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Education Standards and National Standards

Written By: - Date published: 6:01 pm, September 14th, 2011 - 50 comments
Categories: child abuse, child discipline, child welfare, culture, education, schools - Tags: ,

 

The entire, unabridged speech can be viewed here  (It comes ‘on topic’ about 6 or 7 minutes in)

50 comments on “Education Standards and National Standards”

  1. just saying 1

    Damn. Really loved his TED talk, so I’d like to see this, but my broadband is so slow nowadays (I’ve spent hours on the phone to the techies to no avail), that I can’t watch things like this without tearing my hair out atm. Is there a written text? I’ve had a look around on the link, but can’t find one.

    For those struggling with dial-up, TED talks amost always include a written text. You probably won’t find this particular talk, unfortunately . http://www.ted.com/

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Download it and then watch rather than trying to stream the video. Several tools available, I use the NetVideoHunter addon in Firefox.

      • just saying 1.1.1

        Many thanks Draco. My life is transformed (at least until I change my telco and get some speed back into the interweb). Sorry to derail Bill.

        • Deadly_NZ 1.1.1.1

          And if you use or D/Load Fire fox then use an addon called Adblock and there is a thing out there called Firetune So if you don’t know what you are doing it will open up some of the taps even wider. Or if you are happy playing I can give you some settings in the Network Http area that should get it going

          • just saying 1.1.1.1.1

            I don’t understand what you mean, – not very techno-literate.

            I would like more info, but this is off-topic, so would you mind responding in open mike?
            Thanks

  2. jenn 2

    This is great. I think his attitude is fantastic, and I really wish there was a school in NZ that subscribed to this kind of philosophy, so that when I have kids, they can go there.

    I happen to be naturally academic, so the NZ school system was not terrible for me. I did get good marks, and was never led to believe I was “stupid” – something it results in for many people with different talents.
    But at the same time, I believe the education system has done me a huge disservice. Easy success at school led me to expect it in all areas of my life (something I’m still working on), and certainly didn’t encourage hard work. And, even worse, it didn’t foster my creativity at all (in fact rather the opposite), something I have found as an adult that I actually have a fair amount of…

    If there was one famous person I could meet, it would be Ken Robinson… Fascinating.

    • Bill 2.1

      There probably is such a school in NZ. But it would just as probably cost an arm and a leg to send kids to it.

      Meanwhile, the entire public education system is a disaster and needs (in the words of KB) to be transformed; not reformed. That’s not a new insight. People have been saying similar things for decades.

      But. It appears the spiral is about to take a decidedly steep downward turn. I mean, drugging kids so their exhibited behaviours will conform to instituitional expectations!?

      Somebody tell me that’s not an absolute criminal abuse of children.

      The point isn’t to have little islands of private schooling established where the innate abilities of children are fostered and the institutions adopt more organic organisational structures. That would leave the bulk of kids on a conveyor belt to a wasteland of conformity that is mostly comprised of thwarted and destroyed human potential… and since they are most of the sum total of tomorrow’s humanity that is going to have to tackle immense environmental and resource problems, well…not hard to join the dots and take a punt at where it all ends up.

      • Ed Aotearoa 2.1.1

        Bill – your comments are bizarre. NZ’s education system ranks around 4th in the world (OECD PISA rankings). We’re actually much further along the road toward the Ken Robinson ideal than most developed countries – NZ”s self-managing schools, especially when well resourced, do pretty much what he advocates – learning tailored to individual student needs, with an emphasis on creativity. I too was naturally academic in the 1970s and 80s and found school a bit boring, but these days kids go to public schools in NZ – and they have fun, and they learn really well – my son is thriving and loves school. NZ ranks near the top on educational achievement on a number of international measures, and educationalists come from around the world to see how we do it.
        If they’re poor then kids can’t learn (sick, hungry, transient) and of course, there’re are improvements that can be made in the system – but don’t believe the National Party bullshit about the system being in crisis and one-in-five kids failing (simply not true). This manufactured crisis is just so National can get away with policies like National Standards and giving $50m to private schools.
        National Standards are a system of factory-farm education, which is why teachers are only making token gestures at implementation.
        And BTW – other OECD research shows that once you discount for family background, there is no difference between how well a child will do academically at a public or a private school. Though private schools have been shown to have higher incidences of binge drinking because the kids are under so much pressure.

