Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
In what has all the appearances of a wrap-up, the Canadian Council on Learning's 'Taking Stock' report is intended "to consolidate our key findings, insights and recommendations, and report back to Canadians on where progress has been made and which areas are still in need of improvement." The CCL continues to urge changes to Canada's education system. "As we stand still," writes CCL president Paul Cappon, "we are losing ground. We insisted bluntly that Canada put its house in order. We described the consequences of failing to recognize the urgency to act." It's a difficult point to make, as Canada is demonstrating strength and improvement across the board - a fact that CCL reconciles by calling it a "paradox" that reform is still needed. What do they say we need? Well, the usual - "appropriate measures to provide greater understanding of quality... a comprehensive framework for accessing the quality of our PSE..."

What the CCL doesn't explain is why Canada needs to embrace these reforms. CCL has had, almost from the outset, it seems, the wrongheaded idea that you could create quality by measurement. It's as though they wish to emulate the reforms taking place south of the border - reforms, however, that do not mark an improving educational system, but rather one that is middle of the pack and continuing to decline. We know what happens when we put the economists in charge of the educational system; we have seen it fail elsewhere. We should continue, as we have in Canada, to leave the educators in charge. The evidence simply does not support CCL's argument that we need major reforms - indeed, supposing that it does results in a paradox.

CCL's data has been made available online. Ironically, "most of the data CCL relies on is obtained from Statistics Canada."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 10:10 a.m.