I realised while writing the title of this post that many people, particularly the South Africans reading this article, will have no idea what outcome based education is. This is probably a good thing.
Outcome-based education (OBE) is a teaching model that rejects the traditional focus on what schools provide to students – viz. education. Sorry – that was hard to resist. OBE is a teaching method that attempts to coach students to demonstrate that they “know and are able to do” whatever the required outcomes of a particular task are.
Many countries, including South Africa, define their OBE standards so that they focus on core subjects such language, mathematics, science, and history, without referring to attitudes, social skills, or moral values. This tends to work amazingly well if you live and interact in a culture-less bubble.
Outcomes generally include a range of skills and knowledge. According to Wikipedia:
Generally, outcomes are expected to be concretely measurable, that is, “Student can run 50 meters in less than one minute” instead of “Student enjoys physical education class.” A complete system of outcomes for a subject area normally includes everything from mere recitation of fact (“Students will name three tragedies written by Shakespeare”) to complex analysis and interpretation (“Student will analyze the social context of a Shakespearean tragedy in an essay”).
Again, in theory this is great. Where everything tends to collapse is when young students are introduced into the mix. Add in the OBE method of grading and promoting students and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
In theory, OBE students are evaluated against absolutes not against their peers. So, for example, a student is promoted if they know x% of the total material, where x is determined by the education authorities – ever wonder about those miraculous pass rate statistics you read improving year by year? Genetically superior, intellectually enhanced post-apartheid children or X-files material – you decide.
Basically, in OBE, a students current performance is compared to their own prior performance rather than their performance relative to their peers. Cut it how you will, in real terms what this translates to is that it is practically impossible for a student to ‘fail’.
Even those who would not achieve a passing grade in a traditional age-based approach can be recognized for their concrete, positive, individual improvements.
Hurrah for all you employers out there.
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy reading this education related cartoon: Julius Malema matric results. If all this is far too depressing for you, perhaps consider some personal coaching to help you cope, or better yet buy lotto tickets online and hope to win so you can send your kids to a private school in South Africa.