Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Changing the way that Parents see Education

One of the most popular schools that I have worked in, prepares its students for exams.  Yes, that is their self-confessed way of working.  And their parents love it.  They see their offspring getting as good a qualification that they can get.  Their children are taught how to memorize and get good marks in exams.  They wear uniforms and all look the same and get treated the same.

And therein lies a big problem for educators because we see our job as educating the students for the future.  Bernadine Oliver - Kirby has written an opinion piece about modern learning environments that has provoked many an educator to writing a response, rebutting her claims.    I am not going into this in depth because it has already been done well by Claire Amos and Maurie Abraham from Hobsonville Point Secondary School, but the issue is a trying one for educators.

Just how do we convince our communities that we are professionals, with the best interests of their children at heart?  It is a tricky one because politics and politicians are agin us for a start.  We have National Standards and NCEA drumming on the doors at every turn, because the government has chosen these ways to measure how successful schools are and, now, again, possibly how much a teacher should be paid.

Sadly, I heard Toni Street and Mike Hosking last night reinforcing the idea that you can give performance pay to teachers, despite very valid arguments from a number of educators, on their show, arguing to the contrary.  They listened to the arguments, said they were good arguments, and then said that they still believed in the concept.  What does it take?  They said that you could measure performance on how much progress the student had made.  Really.  Are we measuring this "progress" by NZQA and National Standards, by any chance?

So you see the popular media are agin us as well.  (Gosh, I hope I am not sounding all Trumpesque.)

So again I say, look to the future to find out what paid work will look like.  Are your children well prepared to be able to use technology to do survive in this world?  Are they well prepared to communicate, collaborate, connect, think critically, create,  and are they culturally competent to be able to respect and interact with people of other cultures?

If you do want to look to the past, ask this of yourself - what did you learn that still has an impact on you and how did you learn it?  Chances are that you were given choice and time to inquire into something that interested you.

And just in case you doubt that linear pathways to qualifications will not be going away soon, check out Sue Suckling, chair of NZQA on the future of education. (Courtesy of Morgan Ngata's youtube).

Education may not have progressed much while you were at school.  It pretty much stayed the same for 150 years.  But don't let that colour your view of the value of changing and what it will be in the future.  And, by the way, it doesn't matter if you lie on the floor for writing practice.  You don't have to learn to do pretty writing in straight lines any more.  We have computers for that.

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