Sunday, June 18, 2006

Minister Maharey's Agenda

A week or so ago our Minister of Education Steve Maharey presented his future agenda at a Middle School Principals meeting.

It signals the direction the government intends to take in education the next few years – well at least to the next election!

His eight points make interesting reading and possibly signs of better times for teachers and principals who have had to sufer the technocratic incoherent curriculums of the past decades?

His points were (with a few comments from me):

1. An emphasis on effective teaching based on NZ research (‘best practices’). I think I would prefer based on effective teaching taking place in our schools informed by current research. It is great that it has been ‘discovered’ that the teacher is the most important influence in any classroom along with high expectations.

2. An emphasis on developing leadership in schools (and within and between schools I would hope). This will be a change from all the managerial compliance requirements of the past years – imposed by his own bureaucrats. Many principals have been too busy with paper work to focus on leadership.

3. The provision of resources to schools .This could well be the Ministry's main role along with creating networks to spread the good ideas being developed in schools. The Minister needs to develop a ‘high trust’ rather than a 'low trust' audit culture – now that would be something.

4. A focus on behavior issues. Student behavior is a symptom of wider society issues but schools have not been able to provide challenging enough programmes to ensure students are gaining attention through positive actions. An emphasis on ‘designing’ programmes to suit individuals, rather than ‘delivering’ ‘one size fits all’ programmes, may be the real solution.

5. Retaining students until 16.This links in with all the above. It is pretty easy to work out witch students are not being retained (or ‘engaged’) and it wouldn’t be brain surgery to do something about it except for dysfunctional industrial aged secondary schools.

6. Reviewing Secondary education and teaching. Now there is a real challenge and one that has within it the seeds of success for all students. We know enough now that all students can gain success but we suffer from a ‘knowing action’ gap.

7. Engaging families and whanau. This of course means ‘inviting’ the very families that have had bad experience themselves when at school. The old pass/fail School Certificate ensures that this includes 50% of parents. A lot of ‘mindsets’ to change here both within and outside schools.

8. Ensuring sound foundations of literacy and numeracy. No argument here but lets see them as ‘foundations’ to ensure that the interests, passions, talents and dreams of all students are the number one priority! Schools are too often ‘dream killer’ not ‘dream weavers’. ‘Learnacy’ is more important than either literacy or numeracy.

His final challenge to the Middle School principals was to ‘personalized the learning for the children in front of you’ and for them to ‘lead the debate’.

Personalization will be the word we will all be talking about the next decade as the 'mass' education 'dream' has turned into a 'nightmare' for too many student (and teachers).

Nothing new in personalization, it has just taken along time to reach the heady heights of the Ministry officials in their distant ivory towers,

School to need to be treated personally as well - that will be the Ministry's challenge!


Anonymous said...

It seems you are in agreement with Ministry directions? Or are they just catching up to what you and others have been saying these past years?

It is ironic that Labour are cleaning up the mess they first created. Have they changed their advisers or have their advisers changed their minds?

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how politicians can forget what their own party introduced - the Minister ought to preface his more acceptable views with an apology for past errors!

Anonymous said...

Be great if the Government can deliver - but changing the 'mindsets', and in turn the structures, of secondary schools will be a challenge.Such school aren't exactly 'learning organisations'! And who in the Ministry has had any real experience in this area.

Anonymous said...

This could well have been the agenda before the imposition of a 'market foces' mentality! 'Deju vu' to you Steve!

Anonymous said...

Number 6 is the important one!

Bruce Hammonds said...

It is as if we have another chance to do the 60's again but this time to get it right! We know so much more about learning now and we have the technology to spread the ideas!