Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 A time for educationalists' courage - or more compliance and conformity?

Teachers in New Zealand are currently enjoying their summer holidays - let's hope they are using the time to energize themselves for , with an election in New Zealand coming later in the year, this energy will be important if teachers are to reclaim their reputation as creative teachers.

For me, if we don't have a change of government , and if New Zealand teachers don't appreciate the need for them to add their voice to the education debate and get behind political parties that will support their creativity ( or the placing of the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum  central), then it will be time to give up my own personal crusade.

It would be a shame if New Zealand teachers were to be sidelined as in Australian and England and , of course, the USA. In these countries the neo liberal Global Education Reform Movement has all but silenced their voices.

I appreciate that there still are creative teachers, even a few creative principals, that have not yet given in but far too many have gone along with such reactionary policies as National Standards - mind you there never were that many such creative individuals. The last decades have not been kind to the truly creative - it has been years of compliance, control and conformity.

So, through this blog, I will do my best to encourage teacher and school creativity.

 Below a blog well worth a read 'Will teachers fall for anything?'   Extracts:

'In my recent experiences it appears that even the most steadfast teachers are beginning to crumble under the weight of centralised government and the philosophies they are imposing on classroom teachers. It is almost as if teachers are simply too scared to have any sort of philosophy about their teaching practice, how children learn.'

'And yet in the current education climate, teachers are struggling to stay true to their own philosophies, or to develop them in the first place. With never ending expectations placed on schools to deliver to standards set by central government, teacher philosophies appear to be lost in translation. There does not seem to be time for teachers to simply reflect on ‘why are we doing this’ and ‘what is the point of this for our children’ and ‘does this sit well with what I believe about children and their learning’? As a result, teachers are being swept up with the latest fads and practices, some of which have no correlation with their underlying philosophies.'

'Perhaps if teachers return to their beliefs around what is important for them in their classrooms, and conversations in staff rooms centre around philosophy, that teachers will begin to grow that confidence in having some autonomy in their teaching practice. If there is an ever increasing number of teachers knowing what is is they will stand for, the impact of central government may not be quite as far reaching as it would like to become.'
A second blog:Isn't it time for teachers to have some fun!! Another good read.


'The New Zealand national curriculum was heralded as a leader at its conception. It was to allow teachers to teach students of the 21st century. A focus on thinking skills rather than knowledge content. Recognition that our future population will be needing skills that will allow innovation, flexibility and inquiry, rather than the ability to recall a vast bevy of facts and figures. Encouraging our kiwi learners to become forward thinkers able to problem solve, hypothesise, invent and create. This curriculum is still current…….it is still the curriculum legislated that teachers in New Zealand mainstream schools must follow. So why then do teachers feel they have to be permitted to teach in the way that the curriculum allows for.'.

 '....the current NZ curriculum. This curriculum gives permission for teachers to deliver a different programme in their classroom. One that is more relevant to today’s students and our future leaders than ever before. Yet teachers still feel they have to teach as they have always done. School managers are indirectly reinforcing this by keeping on keeping on, rather than examining the needs in their classrooms. Children that are disengaged, children lacking in motivation, children struggling to access level one of the curriculum. If teachers were to be courageous and revolutionise their teaching program, would these children continue to be disengaged? Would there be a lack of motivation in the classroom, if children were suddenly encouraged to explore themes relevant to them? If the teacher and school communicated to their students that their thoughts and ideas were important and worthy of further investigation? By teachers working alongside students, instead of operating a top-down fill-up-the-vessel approach, the skills children would then be exposed to develop would be numerous.'

Couldn't agree more


Anonymous said...

Look forward to your blogs Bruce. Let's hope school principals can see the big picture of where their compliance is taking them before it is too late. I have my doubts!

Bruce Hammonds said...

I am afraid that most principals are like the person who came to drain the swamp and found themselves up to their backsides in crocodiles - somewhat distracted by energy draining compliance tasks. Some have even got to like what they are complying with - particularly high decile or traditional schools. Love to be proved wrong!