Learning Objectives: failure or saviour?
I was debating whether to use this title or Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watcher?), the latter title only explains why Learning Objectives is currently failing the education system in the UK.
Learning Objectives define what a learner should learn, the objective of a particular piece of work. For example by the end of a lesson the learner should be able to understand how to substract one number from another or how to multiply, but a true learning objective does not state how this should be achieved only what should be achieved. This is particularly useful in education because it gives teachers a target for a learner to achieve, but should give the teacher and the learner the freedom in how to reach it, everybody learns in their own way (individual learning styles).
However, what appears to be happening is that the UK educational authorities are miscontruing what Learning Objectives mean. Now I’m open to arguement on this, but I’ve heard of various tales where children at schools are expected know verbatim what their learning objectives are and by its code! If the children don’t the school fails an inspection. To take another example an academic colleague of mine (who works in an acdemic establishment researching and helping to set educational policy) complained that when they asked their son what they did at art in school that day their son responded oh “I’m at level 4a”. The big question is what value, if any, does this have? Having to learn a set of learning objectives is like learning your times tables, but while being able to do mental arithmetic is useful, knowing your learning objectives by heart is not. Particularly if by the time you leave school you no longer have need of them. From another point of view learning the ‘learning objectives’ takes up time, time one would have thought better spent learning the actual objective.
Hence my original Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? At the moment this is attitude to learning objectives is being propagated by Ofsted, but who’s watching them? This attitude towards learning objectives by Ofsted may not be the case across all schools, but if it does differ then it indicates that Ofsted has differing standards between its inspectors and therefore its inspection reports are not reliable.
… but I did say I’m open to argument. Let me know your thoughts.