We Are the Robots

First, enjoy some great Kraftwerk, because, and just because:

Regular readers may recall Australian reporter Natasha Bita. Natasha did some really excellent stenographic work for ACARA. Natasha also played right along with AMSI’s most recent Chicken Little crusade. It turns out that Natasha is an excellent stenographer even when there’s nothing to stenograph.

A few days ago Natasha had a report in The Australian (Murdoch, paywalled), titled

Million ‘teen robots’ on path to illiteracy, OECD warns

The “OECD” doing this warning turned out to be one guy: the “education and skills director” of OCED, Andreas Schleicher, better known as Mr. PISA. Natasha’s report was basically a free kick for Mr. PISA to impart his wisdom on Australia’s shiny new curriculum. If anybody can make any sense of Schleicher’s words of wisdom, we’d love to hear it.

Natasha’s report begins,

A global education leader has criticised Australia’s shallow school curriculum for producing “second-class robots’’, as damning new data reveals a million teenagers are on a track to illiteracy over the next five years.

Andreas Schleicher, education and skills director with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, has warned that Australia has “made learning often a mile wide, but just an inch deep’’.

Later, we’re given a sort of clue to Schleicher’s thinking:

Mr Schleicher said the curriculum must teach children to out-think robots, and “think for themselves and collaborate with others’’. He said top-performing education systems “look at the realm of human knowledge, the realm of ethics and judgment, the realm of political and civic life, the realm of creativity, aesthetics, design, of physical health, natural health, economic life’’.

And so? God only knows. Natasha’s entire report is like this: all florid, no flesh. But, with a little patience, one can discern a theme. Early on, Natasha quotes Schleicher:

“The challenge is to teach fewer things at greater depths.”

Then later:

“Teaching fewer things at greater depths is really one of the key challenges.’’

And still later:

“It’s about focus, teaching fewer things at greater depths.”

We are the robots.

9 Replies to “We Are the Robots”

  1. Yep, teach fewer things at greater depths until we teach nothing at the greatest depth.

    (Reminds of educational ‘experts’ – they know more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing).

    It even solves the teacher shortage problem!

    1. Hey, at least this way, there might be some calculus learned…

      That joke was a bit derivative.

      But humor remains an integral part of my existence.

      (I don’t know my limit)

  2. Fewer things? Sure! Here’s my list:

    Math
    English
    Science
    History

    Maybe put some music and art on there, but I wouldn’t want to make my list a mile wide.

  3. “Schleicher” by name and “Schleicher” by nature.
    I believer “Schleicher” means “the slippery one” – from the verb “schleichen” = “to creep silently”.

  4. Is it just me, or do I sense a Dirac delta function marching in this direction?

    We’ll teach zero things at infinite depth! Can’t get more Schleicherish than that.

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