Friday, November 11, 2005

Testing blitz in reading reforms (winners and loses?)

Here is the next article on the National Literacy Inquiry debacle.

It makes sense doesn't it? If we want young children to learn to read, we make sure we test them before they begin school and then every year after that. That way they can learn early on whether or not they have a future. No need to waste time and resources on the ones that are dumb. After all some are winners and others losers. That's just the way it is. All that fluffy talk about 'reaching for the stars' and 'acheiving your goals' doesn't do anyone any good. Better to just accept the hand that's dealt to you.

If this sounds a little rough, then get on over to Andrew Bolt's column today 'Losing is real life'. I'm a little disappointed that his argument about winning and losing and personal value is so weak and ill thought through. He uses the example of a singer being voted off 'Australian Idol' as if this is due only to the singer's musical ability/talent/competitiveness not being up to the mark. He says this is an important lesson to learn. That some are winners and some are losers and that's just the way it is. He doesn't seem to see the irony in his mentioning that his own son adored this particular singer, not for his ability but for his dreadlocks.

Might it be possible then that other people felt the same way? That they too based their decision to vote this performer off the show, not due to his inferior singing ability, but because of a variety of other reasons? (that he was a white guy? not as attractive as the others? not 'star' material? not an object of attraction for the demographic that votes on these types of shows?) It seems that the fact that competitions like 'Australian Idol' are not about ability or skills, or talent or anything akin to it has been lost on Bolt. Could it be that shows like this work as popularity contests rather than measures of ability or talent? That instead of a display about real talent and ability of performers, they are measures of audience desire (and prejudice)? That the real competition is about popularity and (media constructed) image? About measuring up to the very ideal or model of a young adored performer? Good looking, tanned, healthy, selling potential. Is this what winnnig means, Mr Bolt?

(Readers might remember the winner of Idol a year ago was a larger girl - overweight, 'alternative' and not a traditional beauty. In her post idol career she's been overshadowed by the runner up in the same year, and he meets all the popstar requirements - she's been turfed out and the real winner has been put in her place. While she won the popular vote, she was abviously not 'Australia's new Idol' and not someone whom the media and music industry could bank on).

In arguing that this performer (back to the present year) was voted off the show simply because he was not good enough, Bolt not only shows his ignorance of how the media machine really works, but becomes party to perpetuating its myths.

I might even suggest that if he does understand (which I actually would prefer to believe for his sake) then the situation is even worse. He has appropriated a shallow and weak argument simply to have a go at teachers and educators, who, understand by personal experience just has he might, (teachers are parents and have children too after all!) that teaching (indirectly or otherwise) kids that some are winners and some losers and 'you had just better accept that and move on' is a crime, perhaps as much as planning a terrorist attack.



At 9:31 am, Blogger phd me said...

What? You expect someone to be judged on actual talent and skill? Silly, silly man....

At 5:46 pm, Blogger Scott said...

me or him? ;)

Well, me AND him!


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