Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How Pisa's Narrow Focus 'Squeezes Out' Creativity

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

How Pisa's Narrow Focus 'Squeezes Out' Creativity

Article excerpt

Education guru condemns lack of breadth in global comparisons

He has built a career jetting around the globe advising governments on how to improve their education systems. But now Sir Ken Robinson has criticised the world's most trusted league tables, which allow countries to compare their schools.

Sir Ken is one of the biggest names on the international education scene. He has written a New York Times best-seller and his work with governments in Asia, Europe and the US allows him to command five-figure sums for speaking commitments.

And yet the former professor of education at the University of Warwick in England has hit out at the hugely influential Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) for being too narrow in its focus.

Governments around the world are increasingly turning to the Pisa league tables to justify policy changes designed to raise standards, with ministers in England regularly using the country's modest standing in the maths, reading and science tests to justify reforms. But Sir Ken believes Pisa's focus on just three subjects is to the detriment of other, more creative areas, which are being "squeezed out".

In a video interview for the Core of Education website, the self-proclaimed champion of creativity in schools questioned whether governments were placing too much emphasis on international comparisons.

"Nowadays, countries tend to scrutinise each other's education policies like their defence policies," Sir Ken said in the interview, which took place ahead of the annual conference of leadership organisation ASCD in Los Angeles earlier this month. "I'm all for making sensible data available for people looking around at what other countries are doing. The trouble is these particular league tables are focused on a very narrow conception of education.

"It's mainly about literacy, numeracy and science, and of course these are very important. But the upshot is a lot of other very important areas of education, that matter just as much, are being squeezed out."

Sir Ken (pictured below) pointed to countries such as Finland, which performed very well in the Pisa tests but also "celebrated diversity, creativity and the importance of teachers". …

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