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Chopper chops science education

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, October 22nd, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: education, national/act government - Tags: , ,

National’s Anne Tolley, our education minister who thought that taking a ‘helicopter view’ of something meant taking a ride in a chopper, is cutting education resources so we can have an additional measure of how well kids are learning.

$10 million is being taken out of extra support for Science, PE, and art teaching in primary schools to fund National’s gimmicky National Standards.

So, National is going to take away funding for education of children in science, a vital area for our economic development, to pay for another layer of assessment.

It’s not that the educators are automatically against this, if Tolley could show evidence that spending this money on National Standards rather than on teaching kids was going to lead to better educational outcomes, they would be all for it. But she can’t:

“[At the New Zealand Principals’ Conference] she was asked to provide the research and she hasn’t fronted up yet”

hands up for learningIn fact, the international evidence is growing that National Standards are bad for educational outcomes.

Ridiculously, Tolley suggests that these cuts may be substituted for other cuts next year. Is she actually this stupid? Does she think that thousands of experts funded by this money to will just sit around, waiting and hoping that the money to employ them will reappear next year? What idiocy.

As the the Primary Principal Association reps explain, you can’t go chopping and changing every year. You’ve got to actually plan.

This is just another example of how this government’s gimmicky, headline-grabbing policies turn out to be wasteful and useless in practice.

24 comments on “Chopper chops science education ”

  1. r0b 1

    Like the stupid hypocritical ACE cuts this shows just how little grasp the Nat ministers have on reality. You can’t just change your mind every year. You can’t let these specialist helpers go for a year (or two, or how many) and then expect to pick them up again as if nothing had happened. Once you destroy infrastructure it’s gone.

    In short, a year spent beating more on the three R’s (when so much is done already!) isn’t enough to make a real difference to outcomes for NZ (in fact it might make things worse). But it is enough to destroy other valuable teaching infrastructure.

    As Marty said in the post – schools need to be able to plan!

    Listen to an Otago academic who actually knows something about this stuff on Nine to Noon this morning.

  2. Swimmer 2

    She is slicin’ and dicin’ the education system, all that blood going everywhere.

  3. randal 3

    she doesn t care is right. they know they will be out at the next election so now they are just causing as much trouble as they can.

  4. Zaphod Beeblebrox 4

    Someone please send her a copy of “Six Thinking Hats” by Edward De Bono. Then she might understand that learning and thinking is not an innate faculty, that children have to be encouraged to think. Parrot learning the times table or the alphabet might be good if you want a country of accountants or bureaucrats but its a pretty crappy way to go if you want to create anything good.

  5. lprent 5

    Tolley is simply a moron from everything I’ve seen.

    However, it doesn’t surprise me that she is chopping it from science. After all, NACT basically have no idea about what science does.

    Just look at Nick Smith and the ‘debate’ over the ETS. Obviously science is dangerous….

    • BLiP 5.1

      Judging by his flim-flam on ACC, he’s not particularly numerate either. It would be interesting to see if any of the front bench could pass school cert today.

      • NickS 5.1.1

        Well, Smith has a PhD in engineering, so it’s more straight lying rather than incompetence..

  6. George D 6

    There doesn’t seem to be any way to describe the current Government’s approach to actual experts in any subject whatsoever as anything but utter disdain.

    Witness for example health, climate, transport, foreign policy, and now education

    It’s symptomatic of a worldview that sees things in simple right and wrong terms, and sees simple “common sense” solutions to problems. Distressingly prevalent in this Government.

  7. This is bizarre. They make noises about the three Rs but then damage the teaching of science.

    Tolley really resembles a proverbial elephant in a china shop. How much damage will she do?

  8. toad 8

    Kennedy Graham just asked Tolly:

    Does she agree with the British Conservative Party’s Education Spokesperson that ‘a broad and demanding curriculum far from undermining reading, writing, and arithmetic reinforces attainment in these core skills’; or is it the case that under her watch the ‘three Rs’ really stand for reduce, regiment, and ruin the curriculum?

    She was conveniently absent from the House, and Double Dipton fudged on her behalf.

  9. Less funding for arts I can maybe understand, even PE, but Science? That is a bad move.

    • Galeandra 9.1

      Like, design and visual creativity don’t have a place in stimulating intellect, or supporting making & marketing? Really?

  10. toad 10

    Guess she’s consistent. She’s got the junk food back into schoold so more kids get fat, and now she’s cut funding for physical education they’ll get really fat.

    • QoT 10.1

      Seriously, toad? You think we could critique idiotic funding cuts to education without relying on stereotypes of fat people?

      … Oh, I forgot. Being fat is the worst possible thing that could happen to a person.

    • felix 10.2

      Perhaps “unhealthy” is the word you’re looking for. Obesity is an issue but it’s only one of many.

  11. Scott 11

    Key talks about the need to close the gap with Australia. To do that we need innovators and creative people. Because our current economic model won’t get there.

    Cutting funding for science and art seems like a really dumb thing to do – one of the dumbest things this administration has come up with yet.

    It appears the Nats want the next generation to be accountants*, rather than scientists and innovators.


    * I have nothing against accountants. Some of my best friends etc etc…

  12. George D 12

    At least they’re consistent in cutting education. They’re cutting teacher salaries too.

  13. A Nonny Moose 13

    This National Government has absolutely no concept of a longterm view. If you want functioning, well rounded adults, you’ve got to give them access to a well rounded education.

    Many may argue that the arts/science/PE curriculum isn’t “going away”, and that kids of talent will find what they need. But a child’s talent isn’t always innate or easily recognized – sometimes they have to be encouraged to try a different subject, or mentored to better themselves.

    If teachers are being forced to do more beauracratic BS, more kids will be lost through the cracks. Education is more than just parroting by rote and lerning to rite noice.

  14. This is what happens when you put someone not very smart in charge of an important portfolio.

  15. What is really interesting about this decision is the justification.

    The Nats say that it is necessary because the primary school system is failing 20% of the kids. The implication is that the teachers are failing the kids. There is a sense that they (teachers) need to be punished for this by taking this resource off them.

    The policy suggests that with a change of approach the bottom 20% can be lifted over the line. There is no discussion about if the goal is either attainable or possible.

    One of the silly things about the policy is that it will hit the teaching of those kids who tend to be good in science, so that teaching of the more capable will be harmed.

    Is this really intended? Does Tolley know what she is wanting to achieve? Does she know what she is doing?

  16. sk 16

    This is such an appallingly crap decision. National Standards have been a failure in UK, and this post points out, the international evidence is all one way – against the NACT view.

    One month Key announces a global initiative with Obama on agricultural research and global warming, the next month they demand the firing of science advisors in primary education. Go figure

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