Pearson’s Five Things I’ve Learned: Andreas Schleicher


I recently bought the OECD publication ‘Education at a Glance 2013‘ to help with a research/market analysis consultancy commission. As a result I appear to be on another mailing list and received  the OECD’s glossy Observer magazine through the post last week. Overall it’s a really good read but the article that I enjoyed the most was ‘Lessons for Educators’ by Andreas Schleicher (which turns out to be his contribution to Pearson’s excellent ‘The Five Things I’ve Learned‘ website).

I have long admired Schleicher’s work at OECD PISA (despite having some doubts about how these statistics are misused by those who want to read too much into them). In my previous role I was delighted to be able to invite Andreas on several occasions as a keynote speaker at the Scottish Learning Festival.

I really like the five things he has learned …

1. In the global economy, the benchmark for
educational success is no longer merely
improvement by local or national standards,
but the best performing education systems

Difficult to argue with this one. The question to my mind is not whether we need to compete but on what basis we want to compete.

2. The skills that are easiest to teach and test
are also the skills that are easiest to
digitize, automate and outsource.

Whilst being able to deploy strategies to memorise facts is a necessary foundation for a good education it is never going to be sufficient. We need to promote and develop higher-order skills cognitive skills and be able to apply our knowledge and understanding to novel contexts that are meaningful in the world beyond school.

3. Deprivation need not be destiny. Equity in
education is also the key to social mobility
and democratizing knowledge.

In my lifetime social mobility has stalled in Scotland, as elsewhere in the UK. But given the right policies and  firm commitment to equity as a priority (neither of which is currently evident) education still has the power to transform lives for the better.

4. Modern education is about enabling
professional autonomy within a
collaborative culture.

Rather than treating teachers as technicians who are expected to ‘deliver’ a curriculum handed-down from on high!

5. There is no future without investment in

There is a future without investment in education,  it just happens to be a very bleak one!

All great stuff and the The Five Things I’ve Learned website is well worth a visit. The final point in this post comes from my good friend Professor Stephen Heppell’s contribution to the website. His fifth point is that ‘education is amazingly complex‘ and as such …

There are a LOT more than 5 things that matter!

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