Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fifteen years of Reform for what?


A house of cards! Posted by Hello

Choice, Accountability and Privatization; Enuf is Enuf!

An interview this week on National radio, with a visiting educationalist about Roger Douglas’s ideas, and how they have effected Canadian education, ended up by saying more about the same ‘market forces’ ideology and their effects in New Zealand Schools.

As we all know, NZ Schools are now ‘self managing’ – well, they manage everything but the important issues of: teaching, curriculum and assessment! The Government keeps a tight control over those issues! Prior to market forces days primary schools were ‘managed’ by regional Education Boards. Some might say that good bits of the ‘baby’ were ‘thrown out with the bath water’!

The interviewer seemingly represented the views of the affluent self centred middle class parents, or perhaps she was simply playing the ‘devils advocate’!

The issues covered were:

1 Parental Choice.
In response to parental choice being a ‘good thing’ as parents ‘know what they want’ for their children, the guest replied by saying the ‘mantra of parent choice needs to be put to rest – it is as if a hospital should be run by the sick’, but she said, more importantly, individual choice sacrifices community well being in areas of the most need. Parents, the interviewer said, can ‘feel’ what is a good school. A later contributor to the discussion (by e-mail) said that international research does not confirm this – most parents judge schools by perception or by other parents views. Another contributor made the point that in reality it was the ‘good’ schools that were choosing the students!

2 Standardized Testing in Basic Skills.
This has been resisted so far in New Zealand .The interviewer said it was important so that parents could identify the ‘best schools’, and to this, the guest replied that in Canada ( and the USA and the UK) national ‘high stakes’ testing has narrowed the curriculum and only provided a ‘thin slice’ of a child’s potential to parents. As well, the very things parents want for their children (the arts, music, sports) are being dropped by teachers who, for self interest, teach towards the tests. If parents, the guest advised, really wanted to know how their child was progressing they would be best advised to visit their child’s teacher to see results of classroom diagnostic tests and samples of their child’s work.

3 The perennial dilemma of failing students.
Students leave our school without the basics in place, was the claim by the interviewer. This was accepted by the guest but she replied that continual narrow testing does not solve the problem .In the USA, political pressure has led to ‘the cow being continually weighed but never properly fed!’ It was said that in Canada any grade one teacher could identify the potential school failures – no need for tests - what is wanted is more thought about ways to help.

What is too often ignored, or down played, the guest stated, was the cumulative effect of poor socio economic factors. Extra funding in Canada had not been able to ‘level the playing field’. A competitive ethos, fueled by parental self interest, does not make the situation any better. Only inspirational leadership, quality teachers, and school and community collaboration, backed by resources, she said, can solve the problem.

4 The Standardized Curriculum.
The guest said that the imposed complex curriculums had created ‘curriculum crowding’ in Canada and, combined with testing, was killing teacher energy which in turn was cutting down time for valuable extra curricula and creative classroom teaching – ironically the very things the interviewer said parents looked for in ‘good schools’.

5 Managers or Leaders?
The interviewer thought that teachers were being precious about needing to be managed as against being led. The Canadian guest, in response, said that in her country since the 90s, managerial duties had distracted school principals from attending to their ‘core tasks’ of ensuring quality teaching and learning. It is now increasingly hard in Canada to attract ‘inspirational leaders’ to lead schools.

So it seems that privatization, (self management) choice, and accountability has not been the answer, even after 15 years, in both NZ and Canada; students still fail. As well ‘managerialism’ has resulted in a ‘de-professionalizing’ of teachers and, as a result, the time and energy of principals has become ‘bogged down’ in tasks divorced from real classroom issues.

Schools, the guest suggested, need inspirational leadership to return the focus to teaching and learning, and to put into practice all the exciting new ideas about how students learn. It is these issues, she believes, that will transform school.

Schools in democratic society must be more that about satisfying narrow self interest of parents, or single issue community groups. Our students are entering global a world beyond all our expectations. Their future success depends on us.

