Monday, August 01, 2005

Good bye Henry hello John!

Innovators at the edge! Posted by Picasa

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.


Anonymous said...

I wonder about the number of creative teachers left to meet the challenge. In recent times I think many teachers have simply been trying to adapt to overly complex and ill fitting curriculum. Many have in the process lost sight of the essential concerns of learning and teaching and the voice of their students. Unfortunately these teachers still tend to rise through the ranks and perpetuate
the misery.

Bruce said...

Being a creative teacher is not a job for the weak willed!

And you are right about the mediocre often rising to the top and then imposing managerial nonsense on their own teachers. I think it is called the 'Peter principle'.

Anonymous said...

The Henry Ford 'mentality' sure is in charge of secondary schools.

Henry Ford created a great company and almost destroyed it with his oppressive time and management efficiency. The car was made by adding litte bits as it went along the chain. No one worker understood the whole process. A lesson here for schools. Henry created the first mass produced car and then he gave people a choice - they could have any colour they liked as long as it was black! Worked for a while!

Time, as you say, for John Dewey!

Bruce said...

Mass education - the dream of the 19th Century is now a mass nightmare for many students in the 21stC.

Bruce said...

The new phrase from the UK is mass personalisation of education!