Friday, June 13, 2014

Educational Readings - 99 days to the New Zealand Elections: A turning point or more of the same?

99 day to vote for the future of creative teaching
By Bruce Hammonds

Allan Alach, the regular complier of Educational Readings, is away holidaying in the UK and Europe for a few weeks but plans to take up compiling the weekly Educational Readings from next week Geography is no barrier in the age of the internet. In the meantime I have put together this set of readings with the NZ elections in mind.
The Global Education Reform Movement ( GERM)
Corporate control of teaching

This blog/reading is deliberately biased towards critiquing the current neo- liberal ideology that has infected Anglo/American Education.  The Global Educational Reform Movement as it is known - often referred to as 'GERM'.

It is important for educators to appreciate that the business/private enterprise approach is not restricted to education it applies to all aspects of public service organizations. Behind it all is the power of the big corporations and the business elite and, at risk, is a  true participatory democracy that focuses  on protecting the common good for all citizens.

It is well to remember that it was the business elite that created the Global Financial Crisis  (GFC) of 2008  And  also, as a result of decades of  the market forces’ ideology,  Anglo-American societies have developed  very unequal  winner/loser societies that weaken the social fabric of their communities. Inequality in these countries is a growing issue; the 'rich have got richer and the poor poorer!'

The upcoming New Zealand Elections a possible turning point?.

It is vitally important that opposition political parties present an alternative to this neo-liberal business ideology but so far any sense of a viable alternative has yet to capture the public's imagination. The public needs to face up to the realisation there is no level playing field and that wealth does not trickle down and that the growing inequality will increasingly cause social breakdown

There is an alternative.

The market forces model is not the answer, it is the problem. We need a new vision based on creating the appropriate opportunities or conditions to ensure all people benefit. A vision that values the common good not one biased towards private greed; an approach based on economic and environmental sustainability; one that values collaboration as much as competition; a vision that does not lend itself to measuring only the easy targets.

Transforming education is central to the development this more equitable and innovative society.

Voices such as educationalists like Sir Ken Robinson and Howard Gardner are calling for a transformation of education (not reform which is more of the same at best); an education system that creates the conditions to develop the talents and passions of all students.

In this respect schools (as with society) are facing an opportunity gap rather than an achievement gap.

The coming elections will either cement in and amplify the neo-liberal ideology or be the beginning of a fairer society, providing opportunities for all; one valuing individual creativity and respect for sustaining the environment.

Alan welcomes suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to him at

This week’s homework!

This week it has been hard to ignore the debate around the governments Investing in Educational Success (IES) proposals involving the establishment of 'super'  principals and teachers to help schools deemed as at risk. 
Straight shooter

If want to clarify your thoughts read Pat Newmans opinion piece against the proposals in the May Education Review and make sure you read the contrary comment by Tom Parsons from the Secondary point of view.

And if you havent read Kelvin Smythes response visit the links below. The NZEI is against the IES proposal but where does the NZPPF stand? Tom Parsons make the secondary principals approval clear.

Be Afraid
And if you arent certain about the desire to capture schools by private corporations read Be Afraid; the Privatisation of Public Education in the latest Education Aotearoa by Michelle Nixon.

Some thoughtful videos sharing the big ideas from the Jan 2014 NZEI   Taking Stock. Moving Forward Conference.

From England : Meg Maquire- and coming soon to NZ!!
Meg's presentation was based on how teachers  face up to the challenges of
Meg Maquire
holding on to their teaching beliefs while accommodating the corrosive effects of
league tables

 The emotional and intellectual demands of teaching, she says, are compounded by the politically inspired crisis in literacy and numeracy, a public nostalgia for rote learning and accelerated calls for accountability.

She also talks about growth of private school academies (charter schools). In England, she says,  is all business jargon raising standards, drowning out the ethos of caring and doing your best for children -  and the notion of public educations role preserving democracy .

From The United States: David Berliner the vital  ( and ignored) issue of poverty.

David Berliner
Berliner says that recent research in the US shows that only 10% of variation between schools is down to teachers and we do miracles with our 10% of a kids time.

The crisis in education is being manufactured by people like Bill Gates. Mean scores in International Tests are about cohorts .. not to do with the quality of teaching. There is a lot of lot of inequality in countries with remnants of British Capitalism and class system; in contrast in high scoring  Finland only 4% of children are living in poverty.

Not quite the real truth!!
Berliner calls Prime Minister John Key a liar when he said  announcing the Investing in Education Success ( IES) proposal,that a mountain of research shows that the quality of teaching inside the classroom is the biggest influence on kids achievement. Every researcher, Berliner says, in the Western world know that is not true.

From Australia Bob Lingard  says that testing technologies are taking over from ideas in education.
Lingard criticises the OECDs  slogan you cant improve what you dont measure and that its Programme for International  Student Assessment (PISA) is increasingly
Bob Lingard
influencing local policy and that many of its tests are funded by huge US corporate interests

Lingard talks about the negative effects of the National Australian Assessment Programme Literacy and Numeracy Tests ( NAPLAN) in Australia. If the National  Government returns this could well be the model to extend the power of National Standards.

Now for something positive : Education is about building character.

"he punitive cloud hanging over teachers is darker today than it's been in a long time," writes Nancy Flanagan. "Let's not make it worse by taking the human element out of teacher evaluation, in favour of numbers."

From Bruce Hammonds Oldies but Goodies

There are well over a thousand postings on my blog and the blog data show which ones are being read each hour, day, week,month , year and all time. One that is popular at the moment relates to the theme of these readings is;

The Corporate takeover of Society

New bureaucratic practices are now well in place in all public organisations and increasingly in education. Corporate jargon is now common in this new educational environment  inputs, outputs, targets, key performance indicators, performance
The 1% knows best!
management, efficiency, accountability, bench marking and quality assurance.

Corporate domination, to be put in place,  needs an acquiescent and a disciplined workforce.

The corporate model is pushed on schools by policy makers  who have little or no experience of the reality of the classroom ignoring  the voice of educationalists.


 Valuing creative teachers.

Value creative teachers
With the election drawing near the choices are sharpening or ought to be.  The survival of a creative education. valuing diversity over standardisation. will depend on who is the government post-election..

 Super teachers; Not the answer
Time for courageous school leadership.We dont need travelling 'super principals and teachers' to act as enforcers of government edicts, we need to share the ideas of creative teachers.

Inequality in New Zealand – Max Rashbrooke

There are those who  suggest that the inequality gap will become a key election issue in 2014. The divide between the richest and poorest New Zealander has widened alarmingly over recent decades- faster than in most other developed countries.

God’s own country –  once supposedly the best place to bring up kids in the world, seems no longer to be the case. A country originally founded to escape the worst of the class structure of England seems to have given up on the idea of giving a fair
go to all citizens. The view of many well off people now is that the poor are the authors of their own misfortune and only need to set about and pull up their socks and all will be well; there seems little empathy for those in difficult situations.

Is this divided  disconnected world of rich and poor to be our future? Is there an alternative


Anonymous said...

A great run down of the forces influencing he direction of education but I wonder if members of the public are aware of the issues or the alternative. So far the Labour Party have yet to capture the imagination of the public. The average citizen would have little idea of their position and unless it is made clear National will sleepwalk to victory. Then we will see their real agenda in action.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Just think it so important that all teachers appreciate the consequences of re-electing the current government. Too many teachers see themselves as apolitical - easy meat for politicians.

There are two competing agendas - both more or less invisible. Competition, privatisation and self interest and one focusing on the common good and opportunities for all New Zealanders.

The return of the National party will extend the winner/loser gap and greater inequality with all the social consequences.