        • Bill 2.1.1.1

          “…there’re are improvements that can be made in the system…”

          No, see. You are entirely missing the point. There is no point in making improvements within the current system; attempting reform. The system is anachronistic and busted.

          Why didn’t you view the vid before commenting?

          • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1.1

            As I understand it NZ schools were transformed some time ago. Interestingly enough, it seems National actually started it in the 1990s but as they didn’t get immediate results that they understood they decided to change it again. Make improvements the same way they were going and see how they go but another transformation isn’t really due for another 20 years or more. Nationals lack of long term thinking and patience has them now trying to force the schools back into the wrote learning system of the 19th century.

          • Fermionic Interference 2.1.1.1.2

            Actually Bill, Ed’s pretty accurate in what he states.
            The NZ education system has been approaching and improving upon it’s processes and the divergent learning experiments and group collaboration beginning at year 0 & 1.

            Why else would the Teachers, Principals, NZEI, PPTA & Principal assc be so keen to have NZ teachers & principals involved in professional development programs such as the literacy & numeracy projects. Or the sabbaticals to research new teaching methods or class room implementations.

            We have to transition to a new paradigm of education those in the educational system (the educationalists, teachers, principals & researchers) understand that we can’t just uproot and crash the system this will only destroy what we have which is the 4 / 5th rated system in the OECD according PISA.

            If we allow those with the knowledge of education to implement the improvements and the professional development as the research shows the way to improve the system and support and nurture all kids who enter the system.

            • Bill 2.1.1.1.2.1

              “We have to transition to a new paradigm…”

              Think about that for a sec. Transition involves reform or a series of reforms. Those reforms have a direction; that direction is pre-determined by the already established direction of that thing you are seeking to transition from.

              So you inevitably drag the baggage from the old and wind up with a ‘new’ which is just the old in new garb. Endless reform that leaves the core of the old intact.

              As Robinson points out (and I just happen to agree) the current direction of education is precisely the opposite direction from which it needs to point. And there are a host of historical and cultural reasons for that.

              We have education system that teaches students the lesson of being taught (and imbues in them a host of [necessarily limiting] norms, values, presciptions etc with a concomitant list of expectations, so-called ‘reality checks’ and so on.) We need an education system that responds to students’ desires and drives to learn…that is not bound by, or that does not judge by, the particular ‘useful’ knowledge that lends itself to a market or industrial context. The education system needs to adapt to students. Not the other was around.

              And transition cannot achieve that. Ever. (At best. At very best, a parody of the old would be the end result of transition.)

              edit. Why be so keen to hang on the fourth or fifth ranking of something that is so intrinsically wrong?

              • Ari

                I’m with Bill on this- the first thing we need to be thinking about is a model for schooling that isn’t based on year, and switching over to it straight rather than simply “reforming”. Transforming to this new model would be much more easily done in secondary schools, because they essentially already group classes by subject and ability- it’s just that they confuse “ability” for “year” most of the time. Streaming is a reform-minded approach to this: ideally kids could move from a low stream to a higher one instead of jumping a full grade if necessary though, and ideally you would continue to stream classes whenever you have enough people interested to do so.

                Because class structures are already split, we can direct that split relatively easily into a new model and experiment there.

                In primary schools and intermediates, one solution is to organise classes to different age children at the same time, (for instance, having bands of “two year classes” where you teach different things each year, so an older year and a younger year of students are always present) and focus on grouping them and making them collaborate between year groups. Because education at this level often happens in a single room every schoolday for a year, it might make sense to give them more activities that let them swap spaces for a while.

                Honestly, there are so many ways to implement a better model of education that I’m surprised nobody has tried it in a public school yet.

        • mik e 2.1.1.2

          The private schools in fact perform worse especially as they have children with all the advantages in life.What is different is the clique of elite looking after the elite which gives private schools a much bigger advantage when it comes to job prospects outside education.

    • Phaedrus 2.2

      There are quite a few schools trying to follow Robinson’s view. Probably scattered here and there, and fighting to retain this in the face of the forces of darkness (national’s standards). I’ve heard him speak and he was as marvellous and as entertaining as you’d expect.

