“That is the secret of happiness and virtue — liking what you’ve got to do.”
– Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Frederick Winslow Taylor was the father of Scientific Management. He was primarily concerned with the engineering of processes and management in organisations. Taylor’s work helped influence Henry Ford and the development of the production line and consequently the whole concept of mass production.
Scientific Management, or Ford’s application of it – Fordism – is celebrated by those living in the dystopia of Brave New World. Everything – everything – from the reproduction of human beings to their careers, love lives and even deaths, is managed as a Fordist, production line-based eco-system. The human being is ultimately a resource – made, processed, operated until failure, then recycled.
Today, we are in the midst of Fordism being applied to education, at all stages. Teachers at whatever level we find ourselves are taking a raw material, in this case the student at entry to our school, and ‘processing’ it for an expected outcome, i.e. their grades/levels awarded at the end of their studies.
It began with league tables. The application of free market concepts to what in theory is a public service resulted in schools being rated by their results. Slowly (very slowly) this is changing, with the focus on student progress and value-added (sadly without school context), but ultimately a school is judged by it’s ability to ‘convert’.
This may seem cynical and obvious, but it’s true. These days, we are in the business of outcomes.