It must be beyond 'winner' and 'loser' schools - the health and well being of the whole community is dependent on how successful our are schools are. National guidelines are important to avoid 'capture' and to assure the public that their money is being well spent. Human need rather than human greed; choice , accountability and privatization are at best distractions, and have drawn attention away from the more important issue of the need to ‘transform’ all our schools into true learning communities so as to ensure all students succeed – no excuses.

Perhaps it is time, as one e-mail contributor said, to evaluate the changes that have happened since 1986; to look at the gains and losses since the disbanding of regional Education Boards. Time for some new thinking; perhaps in some case we have 'thrown out the baby with the bathwater?’

What do you think?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think, as you say, it is time for a review of what has been lost and gained since 86 and what we need to change to ensure all students learn.It can be done!

Bruce said...

What we have lost most of all is the sense of collegiality that we used to have. Now there is no way anyone can really know what is happening in other schools.

As well schools are averse to sharing ideas as that might be disadvantageous to them!

In the 'olden days'( pre 1986) the Departmental Inspectors did a lot of work bringing principals together to share ideas. As did the then advisers.

No point in asking ERO to do this -they wouldn't see it as their role and anyway a lot of them are just escapers from the reality of running a school.Some of them never have.

As for advisers, they are too busy delivering Ministry contracts to know what is really happening!

What we need are new arrangements to bring schools together to share with each other the expertise they have. This is the way of the future!

Anonymous said...

You are right!

Prior to 86 was the time of such things as the Language Committee when teachers from various schools met and shared in-service and in one occasion I remember a weeklong series of workshops was held in which high school and primary school teachers shared their perspectives and skills.

Also there were many positive changes in education beginning to emerge, such as the Learning & Science Project (1982-85) and ‘interactive teaching approach’ whereby a child centred philosophy and understanding of how children learn was clearly defined and many cases put into practice. During this time even some ministry funded contracts focused on the art and science of teaching- in many cases tapping into the skills of ordinary but creative classroom teachers.

Now many schools seem to be closed shops, some more than others, and many teachers seem more concerned about curriculum strands and objectives than the real purposes of learning and the art of teaching.

Bruce said...

You have mentioned some of the very things we have lost, regional language committees and the great work of the Learning in Science Project ( interactive teaching).

Schools had become closed shops because of 'Tomorrows Schools' but it is great to see, in recent years, an increase of teachers visiting each other to learn from 'real people'.

A lot of early inter-school collaboration by principals was more about how to cope with compliance issues than teaching and learning.

Teachers said...

Betty Tesh here with a few hints for new Teachers...

You're going to be a great teacher. You've got knowledge, enthusiasm, desire, motivation. What you don't have is experience.

And experience makes the difference between a potentially great teacher and a comfortably great teacher.

We've got over 68 combined years of experience to share, which is what we've done in...

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No esoteric teaching methods. No field studies or carefully calibrated experiments. Just down-to-earth, helpful hints and suggestions to help you survive your first (few) years as a teacher.

We warn you about common pitfalls, give suggestions for getting along with fellow teachers, toss out a few classroom management techniques, offer advice on dealing with parents, and share secrets on organizing some of that "stuff" you've suddenly acquired.

If what you want is dull, dry treatise on pedagogy, or if you need a heavy meal of ibids and op.cits laced with quotes from learned professors of education, this book's not for you. It's quick and easy reading, a bit light-hearted, but as serious as an air strike about helping you bet the teacher you know you were meant to be.

A handbook for initially licensed, novice and beginning teachers that shares classroom management ideas, tips for getting along with educational personnel, suggestions for dealing with parents, and advice that good mentoring
teachers share for success in the classroom, written with humor by experienced educators.

As a new teacher, you won’t be doing battle with a supreme Evil like Sauron or traveling into the Cracks of Doom like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, but like those two Hobbits, you are ‘expected to find a way...’ (Book IV, Chpt. 3) A way to make learning fun, but keep control of the classroom; a way to reach thirty different children with thirty different learning styles, a way to teach whole-heartedly while fielding a barrage of forms, procedures, expectations and instructions.

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor." is available at my site for new Teachers.

