Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Education Review Office School Evaluation and some better Criteria for a 21st C classroom.


Schools are currently working their way through Education Review Office Frameworks and Evaluation Indicators for their School Charters.

Seems like a good idea but, to my mind,  a rather long winded complicated  time consuming ask for schools to comply with. If it does improve student success it will be worth it. If not just another task devised by technocrats who have forgotten what it is like to face up to the reality of school leadership and classroom teaching.
Another task to to please the Ministry/ERO

There are obviously excellent suggestions included in the list of indicators.  It is all part of the Ministry  ideology of making education more efficient through increased standardization, accountability and , with school comparison, competition

It would be more valuable for principals and teachers to read Sir Ken Robinson's latest book Creative Schools - Revolutionizing  Education from the Ground Up'.
A must read book.

Note the phrases 'creative schools' ( impossible  to achieve if tied up with compliance constraints) and 'from the ground up'.

If principals haven't read this book they have missed out on a book which values their ideas as the basis for school improvement rather complying to top down requirements. 

Sir Ken believes that  schools will only be transformed when they develop creative approaches to teaching and learning and writes that the standards approach,  that underpins current New Zealand education, has failed world wide.

A paper published by the NZCER 'Supporting future orientated teaching and learning- a New Zealand perspective' provides a simple set of  guidelines to inform teaching beyond 'ticking the boxes'.

This paper states that ' current educational systems are  not sufficient to address and support learning in the 21st C.  

Below are the questions the paper asks of schools:

1 Is your school personalizing learning basing 'learning around the learner rather than the learner being required to fit the system'? The authors write 'we are not yet seeing the the kinds of "deep personalisation"  argued for by future orientated educationalists'  among them Sir Ken Robinson.

2 Is your school educating for diversity - 'a diversity that encompasses everyone variations'?  A system that 'addresses the needs strengths, interests and aspirations' of all students'. Does you school focus on developing gifts and talents of all students?

3  Is your school ' re-conceptualizing the the roles and responsibilities of teachers and students'? Are your students engaged using knowledge in inventive ways, in new contexts and combinations'; 'equipping people to do things with knowledge' and for students to 'solve problems and find solutions to solve problems and find solutions to challenges as they arise on a " just in time" basis'. The paper states bluntly that this development is not apparent in current schools.

4  Is your school involved in ongoing professional development to achieve such personalisation, diversity 'to change the scripts' for both teachers and students?

5 Has your school developed 'real' partnership with your community. Is your school making use of  expertise of the school community to solve problems?

 The paper asks is your school driven 'by a coherent set of shared ideas about the future of schooling and its purpose and role in building New Zealand's future?

Does your school have a set of learning beliefs that underpin all your teaching and one that teachers( and students and parents) can articulate?

The paper also mentions that (1) current and emerging technologies 'have not yet revolutionized learning' and that this will only develop when teachers  see the potential to transform learning and teaching and (2)  clustering of schools will only be successful when they provide 'opportunities for professional learning and expanding ideas about what is possible'. This is beyond sharing current 'best practice'.

The authors write that 'our education systems and practices are often set up in ways that do not support these principles to operate in practice' and continue, 'we need to reconfigure it in new , more knowledge-centred ways',  and that we need a 'paradigm shift in practice.'

For me this means in the primary school there is a need to make inquiry ( knowledge gaining and using) central and challenging the reactionary use of ability grouping in literary and numeracy and the compartmentalized subject teaching of secondary schools. And for all school to focus on developing the gifts and talents of all students.

And this brings us back to the value of energy being diverted by recent Ministry Evaluation complicated  demands and the need to read the full  NZCER paper and to follow the 'ground -up' revolution written about so powerfully by Sir Ken Robinson

Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Good to see you giving this some thought Bruce. We are just too busy doing our best to get on with the job and in the process lose sight of the forest by focusing on the trees. And, I fear, many principals don't like to admit that it is too confusing.

Bruce said...

Your comment reminds me of a saying of pioneer teacher Elwyn Richardson :'It's hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your backside in aligators'.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered that many current principals , appointed for their 'managerial skills', actually believe in what they been asked to do. Sadly they know no better! The creativity that you, and such people as Sir Ken Robinson believe in, is beyond them.

Bruce said...

If you are right it would be a real worry but my feeling is that there are still critical principals . Principals have little choice but to comply but they don't have to believe what they no choice but to do so.

Bruce said...

This a comment I wrote in 2004 to an early blog - things have got worse since then. Maybe a lot off principals are still pretending?

That a number of principals and teachers seem to be stressed, by not quite knowing what the Ministry wants of them, reminds me of a R.D. Laing's 1970 poem.


There is something I don't know
That I am supposed to know,
I don't know what it is I don't know.
And feel I look stupid
If I seem both not to know it
And not know what it is I don't know.
Therefore , I pretend to know it.
This is nerve wracking since I don't know what I pretend to know
Therefore, I pretend I know everything.

If making meaning, and feeling in control, is vital to an individual's mental health, then feeling in a 'knot' is a real problem. It causes, what one writer calls, 'a corrosion of character.

John Pearce said...

Hmm... I came across this piece and read it thinking it was about English education. The shame is, the description fits perfectly. What is it that causes so many "outside" schools to bring so much pressure on teachers and principals to focus on such a narrow curriculum and even narrower testing regimes? I have recently worked (separately) with large groups of school governors/Rotarians/parents and teachers asking them to list the values, attributes and characteristics they wanted their "leaving students" to have. You'll already know what they listed: tolerance, care, respect, emotional intelligence etc etc. The same answers have come up, over many years. So, in this climate of ever narrowing focuses I fear that what most reasonable people want being squeezed out for some kind of dogma. I am certainly not arguing against academic achievement - I am arguing for a balanced approach. I refuse to become cynical - we just have to keep arguing for a balanced, humanitarian, value led educational process.