  3. just saying 3

    Not just kids.
    I was prescribed it, and took it briefly due to a problem concentrating. It helped, but I felt like an accountant (or how I imagine it feels to be an accountant…)

  4. Interesting video.  Sorry, a long comment coming …

    The work comparing convergent and divergent thinking has been around for a long time – IQ tests were often criticised for not having questions like “how many uses can you think of for a brick” (that was the version I heard a few decades ago). It’s the difference between solving problems that can be tightly specified (Turing’s famous proof, for example, that anything that can be specified as a series of logical transformations can be computed by a computing machine) and, instead, coming up with new possibilities.

    Industrial society has relied upon solving problems through converging on a solution and once that solution is found, mass producing it by following the recipe; in a similar way, natural selection solves the problems by generating many possible variants and culling them. Of course, it also then madly replicates the successful variant – just as happened in industrial society.

    I think that Tim Harford character has just written a book about the importance of failures in modern economies – same idea (saw it in a bookshop, forget what it’s called). Creativity/evolution is like that.

    Sadly, though, the ‘successful variants’ in our modern economies (successful companies) then have to get the rest of us just to follow the ‘success recipe’ – i.e., we have to stop being creative and just follow the successful instructions (again).

    The problem, though, is more than education. As pointed out in the video, education ‘systems’ are produced by social and economic systems. One reason we have the kind of education system we have is that it remains true that, for most people, the path to material survival is not to be creative but to be an ‘operator’ of instructions.

    Sure there are some hi-tech opportunities (that pay well) for a particular expression of ‘creativity’ but, for the most part, the way to make a crust is to ‘learn’ (be trained) to follow a particular set of instructions. Turning out a lot of creative, innovative individuals could be a bit cruel if creativity is not a major path to (successful) material existence. It’s not the education system that needs to be transformed, it’s the socio-economic system.

    The education system will follow, as it did with the industrial revolution. That education system very effectively replaced the classic form of intergenerational (mother -> daughter, father -> son) ‘education’ that simultaneously transmitted the practical and cultural knowledge required to survive (and which has existed in most societies previously, and still in many today) with the institutional form with which we are now so familiar. It was actually fought tooth and nail by many parents (and by most colonised cultures) as it involved dismantling social systems within a generation. Very effective at that it was too.

    In brief, I don’t think you change society by changing the education system. I think changes in the socio-economic system are far more likely to lead to changes in education processes. Perhaps that is, in fact, starting to happen (there was that other RSAnimation on another thread that DTB linked to which suggests some companies are doing things differently by allowing autonomy, purpose and the like) – I don’t know. But it seems to me that that is the directional flow.

    On the ADHD matter, it’s blindingly obvious that the modern world requires vastly increased amounts of what is called ‘voluntary’ (or deliberate) attention by psychologists. ‘Voluntary attention’ contrasts with automatic/involuntary attention. The latter is what you experience when you are ‘naturally’ interested in something – there’s no effort required so your attention ‘involuntarily’ latches onto things.

    Ironically, ‘voluntary’ attention is a bit of a misnomer. It refers to the attention you use a lot when you have to learn something (attend to something) that you aren’t naturally interested in but that others might require you to attend to – hence you have to focus your attention ‘voluntarily’.

    Today, we have to do that a lot. What that does is deplete the cognitive resources that we use to inhibit/constrain our attention. That is, it takes a lot more effort not to attend to other things (be ‘distracted’) that interest us more than what we have to focus on. Some psychologists argue that the modern world is very good at depleting those inhibitory resources, which leads to the common experience of mental fatigue (that also happens when we have to spend too long attending to something that, initially, might even naturally interest us).

    There is some hope, apparently. Google ‘attention restoration hypothesis’: the idea is that natural environments, because they are inherently fascinating, etc., reduce the need for voluntary attention – by providing lots of opportunities for involuntary attention – and therefore allow our inhibitory resources to ‘replenish’/restore.

    Kids have no problem being interested in the world, it’s just that – especially as they get older – ‘we’ want them to attend to things that they don’t want to attend to (so they can get jobs/survive).  Coercion (compulsory schooling), instilling anxiety (constant testing and reports) and medication are all ways to get that to happen.

