The results of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 tests are being made public today. I have very little interest in the test results themselves – they have little to do with real learning. But I am fascinated by the assumptions and discussions surrounding PISA as they give an insight into the dysfunctional nature of much contemporary educational discourse.
This first post relating to PISA reflects some thoughts arising out of reading a Guardian article last week about Andreas Schleicher, the man responsible for PISA. He seems to be very proud of his catch-phrase: "Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.” But here’s another neat catch-phrase:
"WITH data, you are just another person with a spreadsheet.”
We are drowning in data these days. Yet how much of this data really helps us to addresses important questions about real learning? Serious doubts have been raised about the statistical methodology behind PISA. But the problems go much further than this. As the Guardian article suggests, there is real danger in “the imperatives of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control”.
Both spreadsheets and opinions can be useful, but if I had to ditch one or the other, I would rather hang on to my opinions than my spreadsheets.