Saturday, February 26, 2005
Let's Stop Riding A Dead Horse!
Best book an educational change!
All the pressure these days about schools seems to be directed at the New Zealand Educational Achievement qualifications. I believe the NZCEA is a step (if a rather complicated one) in the right direction.
All this concern is diverting thought away from the real issue, ‘Our Secondary Schools Don’t Work Anymore.’
The answer is, as illustrated above,’ If you are Riding A Dead Horse get Off’.
We seem to have a half finished revolution. Early education and primary schools do their best to create customized learning centred environments while secondary school continue with their ‘procrustean’ one size fits all model.
Traditional secondary schools are well organized to resist innovation and creativity with their hierarchical culture, timetables, uniforms, bells and isolated subject teaching. Not a great environment to try out new ideas but they still remain dominant in the community’s admiration like successful dinosaurs.
There are two alternatives for them. They can tinker their way timidly into the future or cling on to their past power and glory supported by change averse old boys associations.
The best solution is to add a further choice for enlightened parents. A government truly dedicated to develop the talents of all students could encourage the establishment of a range of community ‘discovery’ schools to cater for the talented, gifted, discontented, or even alienated students.
There would be plenty of students who would fit into the above categories. No doubt there would be similar number of secondary teachers who have had enough of compromising their beliefs who, if supported, would like to try something better? There would also be plenty of community expertise to make use of if the conception of schooling was change to one of customizing learning to suit the learner.
To develop such 21stC schools the government need to face up to the reality that we still have 30% of students leaving with little to show for their time at school and to use these figures to create a sense of urgency in the general population about the need for new thinking. No sign of this as yet. I guess all the energy is focused on defending the NZCEA rather than taking advantage of its flexibility to be innovative about school structures.
If you are riding a dead horse the best thing is to get off and try something new!