Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Slow School movement

The "Slow Movement" that started in Italy and comprises, most famously, Slow Food and Slow Cities, is now spreading to education.

The idea of Slow is to counter the rush and hurry in the modern world, and the emphasis on efficiency, by slowing things down, giving them more attention and love, and aiming at quality rather than merely quantity. You can read on Wikipedia about Slow Fashion, Slow Money, Slow Parenting, and even a World Institute of Slowness. In a recent issue The Sower, a magazine for Catholic teachers, Leonie Caldecott and I argued for the concept of "Slow Evangelization".

The application to education is an obvious one. Schools are subject to the same pressures as the rest of modern society – the pressure to churn out good exam results and employable citizens. The old ideals of a liberal arts education for freedom and wisdom have fallen by the wayside. In my two books on education I try to indicate the way this ideal might be reclaimed, and the importance of doing so. I don't explicitly link this approach to the Slow Movement, but it is an obvious next step. The Slow Movement website writes about education here. The article asks:
Where has the education system in schools gone wrong? It started with taking the responsibility for education away from parents and families and making it compulsory for children to go to school. While schools were accountable to the parents and community the education process had some chance of meeting students and community needs. But where governments have acquired central authority over education, education seems to have become a matter of outcomes – standardised test results.
The Times Education Supplement covered the topic on 2 November 2012. Teachers and parents interested in this approach will find much of interest if they pursue these leads.

We need to move away from the "fast food" model of education as quickly as possible.