    • rosy 4.1

      “the idea is that natural environments, because they are inherently fascinating, etc., reduce the need for voluntary attention – by providing lots of opportunities for involuntary attention – and therefore allow our inhibitory resources to ‘replenish’/restore.”

      Interesting. Two of my children are creative types who had problems with the school environment. When they were young I noticed one could be ‘refreshed’ by bush-walking – even in a small grove in an urban environment (he had an unusual mix of interest in art and science). However this didn’t work for the other one. Finally I noticed that for this child the same restorative effect could be obtained by water – rivers, streams, the sea (she was more into descriptives – art and creative writing). The third was more relaxed in a school environment and so long as he was out and about doing stuff regularly didn’t have the same issues as the other two.

      I always reckoned school (as it was) was bad for their health. Primary school now, for their children seems to have far more diverse learning styles. I’m hoping this diversity remains.

    • Bill 4.2

      Long comment right back at you 🙂

      Turning out a lot of creative, innovative individuals could be a bit cruel if creativity is not a major path to (successful) material existence. It’s not the education system that needs to be transformed, it’s the socio-economic system.

      The education system will follow, as it did with the industrial revolution.

      The problem with that is quite simply that those emerging from the education system are conditioned and so will generally lack the attributes or outlooks necessary to transform current socio-economic models. They will (mostly) have an investment in the status quo – a degree of material success, privilage and position predicated on market/industrial norms that they will be loathe to let go of. (Those that are cast aside as irrelevancies will also lack the wherewithall to imagine and formulate solutions to the various predicaments that will confront them.)

      I think we see this happening around us today. Succesful people tend to favour reform over revolution (tranformation) and unsuccesful people tend to get swamped by the really bad situations they find themselves in. They might occasionally riot or whatever, but there is arguably a growing propensity to self medicate in an attempt to numb out or cope with really atrocious life situations.

      Even where mass uprisings occur (Tunisia, Egypt…and this was also true of the former ‘Eastern Bloc’) after the initial reactionary phase is over, people just don’t seem to know what to do. There is a sort of ‘aimless milling’ before a varient of the former framework of control and possibilities is reasserted.

      The only instance that I’ve experienced whereby a radical, sustainable working alternative to the dominant socio-economic model was proposed and implemented, was that which came from people who had been schooled along the lines proposed or favoured by Sir Ken Robinson. (Summerhill) What I find quite fascinating about what they did was that there was no overt political agenda driving them, it came down simply to them expressing their collective common sense.

      Some years later (and independently) Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel engaged themselves in a whole lot of political/ economic theorising and produced (a still developing) vision of a radical, workable alternative to our current socio-economic systems. They labelled their proposition parecon (participatory economics) that has since informed and inspired the operational framework of a number of small initiatives.(You’ll have seen reference to their work occasionally on ‘the standard’ in my comments.)

      But what drew me to their extensively thought through vision and its applicability in the real world, was that it resonated completely with the system set up by the ex-pupils of Summerhill in the early ’70’s. I lived in that environment in the late 80’s. And like I say, there was no political agenda driving it. It was percieved common sense.

      Which is a long round-a-bout way of me saying that the educational environment is crucial if we, in general, are to have any chance of formulating and applying strategies to avoid, what anyone with their eyes open perceives, as a fairly imminent set of catastrophies stemming from our time worn (personal and collective) habits and activities.

      • just saying 4.2.1

        I was fascinated and inspired by Summerhill when I was younger.
        In the last couple of years I watched a doco on it and I was appalled. It seemed to have replaced overt authority in the teachers and other staff with a kind of unhealthy manipulation. Bullying was rife, and leaving the situation up to the kids to deal with seemed to have resulted in a kind of ‘managed’ lord of the flies environment. Maybe not that much worse than other schools, but I was disappointed. It wasn’t a remotely sensationalist doco and there were long interviews with staff and kids.

      • Puddleglum 4.2.2

        Thanks Bill for a thoughtful response.

        I suppose I’m more of an old-fashioned structuralist and tend to think that, while individuals and small groups of individuals can change their own lives to some degree and, perhaps, even change ‘the system’ the latter only ever happens when ‘the system’ has started to change for reasons that have nothing to do with the desires, aspirations, hopes, etc. of individuals (or small groups of individuals). Part of the change in a system is, of course, changes in people’s ideas, attitudes, etc. but, once again, I see them as following (perhaps ‘fast following’) rather than leading the change.

