"Cullen kicked his pants off and came across the room."
I really hope they mean that he walked across the room.
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.