QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF PRESCHOOL EDUCATION IN RUSSIA
Disclaimer: this article is based on the author’s personal experience of 10 years working in the educational system of Russia and represents the personal opinion.
The question of assessing the quality of education itself is not new. However, in the period “before FES” (Federal Education Standart), almost all methods were aimed specifically at assessing the quality of education (or rather, the “level” of education) of educational programs recipients (students). Of course, in addition to academic performance, many other things were assessed within the legislative framework, but it was carried out in close correlation with the number and quality of educational achievements of the students.
THEORY OF SYSTEMS
Now the FES has made the orientation towards the achievements of preschool children meaningless (but maybe for schools it’s not so unequivocally). Therefore, we are no longer talking about assessing the quality of education as a product, but about assessing the quality of the functioning of the education system. In addition, the understanding of what the “system” is in general and the education system in particular also lies in the field of fundamental research and theoretical research. And, from the point of view of a preschool teacher-practice, the entire conceptual base (system theory) doesn’t refer to his daily work at all. The same can be said for most practice managers.
It’s obvious that the system is a plurality of elements in communication with each other, which forms a certain integrity, unity. It is also clear that the sum of the system elements is not equal to the system itself (as the parts of LEGO in the box are not a building), and that the state of the system depends on the state of each of its elements (if the car’s engine breaks, the entire car stops driving). In theory, everything is logical, and there are no problems. However, in practice, a systematic approach is being implemented with difficulty.
PROFESSION OF THE FUTURE
In the period “before FES”, the education system most closely resembled a certain production line aimed at creating such a product as a “successful specialist”. From the moment of admission to an educational institution (kindergarten or elementary school), the child’s path along this conveyor began. And periodic knowledge testing and other diagnostics replaced the industrial quality control procedure.
The FES changed everything. Firstly, it determined that the educational process is not a technological cycle, but the result of the relationship of its participants: children, their parents, teachers, social partners, experts, agents of the sphere, etc. So the educational process itself goes into a state of constant dynamics based on the development of the relationship of living beings. Secondly, the FES shifted its focus from the list of directly educational tasks to creating conditions for the deployment of the educational process. As a result, we get a classic definition of an ecosystem – a biological system consisting of a community of living organisms, their habitat, a system of connections that exchanges matter and energy between them. So maybe the manager of the educational organization should be more of an engineer for the restoration (and development) of ecosystems (one of the top required professions in the future), and not an administrator?
Since it is possible to assume that the field of education is a kind of ecosystem, we can also conclude that it is also subject to the law of the limiting factor (Liebig’s law of minimum), which says that the factor that deviates most from the optimal value is most significant for the body. If it is easier to explain, then the ecosystem will collapse if it is too hot/cold/dry/wet/dark/sunny, etc. This law was formulated by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, and a figurative representation of this law is named after the scientist – the so-called “Liebig’s barrel”.
The essence is that when filling the barrel, water begins to overflow through the smallest board in the barrel, and the length of the remaining boards no longer matters. The role of the limiter can be taken by any factor (one or more), while this role can move from factor to factor, including in a circle. If one or more factors make a sharp qualitative jump, then the rest accept the position of the limiter. For example, if in kindergarten there are wonderful teachers with a salary quite average in the region, but the building and equipment are too old, then the environment will become the limiting factor. Let’s say this kindergarten won a grant, or maybe someone came to power who decided to re-equip preschool institutions, and in the kindergarten they made repairs and brought the most modern equipment. Teachers don’t know how and therefore are afraid to work with new equipment. Now the role of the limiter is played by the low (relative to the environment) level of competence of teachers (and, possibly, managers). When the teaching staff undergoes training and increases its qualification level, begins to use new means of implementing the educational program, the environment really “works,” but now highly qualified teachers don’t want to work for the “average” salary. There are, of course, many more such factors in the education system, but it seems that at the moment there is simply no clear description of this ecosystem and its internal ties.
One of the brightest global trends of the last ten years is the phenomenon of technology migration. For example, the transfer of the principles of biology to the technical sphere led to an attempt to create AI based on a neural network (repeat the concept of the brain in hardware). Technology is “migrating” from one area of human activity to another at an ever-increasing rate. This is mainly due to the fact that the development of global information networks has accelerated access to almost any data source. Now people, on average, once every 5-7 years (and this period is decreasing to every 3-5 years) change not only the place of work, but also the industry, and technologies often “migrate” together with their “carriers”. Therefore, a new formation of “successful specialists” appears – specialists who are trained and retrained all their lives. If our parents and previous generations grew up in the paradigm of accumulative specialty (the longer a person works in one industry, the more experience he has, the more valuable he is as a specialist), and our generation followed the path of adaptive specialty (gaining experience in the course of constantly changing activities and trying to understand which is now better), then the generation of millennials (Z-generation) no longer makes sense to consider from the standpoint of the specialist at all.
They have a different attitude to the choice of educational strategy, since they know for sure (or, in any case, feel) that they will have to retrain in their professional life and radically change the professional sphere at least three to four times. This is a generation of metamorphic specialists who don’t so much adapt to new conditions as change in accordance with the requirements of the profession. How is this related to kindergartens? First, metamorphism requires a free, flexible and thinking person with a rich imagination and the ability to analyze and synthesize. It is known that the “backbone” of the main mental processes is formed in preschool age. Secondly, the teacher is also a specialist. And the field of education is also permeable to “external” technologies. And metamorphic teachers are already showing themselves to be more successful in their work than their “mono-profile” colleagues.
by Taina Kaunis