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November 06, 2002
Bad news – but some good stuff

So I just typed "Education" into Google, and I got 72,200,000 hits, which took Google 0.13 seconds. There isn't going to any shortage of guff for me, and any others I can inveigle into writing for this, to investigate.

Let's take the hits I got from the top.

HIT ONE: A story from New Zealand, which had disappeared from view by the time I got around to testing the link. The government has "privatized" a lot of education down there, and some of the money being sloshed about is being pocketed by scamsters. Many providers, but still the same old paymaster. So "tighter control" is needed.

HIT TWO: A story about the fact that lots of Ethiopians have been going to live in Israel, which tells me something I'd been neglecting to notice about how Jews have been getting along in Ethiopia.

For the first time since the massive immigration from Ethiopia over the last 18 years, the Ministry of Education has prepared a curriculum for teacher [sic] the Amharik language for Bagrut matriculation exams.

Sounds like someone could use a bit of English teaching as well.

According to Israel Radio, a committee for teaching Amharik has been set up in the Education Ministry. It is headed by an expert on African language at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

HIT THREE: Aids Education Fails to Change Behaviour.

... HIV/AIDS education in schools in Sub-Saharan Africa has failed to effect behaviour change despite high levels of knowledge among primary and secondary school pupils.

Researchers at the University of Sussex ...

HIT FOUR: A visit to the website of the US Department of Education. "When it comes to the education of our children … failure is not an option." - signed, President George W. Bush.

"No Child Left Behind." That has got to be as insane a political promise as any politician has ever given, anywhere, ever. What, not one?

I dig deeper, and visit the No Child Left Behind Website. Now, let me see if I can copy this pompous piece of verbiage from the U.S. Secretary of Education. Yes and no. Got a juicy piece of graphics into my word document, but then I'd have to upload it to my whosadaisy. That's a manoevre that will have to wait. The U.S. Secretary of Education said something about how the No Child Left Behind program was making history.

HIT FIVE: EducationWorld® The Educator's Best Friend. Warrrrrgh!! A website that looks like a graphic design studio has been sick all over the screen. What did Google say on the hit list?

... What was special about yesterday? EEK – Environmental Education for Kids: Explore the great outdoors! ... Education Humor Newsletter: Sign up now. ... Description: A comprehensive resource which includes a search engine for thousands of educational resources.

Back to the sicky mess website. It starts to make sense.

Today's Lesson: Put turkey on a table (or a graph)! Show turkey population, production, and consumption statistics.

How Toxic is Your School?: Causes, effects vary for sick schools.

Yes, you don't want to kill all your students.

But hello, what's this?

What about the Act's requirement that new middle school teachers have completed an academic major in the subject area they will be teaching? This occasional series answers questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

That again. Another logo, saying "No Educator Left Behind". Question. What if a good teacher stops being a teacher at all, because of not having completed and not wanting to complete an "academic major"?


Okay, conclusions. All of these hits except the last one are about what governments are doing, or should be doing, or are not doing. Only HIT FIVE contains much actual stuff to help you do education, and even this is interfered with by its Federal Government.

News means bad news. And if you want bad news, put the government in charge of everything. HIT ONE is politically inflicted disaster. A political promise playing itself out, and we're quite deep into the story.

HIT TWO is the government reacting, rather late in the day, to something that has already happened in the world out there, in this case all these Ethiopian folks. But don't tell me there are no Ethiopian lessons already going on Israel. Memo to Israel Government. Relax. Let nature take its course. You don't need to do anything. Don't you have other things to be concerned about?

HIT THREE is another disaster. The best you can say for the politicians is that they didn't create it. But they sure as hell aren't solving it either, although I bet they contributed to it.

HIT FOUR is a disaster in the making, but we are witnessing the very beginning of it, the bright shining dawn. No child left behind! Six years from now, expect the news to be about all the children being left behind, and all the further behind because of what the government is now doing.

Only HIT FIVE concerns actual education, being done by some actual people with stuff to help you do it, but it's not news, it's just a website. Go there and you can explore, e.g., E-LEARNING RESOURCES FOR EDUCATORS. Some of that looks like it might be quite good. Hey. If your family has an internet connection and a printer, you don't need a school anymore!

The politicians give out booming press releases about how great everything is going to be, but then as soon as it goes wrong the press releases are about how we are all letting them down, and failing, and cheating, and not changing our behaviour. Meanwhile we the people – the lucky ones amongst us at any rate - are, rather more quietly and less newsworthily, getting on with our lives.

And show me a government that is ready to tell me about any one of 72,200,000 things that relate to what I've just asked about, after only 0.13 seconds. Nah, nothing special about that. That's not news.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:12 AM
Category: Technology
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