A dangerous game

There's a dangerous game they play in Cyprus. It's called Meze, and it's far more brutal than the Spanish Tapas equivalent. The game goes like this: There are two teams: the eating team and the waiter team. The waiter team tries to beat the eating team into submission by delivering a constant supply of small dishes, containing far more food than they are ever likely to need in a full calendar month. It begins innocuously, with a few plates of pitta bread, humus and tzatziki. The eating team is lulled into a false sense of security. This is nice, they think, we can do this. Then more dishes begin to arrive at an alarming rate.

As the eating team finishes one dish, it is removed and three more replace it. The goal of the waiter team is to fill the table up so completely with food that there is no room left, and the eating team has no choice but to eat their way out to safety. But the game is a fix. No matter how much the eating team consume, there are always more dishes arriving. Kebabs, eggplants, grilled cheese, prawns, skewered meat, fried octopus - you name it, it all arrives far too quickly. There is a sadistic streak in the waiter team. Even when the eating team has had enough, the waiting team continue to deliver knockout blows, placing even more food directly on to their plates. Eventually, and inevitably, the eating team are writhing in extreme agony on the floor clutching their stomachs and yelling 'Enough! We surrender!' The end of the game is signalled by the waving of a white napkin, and then you can observe the smug grins on the faces of the waiter team, who look at each other and nod knowingly. Yes, we have defeated yet another group of tourists with our clever food manoeuvres. Our job is done.

This got me thinking that many of the world's education systems are a little like the eating game of Meze. We pile the students plates high with content. Content of every kind is presented to be consumed, and the poor students don't stand a chance. Many are overwhelmed by the amount of content they need to learn, and the pace at which they have to learn it. Even while they are struggling their way through an overburdened 'just in case' curriculum, still more content continues to arrive at an alarming pace. Some learners cry out for mercy, but they are still compelled to consume the content, because later, they are required to regurgitate it in an examination to obtain their grades. The examinations bear no resemblance to that which will be required of them in the real world. No wonder so many wish to leave the table early. What can teachers do to obviate this problem? Some are making a difference, reinterpreting the curriculum they are given by enabling activities and creating resources that facilitate student centred learning. Learning at one's own pace, and in a manner that suits the individual will overcome some of the problems of overload, but more needs to be done. Things are changing, but they are changing slowly, too slowly for many people's tastes. It's a dangerous game we are playing in education. Isn't it about time we stopped?

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Guy said…
Food for thought!
teachernz said…
Good analogy. We need to stop force feeding kids/students and help them become Gordon Ramseys. Let them pick the best ingredients and create their own culinary masterpieces.

David Hopkins said…
Being able to mix your own education is, to some extent, what is being done at Bournemouth with the Media School 'Mix Tape' Masters qualification: http://mixtape.bournemouth.ac.uk/mix.html

Not necessarliy the kind of material I want for my future studies, but an indication that it is possible if you try.

All the best, David

PS. check out eh FAQ page for a list of the resulting MA qualifications, depending on the choices you make on Units/Modules to study.
Terry said…
Good analogy, Steve. I've referred to this article here: http://www.ictineducation.org/home-page/2012/2/23/5-ways-to-develop-critical-thinking-in-ict.html

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