Monday, August 01, 2005
Good bye Henry hello John!
Innovators at the edge!
Creative teachers developing curriculum challenges with their students has been part of a long and ongoing ‘tradition’ in New Zealand primary schools since the mid 1950s.
And long before this there were educators writing about the importance of teacher’s and learners working together to create learning communities. John Dewey naturally comes to mind. He developed his ideas in the early nineteenth century but there were many others. Mass education, based as it as on an industrial model, has more to with Henry Ford than John Dewey, and is still the basis of the organization of our secondary schools.
In the late 1930 a New Education Fellowship brought a number of distinguished educators to New Zealand and their ideas influenced the educational policies of the first Labour Government. Perhaps there is time for another such conference of educators?
In the early 60s Elwyn Richardson’s book ‘In The Early World’ was published as were books by Sylvia Ashton Warner. Elwyn’s book, in particular, was an inspiration for many teachers throughout New Zealand.
In our province of Taranaki there were a number of teachers who were inspired by the work of Elwyn. In recent years two books have been printed which illustrate the ideas developed. Pictured above are book by Bill Guild and Robin Clegg – Robin’s book is available from Curriculum Concepts.
Such teachers believed in student creativity and the need for teachers to develop an ‘emergent’ curriculum based on students interests and environment.
School based curriculums have had a long history.
With the World Wide Web and communication media all schools can create their own curriculums to suit their students. The curriculum is now available 'any where anytime – the curriculum has left the building'!
As we enter an ‘Age of Creativity and Imagination’ schools will have no choice but to change dramatically so as to personalize learning to suit the needs of their diverse students.
Throughout New Zealand there are many such schools just doing this.
Move over Henry Ford – John Dewey has arrived at last.