Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ideas from 1995 - so what has changed?

 Article found while tidying up! It is always interesting to what ideas have changed. Posted by Picasa

October 24 1995

'Tomorrows Schools has created a new environment for schools.

In many ways the bureaucracy of the old Education Department has been replaced by a technocratic culture which has imposed new layers of accountability over teachers in the name of efficiency.

As well there has been a profusion of curriculum changes to cope with.

This has resulted in many schools and teachers feeling somewhat ‘shell-shocked’.

It is not possible or desirable to return to the past.

We need to accept the new reality and make the best of the situation we find ourselves in. It is important to reflect on the changes, be critical, and then add positive alternative to the debate.

What are missing in this new environment are the humane and holistic values that have always underpinned primary teaching. The technocratic business audit culture sits uncomfortably with child-centred teaching. We know the important things in education can’t be simply measured and that education is more a lifetime process than measurable outcome.

To retain a sense of control, important in times of continual change, we need a model that we feel comfortable with. This is why the ‘School as a Community’ is an excellent alternative.

It is interesting to note that innovative businesses are also moving towards a similar concept, that of the ‘learning organization’ which is based on trusting people to feel accountable to the bonds of shared values for their competitive advantage. Trusting ‘empowered’ employees in self managing teams is the only way a modern business can thrive in these times of continual change.

What we need to do (within the current compliance constraints) is to develop the ‘School as a Community’ model. To work it will mean that each staff member of the school making a real commitment to its success. This may mean giving changing some of our views on teaching and giving away some of our individuality as teachers (or isolation) and really valuing the advantages of collegiality.

The community model is so soft option and depends on each person being willing to be accountable and appraised against agreed school values. Any diffences will have to be made open and handled constructively for the common good.

The teaching approach will have to be compatible with the agreed belief system.

We need to move away from the more permissive ideas developed in the 60/70s, build on the best of past practices and include new ideas about how students learn.

We need to place greater emphasis on teachers interacting to make sure students really think about what they are doing. In the past we may have placed too much faith in ‘learning by doing’. We now know that talking with others, and recording what we know, is also vital.

In the past we also may have been so concerned with providing activities and managing them that we never had time to teach. To counter this we need to introduce more predictability into our classrooms and only provide students choices when they can work independently. We need to organize ourselves to gain time to teach those in need.

We also need to negotiate with the students the values that underpin all class interactions so they are able to control themselves though moral obligations. The classroom communities will need to reflect the values of the total school community.

To empower students we need to negotiate with them class activities and organizations, the achievement criteria they need to assess how successful they have been, and to help them set new goals to develop the habit of continual quality improvement.

As well students need to become aware of thinking strategies involved in any learning activity. To do this we will need to deliberately teach thinking strategies in realistic contexts.

It will be important to help them see connections between Learning Areas so that they learn to instigate their learning. This will require teachers to work in teams to plan collaboratively. Secondary schools will need to develop new multi skilled teams rather to replace their outdated subject departments.

Most important of all students will need to value person effort and perseverance if they are to gain the satisfaction of quality achievement. In the past we may not have expected enough from our students. Too many students are caught up in wanting instant gratification, thinking that first finished is best. We need to instill a sense of quality rather than quantity in our students.

All these ideas combine to help students take a greater responsibity for their own learning and contribute to them becoming life long learners. Little however will be of use to our children ‘at risk’ if we don’t work in full partnership with parents and the wider community.

Such a transformation will require leadership and hard work but it will promise raising teacher morale, make teaching more fun, and will ensure all students gain a sense of responsibity for their own learning.

If school combine the ‘School as a Community’ model with new ideas about teaching and learning they could be transformed. It would be hard work and require a total school effort to realize. However if the ideas were to be considered realistic they would be worth the effort'.

Bruce Hammonds

Still makes sense to me. Now almost common practice?

For ideas about how to develop your school as a learning community based on the power of shared Vision, Values and Teaching Beliefs, visit the Leading and Learning for the 21stC website.


Anonymous said...

All sounds very familiar!

Anonymous said...

If only schools were 'learning communities rather than being based on a basic lack of trust that teachers can teach and students can learn given the right conditions. Lets hope things are now gettinmg better with the publication of the 'new' NZ Curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I admire that you persist - doesn't the nonsense from the Ministry tire you out?

Anonymous said...

You must feel pleased with latest NZCF? Some sense at last!

Bruce said...

It is a step in the right direction - mind you the previous one was so bad that any step in any direction would do!

It is a bit light on co-constructivist pedagogy, doesn't push the concept of developing all students talents enough, 'key competencies' are good but sound too technocratic and are hardly new, and the pedogogical, or ideological, 'gap' between primary and secondary schools is not mentioned.

But who's complaining!