Teachers said...

Betty Tesh here with a few hints for new Teachers...

You're going to be a great teacher. You've got knowledge, enthusiasm, desire, motivation. What you don't have is experience.

And experience makes the difference between a potentially great teacher and a comfortably great teacher.

We've got over 68 combined years of experience to share, which is what we've done in...

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor."

No esoteric teaching methods. No field studies or carefully calibrated experiments. Just down-to-earth, helpful hints and suggestions to help you survive your first (few) years as a teacher.

We warn you about common pitfalls, give suggestions for getting along with fellow teachers, toss out a few classroom management techniques, offer advice on dealing with parents, and share secrets on organizing some of that "stuff" you've suddenly acquired.

If what you want is dull, dry treatise on pedagogy, or if you need a heavy meal of ibids and op.cits laced with quotes from learned professors of education, this book's not for you. It's quick and easy reading, a bit light-hearted, but as serious as an air strike about helping you bet the teacher you know you were meant to be.

A handbook for initially licensed, novice and beginning teachers that shares classroom management ideas, tips for getting along with educational personnel, suggestions for dealing with parents, and advice that good mentoring
teachers share for success in the classroom, written with humor by experienced educators.

As a new teacher, you won’t be doing battle with a supreme Evil like Sauron or traveling into the Cracks of Doom like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, but like those two Hobbits, you are ‘expected to find a way...’ (Book IV, Chpt. 3) A way to make learning fun, but keep control of the classroom; a way to reach thirty different children with thirty different learning styles, a way to teach whole-heartedly while fielding a barrage of forms, procedures, expectations and instructions.

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor." is available at my site for new Teachers.

Home school said...

Achievements

HELLO Bruce

I was going to leave a little tip on New Years Resolutions and how to make the best of them.

Unfortunately, I would not be able to keep it brief.

Goal setting takes effort and you really have to know how to do it to do it well. Especially the follow-up.

That's why I've included a lot of FREE goal setting information on my website, to help folks like you be more successful.

In fact, you can start now, and get a head start on the new year - and the rest of your life.

Think goal setting isn't important?

Spend a little time at Developing Goals and you'll change your mind.

Have a GREAT day!

Profession said...

Home school

HI Bruce

After a good read on blogs like this I like to leave little tips on goal setting. You know, the things you used to dream of when you were young, or even now.

A lot of research has shown that only those who set goals are likely to achieve their dreams.

When is the last time you really sat down and wrote a few short term and long term goals down?

What? It's been that long!

A new year is coming. You could do the same things you did this year and achieve the same results you did with your life dreams last year…

…or you could visit Effective Goal Setting and read all the FREE information on setting goals and getting what you want out of life

OR

you could just piddle on through life hoping for the best, like most people do.

Which will it be?

You really can have a lot more of everything than you do now. All you gotta do is know what you want and have a plan.

Have a GREAT New Year!

Profession said...

Designing

Hi Bruce

After reading a good blog I tend to analyze it to see what the person behind it might be like.

I've been in the goal setting business a while now and just like most people with experience in different areas of expertise, I can tell a lot about a person just by speaking to them or reading something they've written.

You haven't wrtten any goals on paper for awhile have you? And if you have I'll bet you haven't looked at them for a long time. Right?

Goal setting is hard work, and harder still if you don't have short range goals, mid range goals and long range goals.

I think you'll agree that few people really take the time to set goals of any kind.

When is the last time you really thought about setting some real goals, or are you like the vast majority of people who just "hope for the best"?

You already know successful people aren't "just lucky", they know how to set effective goals and reach them.

I was like that once, you might be also.

How about changing all that.

Come on over to goals+ and learn exactly how to set effective goals, act on them and be the real you.

There's a ton of FREE information and who knows, this little insert in your blog might well change your life!

Happy New Year!

Home school said...

HELLO Bruce

Teaching

I like to leave little "helps" after reading a good blog, or going over the blog comments, just to start people thinking about, well, everything.

2006 is just around the corner.

Thought about what you would like to achieve next year?

