Monday, December 06, 2004

Let's start a revolution!

I am a great believer in creative destruction; that is to build something new you have to be prepared to give away what seems to be more or less working. I think this really applies to schooling.

At the end of the year schools are parading their success to the community and to the general public all seems well. The truth is that schools are very successful for catering for the academic students they were designed for. And, of course, these successful students come from successful parents who have little interest in changing what works well for their children. And why should they? And of course they can afford the ‘best’!

The trouble is lots of things have changed since secondary schools were introduced last century to transmit knowledge to often less than willing students. Even when they were made compulsory up until the age of 15 the less academic students left for the work force as soon as they could. In those days manual work was readily available.

Today secondary schools are great if it were still 1965! That is not to say schools with less academic students are not doing their best to provide alternative options for such students. Some school have created innovative courses but, while the basic structures of schools remain locked into an industrial age, it will always be difficult.

What is needed is for communities, with government support, to set up a range of alternative learning organizations that focus on providing each learner with a personalized programme. Such organizations (I hesitate to call them schools) could make use of collaborative teams of teachers to focus on: developing all students’ talents, developing future literacy’s, integrating learning with the local community ( in a form of service education or apprenticeship), and make full use of information technology.

This is all a very possible revolution and one that puts creative teachers and innovative communities at the centre.

In the meantime schools could look to rearranging the current NZCEA units into a range of cross curricula studies, combining teachers from various disciplines, rather than locking individaul units into traditional subjects. Not really a revolution but a start!

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