        My analysis of why ‘alternative’ approaches so often fail is the evolutionary point I made above. All sorts of variations can be generated but they only become successful once conditions have changed. You see, I don’t think these approaches fail through a ‘lack of imagination’ or ‘milling around’ with no idea how to implement something different (because of individuals being conditioned). I’m always surprised, actually, at how quickly people will adapt to a new ‘reality on the ground’.

        I think the reason for these failures is probably a combination of the fact that no idea – or even small scale experiment – can anticipate the difficulty of establishing itself more extensively to a viable level in hostile conditions, and that prevailing conditions also structure the ideas that are opposed to the effects of those very conditions.

        Yes, we need individuals who think differently, propose alternatives and even push ahead with attempts to enact them. My point is just that those attempts, that different thinking, etc. won’t end up changing anything until the conditions are right.

        I’m no incremental liberal reformer. Transformations/revolutions are what change the conditions in which we live.  It’s just that they don’t happen through acts of will (alone). If that was the case, the world would be a very different place from the one we have. Even ‘Rogernomics’ was not just the result of individual efforts/ideas.

        Having said all of that, I think the more that these ideas are disseminated the better prepared we will be for transformation. 🙂

        BTW, I’m very familiar with parecon (I’ve been a Znet sustainer for some years now so am kept well informed.) 

  5. Ed Aotearoa 5

    Bill – I’ve watched this video a number of times already. the NZ is system is not busted, its widely recognised internationally as highly successful. what’s your agenda?

    • Craig Glen Eden 5.1

      Bill has no idea what is going on in NZ schools our educators are leading the way have done for many years now. What goes on in our little factories is as akin to Ken Robinsons approach.
      Most private High Schools run with an out dated systems like Cambridge the parents pay good money for a shit education of their children but think because of all the mercedes at the front gate the education must be good

      National are full of this type of educated person and thats why they have no solutions to todays issues.
      They think they are smart they think they know best and when given the opportunity look for ways to take control ( current Party central situation).

      Thank goodness Labour are doing away with National Standards we might stand a chance of developing a Nation full of creative people who can meet the challenges of the future.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        Bill has no idea what is going on in NZ schools our educators are leading the way have done for many years now

        Yeah, okay. Maybe. But leading the way to where?

      • jem 5.1.2

        “Most private High Schools run with an out dated systems like Cambridge the parents pay good money for a shit education of their children”

        Are you for real?
        It is a fact, look up the stats, that Cambridge curriculum schools account for the top end of student performance in this country… because the system encourages high standards. Unlike NCEA, which promotes mediocrity.

        • Craig Glen Eden 5.1.2.1

          No Jem infact Cambridge is a very old tired form of Education please have a look at the video above and get educated about education.

          Cambridge does not require higher standards, its teaching to tests sadly, monkey learn monkey do. NCEA requires the student to work hard for the whole year to achieve excellence and this is why Schools like Auckland Grammar want to use it because their lazy boys can do better with less effort.

          If you actually spend sometime you will see that the old way is not the best way. Would you buy a car brand new of the lot that had 1970s technology? Not if you were sane but thats what people do with their child’s education.

          “Are you for real?
          It is a fact, look up the stats, that Cambridge curriculum schools account for the top end of student performance in this country”

          And yes I am for real, do want to quote your source for “its a fact”?

        • Ari 5.1.2.2

          High standards are fine, but it’s a lot more important how you implement those standards, and whether you use them to engage kids, or try to “standardise” the kids with them.

      • In Vino Veritas 5.1.3

        Leading the way? As opposed to what Craig Glen Eden? Leading the way in mediocrity? Fantastic.
        Since the 1960’s there hasn’t been a paricularly successful strategy put in place. And not all the strategies that were put in place, were driven from government level. Educationalist in NZ had their fingers up to their armpits in it and havent got it right.

        And on old systems, even if they were all bad, at least they produced kids who could read, write and count to an acceptable level. The failure of today’s schools to emulate this is the reason the National Standards (rightly or wrongly) have been introduced.

        I think you’ll find that a lot of principals and teachers are running scared because they might just be held accountable for non-performance.

    • Bill 5.2

      NZs education system is in essence the same as every other educational system across the ‘western world’.

