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I keep picturing a sausage machine... - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 13th, 2013

09:14 am - I keep picturing a sausage machine...

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As seen on some fic this morning:

"Cullen kicked his pants off and came across the room."

I really hope they mean that he walked across the room.

*ahem*

Oh and in other news, for those of you who know her, Sally's Clydesdale mare just had her foal. I have no info other than that but WHEE BABY CLYDESDALES!


Thanks to all who offered cakes, files and various combinations thereof for my entertainment yesterday. Special thanks to villagecharm whose suggestion of imagining all my companions as werewolves was especially useful, particularly concerning the guy sitting next to me who looked just like Jack Black.

Oddly, there was also someone there who was the spitting image of meathiel. And yes, she did catch me staring at her and yes it was awkward. O.o

In terms of the outcome, I won't bore you with the details but the whole day was filled with buzzwords that could be thematically analysed and rearranged into a slogan. Which is how I'm going to present my report, because my directive for the day was to pick out the subtext and report on that rather than the explicit information.

The day did culminate in a speech from the Minister though, and my note on that was "The higher the level of the speaker, the less they actually say." Also this: "Hekia sees education as an international competition with the long view that we sell licences to our qualifications and programmes as an export. She would like us to get on board."

I have reservations about the commodification of education, but the way they are going about it might have some fallout benefits for learners. Because if it doesn't work you can't sell it. However, given that what we would be selling is a way of producing productive workers to meet the needs of business, and that I'm reasonably well versed in the perpetuation of ideology through the education system, I'm really really giving this scheme the side-eye.

It is basically designed to channel people into a 'vocational pathway' from an early age. Remember the hoo-hah about National Standards and the measurement and comparison of kids' achievement in primary school? Partly, that was about the way in which a particular student could be pushed into a particular mould early, and then the rest of their education would be tailored around the idea that that's what they would continue to learn and do. At the end, after they've done Trade Academies and Youth Guarantee and all the other things that are in place, they would pop out the end as well-moulded worker whose entire education has been built around meeting the needs of an employer in a career that was decided for them in primary school.

And you can bet that those decisions will only include vocational pathways that work to further the interests of whatever government is currently in power.

Which is good in that it will likely result in work-ready young people who might find it easier to get jobs (by the way, where are the job creators again?). It might provide options for people who currently don't have a lot.

But I can't help but think how neatly that all fits into the neoliberal, business-oriented agenda of our current government, and how it seems to view kids as workers-to-be without agency of their own. I would have been pissed off if at 12 I was told I was going to be X, Y or Z - that my school results had shown I had aptitude at say, woodworking and not so much at English, so therefore I was going to be sent to a Trade Academy to learn how to build houses. And I can't imagine many kids being rapt at the idea of having only two options (university for the smart ones, trades for the rest), both of which are designed to churn out a cookie-cutter labour force that's tailored to be used as a commodity.

Especially given the other developments around labour outside of the education system - the manipulation of employment law to reduce workers' rights to the advantage of employers, the slow creep of various forms of invasive testing that are designed to screen out those who might object to their rights being eroded prior to employment, thus creating a malleable workforce; the disempowerment of unions.. the list goes on. And now we have an education system that's designed to meet the needs of business by viewing kids as proto-workers who must be trained from day one to

meet the needs of business.

Dunno about you, but that's not my goal in life. However, it does have the potential for value as an export, I guess.

Anyway, that's what I took away from yesterday. And I find it vaguely disturbing.


But Hekia is an enthusiastic and engaging speaker, and I can see how she gets away with pushing distasteful agendas because she made it sound like the best thing since sliced bread. Or, her speech writer did. There were no questions at the end, because I couldn't think of anything to ask that I could say while representing my organisation. *ahem*

Now I have to go write a report. I am allowed to let my cynicism show through. Another reason I like my job. ;-)

PS turns out my post about the Roast Busters thing got linked at The Ruminator. They called it a 'searing and smart rebuke'. I'm flattered, even if I think that's a little over the top. Gosh.

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:November 12th, 2013 11:31 pm (UTC)
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yeah, when they leave the person, the people out of the equation it all becomes about units of output.. which is just wrong..

o.O

also yay the Ruminatory, and searing and smart you so are!!

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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
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I can see where they are coming from, and don't necessarily thing it's a bad thing that they are wanting to make our education system internationally desirable. And remembering that this is the same ideology that believes in trickle-down economics, it's at least internally consistent. But the motivation is, IMO, very wrong, and I fear for those who don't fit the mould that is being created.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC)
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yeh i never fitted that mould, it is unconformable and i don't know any of the stepps.. usally i just fall and land places..

yeah.. the currently way needs to be... altered.. or maybe broken.. *ponders this* or at the very least given a new focus like i don't know actual people true and whole.. with all of their complexities...

