Friday, November 25, 2011

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds - principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

Early this week National finally showed its hand about National Standards testing and 'league tables.

After months of weasel words Nationals agenda becomes painfully clear.

And on TV John Key happily blamed failing children on poor teaching - he evidently didn't see the programme shown the same week about the effects of poverty, poorly heated housing was creating for 1 in 5 children in such areas. And in housing managed by the government . Funny how the 1in 5 failing children fits the same data as Mrs Tolley's - this time the data is correct; not  simplistic political dogma spread by both Tolley and Key. I think we could correctly call it propaganda. The figures for failing children in these areas are greater than 1 in 5  due to poor housing resulting in health problems that civilised countries like Sweden have long since solved through integrated humanitarian policies. In New Zealand we still rely on the 'trickle down' theory that has failed wherever it has been tried - but the theory does save the self satisfied National voters facing up to reality. After all it is the poors own fault. All they need to get is job and all will be well - ignoring that there are no jobs to get!

Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can't see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators ( if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.

Principals who meekly went along with National Standards  will be seen as Judas Sheep or the Vichy ( who worked with the Germans) in France. Too few principals had the courage to stand up to such destructive polices and too few got together to make  a  group stand - I can only think of one group who did so led by Perry Rush. NZEI and NZPPF opposition was in itself not enough to make it clear to teachers and principals the need for action. 

To get an idea of what is about to rain on their heads teachers and principals need to read the Joe Stalin's approach to education and also click the  to Kelvin Smythe uncovering of the future agenda before it was announced.

Probably the best metaphor for the future direction of education is a comparison with McDonalds- and Ronald their clone like icon.

McDonalds is all about efficiency and standards - and each franchise can easily be reported on and help from the central office sent if necessary or the franchise removed.

Now I don't mind the odd McDonalds meal when in a hurry but as a diet it results in poor health. The biggest difference between a school and MacDonalds  will be that McDonald only takes in standardised potatoes and meat. Schools will have to take whichever students turn up -although students attending high decile schools, of course, will have the advantage of their parents 'social capital'. And the rich will simply avoid going to McDonalds school as they do now.

The McDonald story is quite interesting. By the 1950s one company was responsible for the the change in the American diet as fast food became the craze. One little restaurant in California sold more than any other in America. This was run by two brothers  - the McDonalds. The brothers were a success and opened others unfortunately for them they didn't like flying and Ray Croc bought the business and sold franchise  throughout America -  and the world. Standardised food had arrived.

The McDonald brothers originally started with a vision. They got rid of all the china, silverware and waitresses and reopened with customers coming to collect their own food - and they cut their menu to seven items. Customers only could specify the meal they wanted -  McDonald's became a success.

Every thing was standardised. The process was made into an assembly line. Kroc was obsessive that everything should be followed exactly -even down to the bun having 178 sesame seeds!

This all led a culture that was successful but dazzlingly unsympathetic to innovation; the formula worked.  A fifth of all meals eaten in the USA eaten in a McDonalds. This might account for obesity problems!

And if you think of it this can all be applied to schools.

The Ministry will determine the educational standards and 'best practice' processes to be followed.

Schools will report to the Ministry and the Ministry will ( Kroc like ) ensure any diversions from the standards are sorted out, or schools will be 'helped' by Ministry 'officials' - 'we are here to help you'.

Schools  will have to comply and to achieve fidelity to Ministry goals they will inevitably  cut back on areas of the curriculum not tested. As much as Mrs Tolley says this will not happen it has already has happened in the UK and the US.

Ministry 'helpers' will be  contracted to assist in the designated targeted standardised areas. ERO will complement the surveillance culture.

It will be  all about accountability, measurement, targets, efficiency and recorded progress -and sticks and carrots.

Innovation, diversity and creativity  -once the hallmark of our highly regarded system will go out the window.

Tough times for the creative.

No need for leadership ( what little there was) the future will be all about management.

I am pleased  I am out of it!

Only Ronald McDonalds (teachers, principals and students) will thrive -  the  different, the creative, and  those from different cultures will all be forced into a Procrustean curriculum bed  with only three slats - reading, writing and arithmetic.

We will have returned to Victorian days just as we need to encourage all the creativity and talent we can.

At least our future failure will be documented!



Anonymous said...

The future couldn't be made more clear!

The trouble is most schools are well on the way to achieve this scenario already. Principals have not been shown to be courageous leaders. Never have been. Some schools aready stream for maths and reading and this is well on the way to a McDonald's specialised mass production line - just toss in a bit of art and music and all will be well.

Students are in for a thin diet that will leave their passions and talents untouched!

Integtrated programmes based on personalised learning are the future but are now on hold. Anyway few schools ever put such programmes into practice.

The educational clock has been turned back 50 years.

Sad times.

Alison said...

I have just shared this on my Facebook page - it needs as many readers as possible!

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks Alison - I am pleased I am no longer involved in teaching. The National Party seems skilled at telling simplistic half truths -and Key likes using the phrase against opponents 'intellectual honesty'!

Anonymous said...

You seem to have more faith in principals taking concerted action than they deserve - they are, and always have been, a conservative bunch not keen on sticking their necks out. Creativity rarely leaves individual classrooms and this is where it will have to survive the next few years. It was always creative teachers that led the way.

Allan said...

Well targetted article, Bruce. It is distressing to see that the doomsayers amongst us will be proved right. Be able to say "I told you so' brings no satisfaction at all. The ever lingering questions:
Why didn't the whole primary education sector come out with guns blazing?
Why did so many principals meekly comply even though very uncomfortable in principle with NS?
Why did so many people not bother to read the information and follow the links to overseas evidence?
Why did some principals think NS was the best thing since the proverbial sliced bread?
Why did BOTs from protesting schools receive no support from NZ School Trustees Association?
And so on and so on..

These developments are no accident nor are they are a New Zealand issue. National's policy has imported the worst from the USA, and is linked up with developments there. We can say this forever and a day, but seemingly there are many who don't believe this.

Circle 2014 on your calendars, if National are returned to power tonight. 2014 is the next election year, by the way, if you want to polish your crystal ball to see what National would like to do in 2015 and beyond if reelected in 2014.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Not doomsayers Allan but more those so caught up in self interest, or lacking in intellectual insight, to be able to see the wood for the trees.

I was with a few principals yesterday - seemed unconcerned about their fate. A bit like turkeys looking fowards to Christmas!

Such people, through their inaction, or lack of courage, have discounted the future ( mostly their students) to their peril.

We will be shown to be right - we now work towards 2014.

The battle continues - tides will turn.

Anonymous said...

I tried to fight this battle. I am a school principal. But too many of my colleagues rolled over too soon. The NZPF were useless from the start and only slightly better now. NZEI seemed complicit in that as the battle over negotiations went on and on they didn't address this - the most important of issues. Even worse settlement came out of the blue after a rather dodgy on line vote preceded by no formal meetings that would have allowed discussion.I can't morally continue in my job so its Aussie for me (and I know that they are battling similar things too). I'll be back when the government changes to help fix this mess.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Sorry to see you go but I can't blame you. Teachers were just too wimpy or had their heads down so low they couldn't see what was coming!