      It’s predicated on producing contributors to our current socio-economic models. Its needs are very narrow. Human talents or abilities that don’t conform to its needs are discounted or stymied….the conditioning effect of education. (“Yes, yes. You’re very good at that but you need this if you expect to get ahead in life. So put that aside for now and focus over here.”) Then, 20 or 30 years later…and we’ve all heard this…people reflect on abilities or talents that were never developed because they weren’t considered practical.

      Meanwhile, our econmic system is consigning more and more people to the scrap heap (regardless) before they even begin. Witness the increasing levels of relative poverty in our society; the growing instances of people with no prospects; the increasing incidence of suicide in the younger age brackets (under 30s); self medication, ie chronic drug use; the growing awareness that to tread water in relation to your parents’ position in society is basically success these days; the growing awareness that your kids will be lucky to achieve likewise, etc

      Oh. And did I forget to mention that the particular socio-economic set-up we have is destroying the natural conditions we need for survival? Why ,oh why, oh why would we want our kids to slot seamlessly into that socio-economic framework and be successful by its definition of success…engaging in and encouraging all the necessary activities that entails…when that means destroying our collective future?

  6. Ed Aotearoa 6

    Thanks Bill – really interesting 🙂

  7. Jum 7

    National and Act are morphing into Animal Farm.

    What happened to individual responsibility?

    What happened to parents fronting up to their school’s open nights or arranging an appointment with the teacher and asking about their child’s progress?

    Are those parents who want national standards and corporate mind control over their children too lazy to do the asking?

    national standards is mind control of our young.

    • jem 7.1

      I think you miss the point.
      There are still Parents Evening… But you are relying on the teacher infront of you to tell you the truth.

      Without National Standards you don’t know how the Teacher & Schools performance stacks up against the rest of the country, and as a Parent that is important to me..as it should be to all good parents.

      • mickysavage 7.1.1

        jem
         
        Do you have evidence that most teachers are pathological liars and tell you falsehoods about your children?
         
        And does two pretty looking graphs really tell you all that you want to know about your kids’ education?

      • Ben Clark 7.1.2

        With National Standards you don’t know how Teacher or School or your kids performance stacks up against the rest of the country. They’re assessed at each school, by different people, who will inevitably give different results.

        And I’d much rather the money was spent on raising my child’s achievement than on measuring it.

        National Standards will encourage teaching to the test, so that the teacher & school can look good. It will kill the innovation and creativity the NZ system is famous for and why it’s one of the best in the world. Why copy the US/UK/Australia/Norway when their system is failing? If you want to copy anyone, copy Finland as one of the few better than ours.

        But Labour will allow those few schools with Boards who want National Standards to keep them.

        Have a good look at our policy.

      • Jum 7.1.3

        Jem.

        You can tell by the levels system for schools how advanced your child is. You ask the teacher for his or her advice on that level. If it is below you ask why. You continue to ask why.

        Whenever I attended school evenings the hall was always more seats unfilled than those filled.

        Parents can’t tell from a national standards board, which incidentally takes away yet more teacher time that should be spent on their children, whether their child is actually improving. It doesn’t tell you that. The child may have worked hard, improved in 6 months and still not show that on the national standards board.

        Every teacher knows the ‘five’ kids failing in their classroom. Throw the national standards money at them not at some bureaucracy that National and Act are so dismissive of normally. The weekly one hour session for twenty weeks idea was not good either. These children can be caught early on simply by checking the class and school levels, the Principal then seeking financial support from government to help those ‘five’ children. For as long as it takes.

        I’ve checked the American feedback from parents taking their children out of schools that have been forcing students into following some sort of rote learning in order to answer government tests; nasty results from an animal farm system.

      • drx 7.1.4

        Jem I think you miss the point.
        who do you think is evaluating your child against the NS?

        You are also assuming that the NS are properly moderated nationally to ensure that Teacher & Schools performance DO stack up against the rest of the country.

      • prism 7.1.5

        @jem – I am sorry to read that you are so fearful and that there is such a lack of trust in your environment. That has led you to question whether your children’s teachers are telling you the truth. A good parent, which you claim to be, should be establishing a friendly relationship with the teachers and in that process you discuss your hopes for your children, and what the child’s aptitudes and strengths are. And what is essential to achieve, and if the child has difficulty with it how you as a parent can help and work in with the teacher. With the teacher, as an equal and a professional at their job, but ensuring that your child is getting taught thoroughly, fairly and positively.

