A wicked educational problem is one that has no solution in the given school context, and which can, at best, be managed. Intractable ‘wicked’ problems abound in all walks of life, and school is no exception. Examples include:
- Bullying – between national and local government education departments, between local government and schools, between staff, between staff and pupils and between pupils.
- Large mixed ability classes – a disproportionate amount of time and resource is given to dealing with ‘challenging’ pupils and to ensuring that the most able are stretched, while the bulk of middle range ability pupils remain semi invisible.
- Unsupportive parental influence, unsupportive peer influence and problematic social contexts leading to negative behaviour dynamics and straining pupil-teacher relations.
There is no solution to any of these age-old problems. Their effective management can reduce their impact, but the problem still remains. All of these problems have their root on wider society, where they are endemic.
However, school, as a microcosm of society, is easier to change than society as a whole. And if enough schools can make the necessary changes society will start to shift too, and the prospect of addressing wicked social problems may start to improve. This would generate a positive dynamic of increasing momentum between school and society.
Implementing community focused PSHE using social networking and underpinned by a pedagogy of critical consciousness (as described by Freire) is probably our best chance of affecting the kind of changes needed.
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Stay in tune.