I often wonder how many employees a school system would have to have in order to give kids the one-on-one they’d need to learn and understand. It might not be a one ot one ratio, but more like one to ten.

  6. I guess a good way to compare the shcools OBE to a homeschooling family is if the parents picked a few goals like “recite all the presidents by age 6” and applied that and other goals (even your examples) to ALL their children. Equally.

    Yeah, I think schools would probably function somewhat better if the ratio was 1:10, but I’d be scared to think how much administration they would think they needed.

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