Ko Hikaroroa te mauka
Ko Waikowaiti te awa
Ko ngā waka ; ko Uruao, ko Araiteuru ko Takitimu hoki
Ko Waitaha, Mamoe, Kai Tahu ka Iwi
Ko Ka hapū ko Kāti Huirapa,
Ko te marae te Puketeraki
Ko Pat Newman ahau
Tena Koe Minister Hekia Parata
I pen this Open Email to you, with the purpose of saying respectfully that your arguments re: the proposed changes to class numbers, staffing ratios are so false, that you must be aware that they have little to do with doing what is right for children. Rather they have more to do with politicians using glib phrases to try and justify the further ruination of an education system, that was once the best in the world. Minister it is not you and your colleagues, nor is it me and my colleagues who will suffer from your changes. It is the children of this nation!
Minister, there may have been 42 in your classes at school
BUT WHEN YOU AND I ATTENDED SCHOOL:
1. The Behavioural and Special Needs Children were rarely in the classroom, being found jobs in the garden, cleaning, rubbish collecting, working with caretaker etc…..
2. The numbers leaving school in your day without the ability to read and write were hidden by full employment…….
3. There was little testing, little remedial work, lots of whole class regurgitation…….
4. You were lucky to have one meeting a week…
5. Parental expectations were considerably lower….
6. Teaching was basically rote learning, a system that works for low level learning but certainly is not a method that will cover the educational needs of our current generation.
7. The huge number of children attending school with severe social and behavioural problems were not there. They were expelled…. (Not saying that is what we should be doing at all but that was the reality then…..
8. The 100000 New Zealand children we have on drugs for ADHD etc. for some reason were not apparent…. Perhaps because parent s had time to work and talk to their children…. Perhaps because of whatever reasons, they didn’t seem to exist in our societies classrooms when you and I were pupils!!
It is being blatantly dishonest to the public when to infer/state that a few extra kids in a class won’t make much difference. You know as well as I know, that where your cuts will hurt is the very groups that you say you care about:
- those needing extra help, those falling behind, included in those, are many of our own children that you say you care about…
Why do I say this, because it is the ability to use the staffing schedule at the level it is at, to provide staffing for individualised or small group extra learning, to take a group of children out of the class for a time each day over say a term, and provide them with intensive help.
You know this, and although I would never say or think it, I have heard others say that it is blatant political dishonesty to hide the effects of your changes from the parents of this country.
I include Dr Snooks latest address, perhaps it may rekindle the fires and expectations that I know you once held for children’s learning
Ka kite ano
Graduation Address, Massey University, 16th May 2012 – Emeritus Professor Ivan Snook
The ritual of today’s ceremony is an ancient one but it speaks to contemporary values: it acknowledges talent, hard work, learning and professional dedication. I join in congratulating you on your achievement and in honouring those – parents, teachers, families, friends, university staff – who have helped you to get here. Most of you crossing the stage this morning are working or will be working in educational settings: early childhood centres, schools, tertiary institutions – or in other organisations which support formal education.
Much is heard these days of the importance of literacy and numeracy and of studies which lead to employment and support the economy. These are important but my simple message to you today is that you have a higher calling: to educate your students, opening their minds and hearts to the treasures contained in our cultural traditions.
Literacy is important as a tool for living but more importantly it opens the door to the stories of peoples past and present—opening up a lifetime of enjoyment, engagement and creative contribution. It reveals to us the rich treasures of literature, history and the arts, helps us to make ethical judgements and enables us to make a positive contribution to society. It would be sad if we improved reading scores while our people read less and were less engaged with the cultural world they inherit.
Numeracy too is important as a tool for living but more importantly, it opens up for us the scientific traditions which have been slowly built up over the centuries: by hardworking people carving a living from a hostile environment, by creative geniuses theorising in their studies and by hard working scientists in their laboratories. It would be tragic if the stress on numeracy were to be accompanied by a reduction in scientific understanding—as a recent report has suggested.
True education has the following features:
1. It has no immediate end. At the present time there is a fixation on narrow and immediate outcomes but the true outcomes of education are manifest only in later life when people live more critically, more creatively, more ethically.
2. Education opens minds – sometime dangerously so (that is why it is so often feared). This is opposed to current movements which value conformists and unthinking consumers.
3. Education is critical, especially of grand claims advanced by people in power. The educated person asks: whose interests are being served by these claims or these policies?
4. Education poses ultimate questions of value: Not just, “will this work?” but “will this lead to the welfare of people?”
I have suggested you are called to education. A calling was once named a vocation. Today this term survives in the expression vocational education (that is, training to make one’s living). The great educational thinker, John Dewey pointed out 100 years ago that it is a distortion of the whole meaning of vocation to narrow it to our paid work. It includes this, of course, but also extends to our whole life: as spouses, parents, neighbours, friends, church-goers, community members, and citizens of a democratic society. In this sense all good education should be vocational: preparing us for our full participation in the life of our society. It is a perversion to restrict it to paid employment.
Of course, there are enormous challenges. We have to ask
It is strange that when the business world is asked what they want from the education system they say that they want employees who are creative, flexible and able to work in a team. But then they support educational policies which lead to the very opposite: people who are timid, inflexible and competitive.
Only you can come up with answers to these questions. I can only urge you to
Quite recently….last week in fact… someone wrote that the the sensitive teacher is always
“Searching to find a way forward….
and delighting in the magic moments When beauty and truth are expressed” (Kelvin Smythe)
“Delighting in the magic moments when beauty and truth are expressed.”
May you have many such moments. Whether you do will depend not on glossy brochures, smart slogans, or flowery mission statements, but on the personal qualities you bring to teaching and how you use them. I wish you well in your task of helping to create the future.
Principal Pat Newman T.T.C. Dip Ed(Waikato) B.Ed(Massey) Dip.Tchg, ANZPF