Did you do all you wanted to do this year, personally, professionally and perhaps spiritually?

My guess is; probably not. Most people don't know how to set workable goals and if they do, the don't know how to manage them.

When is the last time you actually took time to write down all you would like to do and accomplish in life? Or even a few of the small things you would like to do but didn't think would be possible?

We all have the potential to get almost anything we want out of life. It just takes a little work, thinking and action.

The first step is knowing how to set effective goals and then of course, how to follow up on them. That's the hard part. Following up.

How would you like to actually make this years New Years Resolution come true? Of course it would have to be attainable, and possible, but you could do it if you knew how.

Curious?

Use the FREE information @ How To Set Goals and have a really GREAT NEW YEAR.

All the BEST!

Betty Tesh said...

Betty Tesh here with a few hints for New Teachers...

You're going to be a great teacher. You've got knowledge, enthusiasm, desire, motivation. What you don't have is experience.

And experience makes the difference between a potentially great teacher and a comfortably great teacher.

We've got over 68 combined years of experience to share, which is what we've done in...

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor."

No esoteric teaching methods. No field studies or carefully calibrated experiments. Just down-to-earth, helpful hints and suggestions to help you survive your first (few) years as a teacher.

We warn you about common pitfalls, give suggestions for getting along with fellow teachers, toss out a few classroom management techniques, offer advice on dealing with parents, and share secrets on organizing some of that "stuff" you've suddenly acquired.

If what you want is dull, dry treatise on pedagogy, or if you need a heavy meal of ibids and op.cits laced with quotes from learned professors of education, this book's not for you. It's quick and easy reading, a bit light-hearted, but as serious as an air strike about helping you bet the teacher you know you were meant to be.

A handbook for initially licensed, novice and beginning teachers that shares classroom management ideas, tips for getting along with educational personnel, suggestions for dealing with parents, and advice that good mentoring
teachers share for success in the classroom, written with humor by experienced educators.

As a new teacher, you won’t be doing battle with a supreme Evil like Sauron or traveling into the Cracks of Doom like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, but like those two Hobbits, you are ‘expected to find a way...’ (Book IV, Chpt. 3) A way to make learning fun, but keep control of the classroom; a way to reach thirty different children with thirty different learning styles, a way to teach whole-heartedly while fielding a barrage of forms, procedures, expectations and instructions.

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor." is available at my site for New Teachers.

New Teachers said...

Betty Tesh here with a few hints for New Teachers...

You're going to be a great teacher. You've got knowledge, enthusiasm, desire, motivation. What you don't have is experience.

And experience makes the difference between a potentially great teacher and a comfortably great teacher.

We've got over 68 combined years of experience to share, which is what we've done in...

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor."

No esoteric teaching methods. No field studies or carefully calibrated experiments. Just down-to-earth, helpful hints and suggestions to help you survive your first (few) years as a teacher.

We warn you about common pitfalls, give suggestions for getting along with fellow teachers, toss out a few classroom management techniques, offer advice on dealing with parents, and share secrets on organizing some of that "stuff" you've suddenly acquired.

If what you want is dull, dry treatise on pedagogy, or if you need a heavy meal of ibids and op.cits laced with quotes from learned professors of education, this book's not for you. It's quick and easy reading, a bit light-hearted, but as serious as an air strike about helping you bet the teacher you know you were meant to be.

A handbook for initially licensed, novice and beginning teachers that shares classroom management ideas, tips for getting along with educational personnel, suggestions for dealing with parents, and advice that good mentoring
teachers share for success in the classroom, written with humor by experienced educators.

As a new teacher, you won’t be doing battle with a supreme Evil like Sauron or traveling into the Cracks of Doom like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, but like those two Hobbits, you are ‘expected to find a way...’ (Book IV, Chpt. 3) A way to make learning fun, but keep control of the classroom; a way to reach thirty different children with thirty different learning styles, a way to teach whole-heartedly while fielding a barrage of forms, procedures, expectations and instructions.

"The Handy-Dandy Desktop Mentor." is available at my site for New Teachers.

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