The Corrupt Generation

Sadly, this was another week of head scratching, doom and gloom as people were confronted with the unpalatable results of the latest survey on corruption worldwide – this time shared by the BBC:

BBC Chart on World Corruption

The reality is the data is very very bad …. and it’s getting worse. A generation worldwide that probably had more access to education than any generation before, where that education talked more than ever about values, ethics and morality are showing all the evidence of being the most corrupt, immoral generation of people that has ever lived.

There are many conclusions that people can draw, many ideas that can be expounded about what is needed to deal with this issue. Some advocate more controlling and dominating legal mechanisms, more ‘law and order’. However, as an educator, one conclusion I draw is that schools need to acknowledge that they may be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

Firstly, the vast majority of schools in the world are still run along lines driven by adult control of children, extraneous motivation and discipline – the carrot and the stick, and driven by interpersonal competition more than collaboration. Then, all of that gets capped off with beliefs that suggest that everything to be learned must be taught. Thus, when we thing there’s a values issue to address – someone draws up a ‘Values Syllabus’. If all that wasn’t bad enough children especially in private schools in South Asia and this part of the world grow up hearing and sensing enough to know that schools are environments of low trust, breaches of promise, immoral self-interest and even corruption.

We all hear the stories (and also know that invariably the culprits get away completely free) – under the table money at admissions time, exam cheating with teacher assistance, teachers who do tutoring who threaten children with failure if they don’t buy their tutoring services, embezzlement in schools procurement, victimisation by teachers, bullying by teachers, physical abuse …. the list can go on.

I would hazard that, instead we need strategies that seek to change these things, but more so we open up the internal workings of schools to make the good and the moral and the ethical transparent and understandable to the children as a part of their learning opportunity.

a) Less discipline, less control and less focus on extraneous motivation right from early years education (quit with the smileys, stars and sweeties as rewards for compliant behaviour!
b) Well enunciated vision, mission and core values of the Institute that are a continual part of student-educator discussion, debate and on which every stakeholder has the right to hold every other stakeholder accountable,
c) Zero tolerance for the presence of those in the profession who are not able to contribute to a high-trust, ethical community environment. Looking the other way or shrugging our shoulders no longer an acceptable response to the presence of the bad elements in education.
d) Focus on learning, assessment for learning, reducing the significance of standardised testing and summative assessment of learning.
e) True differentiation of learning through personalisation by harnessing the powers of IT, with educators as facilitators rather than deliverers of memorizable content. This would have the effect of activating children’s internal motivation, bringing them in touch with the relevance of their learning to their wider life.
f) Make our schools true learning communities where the common, shared goals are about every citizen learning, every citizen moving forward and the individual and collective needs in harmony.

I believe if we do these things there’s a greater chance that our children will grow up understanding the benefits they can carry forward in to a wider world of integrity, trust and shared interests. Perhaps they can then show the way as an integrity generation. It can’t be worse than what was created in our generation.

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