Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Yet another report on failing students!

A damming report about failing students is the lead article in our local paper. Evidently an increasing number of Taranaki students are leaving schools with no qualifications.

The report, it states, is an effort to reverse the disturbing trends and to encourage the region to develop a world class education system. This picks up on the challenge of educational philosopher Peter Drucker who has written that no country as yet has developed a twenty-first century education system.

Well, I have read the report and I am none the wiser about real solutions although I do have a better appreciation of the disturbing figures. Taranaki, it seems has the third highest regional rate of students with nothing to show for their time at school. 20% leave with no qualifications and Maori students have a much worse percentage. The truth is that the failure rate is too high right throughout New Zealand.

You would think this would generate real sense of urgency to change the education provided to these students at our secondary schools. I interpret the figures as indicating a dysfunctional education system for a growing number of students.

The report is more concerned about tracking such students and considering what to do for them once they leave the schools. As important as these issues are they represent an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

What is required is for schools to ask a few pertinent questions.

Which students are failing? The report answers this.
Why are they failing? What are the needs of these students?
What needs of learners are not being met for these students?
What do schools need to do to make learning attractive? How can learning be made more relevant? How can schools tap the talents these students have
Do schools need to invent some new structures and organizations to cater for these students?

‘It is’, said the report chairperson, ‘all about future proofing. Where we are now is not where we want to be in the future.’

Fine words! Now we need some twenty-first educational thinking to drag our secondary schools into the twenty-first century! Peter Drucker writes that every organization has to be prepared to abandon everything and that of all organizations schools have to change the most!

What about setting up a regional seminar of all involved to explore some new ideas? I would be happy to make a contribution.


Anonymous said...

I really can't understand why what you say isn't seen as an urgent issue. The problem is bigger than schools I guess?

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