Friday, December 23, 2005

Read it in the Daily News - must be true!

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While some of us despair that education seems impervious to change at the high school level others seems to think it is a hotbed of revolution.

We can’t be speaking about the same place? Mind you editorials are notoriously reactionary about education and seem to think that there was some ‘Golden Age’ when every thing about school was wonderful!

A recent editorial in our local paper links the recent beach racial riots in Australia to the 'liberal' teaching in secondary schools. And in an amazing leap the editor ties it into teaching in secondary schools in New Zealand.

Has he been in a secondary school in recent years? Such schools were using corporal punishment in living memory – the 'good old days', but the rest of the coercive control structures are still in place – uniforms, bells, timetables, and teachers who ‘deliver’ often irrelevant curriculums to unwilling students.

For all this the editorial in question blames the race riots on schools saying that ‘
for the past 20-30 years , at least as long as the young people involved in Sydney’s so called race riots, the schools have preached the gospel about multi-cuturalism and the value of ethnic diversity. In both countries the dominant Anglo –Celtic culture has been deconstructed to expose its many faults, real and imagined. It was denigrated as being socialy unjust and divisive'.

The editorial goes on to say

‘brawlers were youthful members of the sharing, caring, inclusive generation who had been raised on educational and institutionally moral diets of ethnic awareness , equality and social justice.Clearly this force feeding has not worked’.

Schools are asked, in the editorial, to have second thoughts about what they have been teaching.

This is all a bit rich; scapegoating at its worst. The editorial indicates that such cultural ‘relativism’ has gone too far. Perhaps alienated youth should learn to accept their position in a monocultural society without question as was the myth of racial togetherness of early days of New Zealand?

What this teaching has to do with the riots on the Sydney beach is a bit tenuous to say the least, but if there are groups of youths who feel alienated from the society they live in then something needs to be done. And the answer can’t be to make schools more Anglo -Celtic traditional – quite the opposite. We need to create truly 21st Century schools where all students have a chance to develop whatever potential they have so they can make a real contribution to their community. This will mean for some of those currently in power, Editors included, to change their minds.

The editorial concludes by calling for a need for us all to make use of our 'collective intelligence' to develop a set of ‘core values’. A good idea but I fear ‘he’ means those good old Anglo Celtic superior mono-cutural beliefs .

Perhaps I got him wrong but I am unaware of all this ‘compulsory tolerance’ that he says our schools have been ‘preaching’. It might have been better if ‘he’ had his journalists really investigate the history of the riots in Sydney and the societal conditions that created the outbreak; I think he would find it a little deeper than a few social studies teachers trying to influence a few students – hard enough in the best of times.

But the idea of developing a vision for New Zealand, based on inclusive values that celebrate our cultural diversity and creativity, is a good idea as we enter what will be an increasingly multicultural world. I fear the era of Anglo- Celtic domination is long gone.

And once we have achieved this we can then decide how to create an education system that has more to do with our student’s future than the Editor’s past.


Anonymous said...

At Toyota they believe in asking five questions to provide insight into any one problem - perhaps it should be applied to why so many students fail our school system - and why proportionately far too many are Maori?

Or you could ask the same questions as to why there are so many Maori proportionately in our prisons ( one of our growth industries)?

If this was done we may come up with some creative solutions beyond the current 'one size fits all' system.

Anonymous said...

Schools would have to be transformed totally to even have half a chance to ensure all students gain success and new understandings about how to live in a multi-cultural society.

Bruce said...

Just seems hard to imagine schools changing when the media and in turn the public still want schools as they used to be.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if the journalists really studied schools to see how they were going in the task of helping all students leave with a passion for learning intact - finding one would be their first challenge!

And wouldn't it be great if they asked aome of our creative citizens - like Peter Jackson, for their ideas on how to change schools to ensure creativity was valued.

There may even be some educationalists with ideas to share!

The press could begin a national 'conversation' about education and even invite international experts to start the ball rolling.

Why do we all accept a 25% failure rate as normal - we wouldn't in any other area of living? I guess as long as it is not our own kids who cares?