Saturday, November 26, 2011

The people have spoken

Well there we have it.
We have no option but to listen to the voice of the people and the people have said they are happy (in the majority) with National Standards and the National Government.
That means that we have to do all we can to ensure that our children are not the ones who loose from this- that is I/ we need to do all we can to mitigate the risks , ensure that our schools are still vibrate, positive places and that our children are engaged, motivated, confident, connected life long learners and that they achieve to the best of their potential.
I respect the choice and the decision of the people.
My job is to make this work.
Kia kaha

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Last Chance

Tomorrow we decide
Do we want an Education system based on passing Standards or based on meeting children's needs?
Do we want a system based on schools competing against each other for ranking on league tables or co operating and collaborating?
Do we want teachers pay based on how many children they get to meet the standard or based on value added?
Do we want schools recognised for their innovation, quality practices, systems of self review by the Education Review Office or recognised for their Decile Rating (which will in turn impact on ranking for National Standards)?
Do we want to retain our World Class Curriculum and Internationally recognised teachers or do we want to revert to a 1950's system of Standards and failing children as young as possible?
Wake up New Zealand our Education system that ranks so high in the world is at risk tomorrow.
This Government have made their policy clear. The implications are very serious.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is the purpose of school?

Often we are told that our business is to improve outcomes for learners- and to some degree this is true.
We are also told to fix the ills of society (teenage pregnancy, environmental destruction, financial woes, crime, racism, bullying,religious intolerance and hatred) and while schooling can't actually 'fix' these things it does have a part to play.
Usually these expectations come on schools when society is failing in some way or another or when a group wants to exploit schooling for some other agenda.

Our vision is for young people:

  • who will be creative, energetic, and enterprising
  • who will seize the opportunities offered by new knowledge and technologies to secure a sustainable social, cultural, economic, and environmental future for our country
  • who will work to create an Aotearoa New Zealand in which Māori and Pākehā recognise each other as full Treaty partners, and in which all cultures are valued for the contributions they bring
  • who, in their school years, will continue to develop the values, knowledge, and competencies that will enable them to live full and satisfying lives
  • who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners.
It is perhaps the last bullet point that is most compelling. If we as a nation are to succeed (and I don't just mean economically) we need individuals who are lifelong learners. Herein lies the challenge of schooling. How do we create/enable/encourage "confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners".
I believe that Schlechty sums it up beautifully below:
The business of schools is to produce learning that is so compelling that students persist when
they experience difficulties and that is so challenging that students have a sense of
accomplishment, of satisfaction- indeed of delight, when they successfully accomplish the task
assigned (leaning)
The job of the teacher is to make learning so compelling that young people find it more satisfying
to learn than to attend to any one of a score of competing possibilities”
Phil Schlechty in H Lynn Erickson “Concept based Curriculum and Instruction” pg viii 2002
So our challenge/ my challenge to schools is to unpack how we might make learning "so compelling" that all else falls aside. All inappropriate behaviour, all distractions, all texting....
Our challenge (and I understand that it is a big challenge) is to engage children and through exciting/ challenging/ motivational/difficult learning.
I believe we can achieve the vision in the New Zealand Curriculum rather than that which is dolled out in truck loads every time there is a problem in society (or an election). I also believe that this is a far more exciting challenge than any National Standard or Ministry imposed "3R" challenge.