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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:54 am (UTC)
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I think making our education system focus on learning and thinking rather than a vocational goal might be a good start. Are we teaching people to be thinking citizens, or are we teaching them to be good workers for the system?

People are perfectly capable of working out what they are interested in and talented at, given the opportunity. I'm leery of any 'education' system that focuses on vocational training as early as primary school.
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From:t_c_da
Date:November 13th, 2013 01:53 am (UTC)
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These so-called intelligent folk don't seem to realise that teaching kids how to learn new stuff is far more useful than pumping them full of information that will most likely be obsolete before they even get a job.

I did university education (sort of) in the early 60s and what was taught then was obsolete before the decade was over, and things have accelerated somewhat since then. My cellphone has a $10 memory chip that is 87,000 times the size of the first computer I earned a living on (a CDC 3200 which cost AUD1.25Million in 1964 and did the computing for 4 government departments), and that memory chip is 5 years old and now unobtainable (2Gb microSD anyone?). My cellphone has more computing power than they used to put men on the moon and it's not even a smartphone!

But have you tried getting a plumber these days?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 02:04 am (UTC)
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Oh, they know. But critical thinking citizens as an educational outcome does not fit into an ideology that requires a 'flexible workforce'. Also, it costs money. Much easier to teach kids to do as they are told without question than to participate in Socratic dialogue. At least, in classrooms of 30+ it is...

Meanwhile, the lack of tradespeople in this country is almost directly attributable to the scrapping of apprencticeships during the reign of the last neoliberal government in the 80s and 90s. Trades were seen as not part of our 'intelligence economy' and kids were mostly encouraged to go to university. Apprenticeships and formally-recognised trade qualification support was really only reinstated in the early 2000s, and many of the people graduating from those did it straight into the next recession (and neoliberal government) and buggered off to Australia where they had a chance of a well-paid job.

There's a noticeable gap in my industry between the 'oldies' who are approaching retirement and got the Trade Cert qualification, and the 'youngies' who have the National Certificate and/or Builder Licence. There is a dearth of middle-aged people in the industry. Funny that.
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From:tieke
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:00 am (UTC)
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And add to that the restriction of access to support for tertiary education to only younger age groups...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
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In some respects that's understandable given the figures relating to unemployment across age groups vs the 'saleability' of an education system - but only if you buy into the neoliberal ideology of our current government. Target-focused state is targeting, etc.

I definitely give them 10/10 for pragmatism and consistency in operationalisation of ideology. Just, not for egalitarianism, equality of opportunity or humanitarian priorities.

And don't get me started on commodification of social goods.
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From:kehleyr
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
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"Cullen kicked his pants off and came across the room."

I really hope they mean that he walked across the room.
LMAO!!!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:34 am (UTC)
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Seriously, my mental picture required brain bleach. ;-)
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From:kehleyr
Date:November 13th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
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Haha mine needs some as well haha
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From:dianavilliers
Date:November 13th, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
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I was wondering how that hooked in with "Sausage Machine".
Which may just be my new band name.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 03:54 am (UTC)
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It didn't to start with, but now you've planted the idea...

OMG
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From:meathiel
Date:November 13th, 2013 08:07 am (UTC)
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Huh? I've got a doppelgänger? Damn ...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Apparently you do. She is very nice. ;-)
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From:brynhilda
Date:November 13th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
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OMG, I LOVE Clydesdales...I need photos :)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 13th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)
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Done! ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 18th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC)
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In the US, kids get channelled into a certain "track" by first grade if not even kindergarten. Once you are put in with the "fast readers" or the "slow readers" you are pretty much locked into that path all the way into high school. And of course for those unfortunate slow readers, they will never be allowed to take college prep or honours courses which means they are unlikely to gain university admittance straight from high school. Meanwhile if you were a fast reader but there is one subject you aren't as good at, you aren't allowed to take a different level just for the one subject so you get farther and farther behind.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 20th, 2013 07:47 am (UTC)
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That sounds bloody horrible. I got bumped up a class or two because I was reading ahead of my age, but nobody decided my career for me until at least 13 years old.
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 20th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I got lucky that I moved a lot, but I was also supposed to be bumped up by two grades. I got into the wrong math stream once and then never quite recovered...not that it matter because our high school math was pretty awful hence the remedial classes I am doing now. Since honours students couldn't take *gasp* college prep math, many of the other honours students took it during the summer, but I was too busy taking other things so I could cram in more college classes (they were free while you were in highschool so I was pretty motivated)
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