        So called good parents have been shown on USA television spying with cameras on their children, requiring frequent reports etc. I hope that paranoid lack of trust is not arising in NZ.
        There needs to be a balance between trust and monitoring.

  8. prism 8

    Good news Labour says that it will drop National Standards compulsion and use the $36 million funding to help the under-achieving minority. Not such a big task Ann Tolley as most are doing well at present and there is no need to push the table over and scatter all the scrabble pieces.. You have taken on a task that no sensible man in your party would have chosen. Pity that you are determined to prove yourself as a big shot politician by putting up barriers to the real thing and going for the generic imitation.

  9. Ed Aotearoa 9

    Jem – I think you miss the point. National Standards have been forced onto schools in such a way that they don’t accurately reflect student achievement (they don’t align with reliable assessment methods, so teachers are required to make a bit of a guess; they don’t reflect real achievement – they reflect kids being able to jump through certain hoops twice a year (which takes an awful lot of teacher time to get students doing that at the same, in the same way – because it is unnatural, and not how children learn) – and there’s plenty of research to show a very poor alignment between doing well on standardised testing and achievement in later life.)

    You need to remember that letting your child be tested all the time, and taught to narrow standardised measures, in order to assuage parental anxiety will get in the way of your child actually learning (to be a self-managing and self-motivated, resilient learner who challenges themselves – as our wonderful curriculum describes). It’s the great paradox of education – testing doesn’t mean learning – and one that unfortunately certain politicians are exploiting for their own ends

  10. Bill 10

    A bit late (in the next) day to submit this to an essentially ‘dead’ thread. (The ‘churn’ being one of my dissatifactions with ‘the standard’)

    But seeing as how NZ education was initially modelled on Scottish, not English education and Scottish education is being overhauled, I thought this might be of some interest to some here. (Bear in mind that tertiary ed is still free in Scotland when reading)

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/herald-view/care-needed-with-education-reforms-1.1123682

    Okay. Cut and paste because The Herald is a ‘register’ site.

    It’s some of the cautions and qualifiers in the comment piece that caught my eye. Particularily in relation to this thread.

    Education secretary Mike Russell claims his proposed reforms to post-16 education are radical and ambitious.

    It’s a reasonable claim. Although not all of the measures he revealed yesterday were new, we have been given much more detail. There is certainly ambition in the timescale and the impact of the changes suggested could be significant.

    On the surface, it is a learner-friendly plan, with eye-catching guarantees of a place in education or training for every 16-19 year old, and a minimum income for learners of £7000 [ approx $13 500].

    But some of the other suggestions could also have far-reaching consequences.

    After years of encouraging universities to widen access, the Government has now resigned itself to legislating to enable ministers to demand this happens. While individual iniatives have had successes with discrete groups, this agenda is so important that more is demanded.

    Universities will now be required to take into account more than just higher results [traditional exam results leading to uni] in selecting students. They will be expected to make it easier for students with non-traditional qualifications not just to enter university, but to begin in second year in some cases. This offers considerable encouragement to those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Most welcome is the intention to make universities and colleges more transparent and democratically accountable. We know some colleges are badly run, or underperforming and proper scrutiny of how they are managed is overdue. Universities too need to account for their performance, particularly on access.

    However one area of concern is the minister’s intention to deliver a closer match between skills and employer needs, to ensure qualifications are “aligned to Scotland’s economic needs”. There is even a suggestion that employers may be asked to help design new qualifications.

    Employers are not a homogenous group, and it’s a mistake to imagine their priorities are necessarily identical with the country’s. In the context of a society and workplaces which are changing rapidly, there is no reason to believe they know better than anyone else what our educational needs are.

    The delivery of the skills needed to drive Scotland’s economy forward is important. But learning at all levels has always been about more than just employment.

    The most dramatic impact in the college sector could come from Mr Russell’s plans to legislate so the Government can demand that colleges merge where there is overprovision. Colleges will have to comply.

    This is part of a significant rationalisation which will see college provision taking place on a much more recognisably regional basis.

    Here again the timescale is tight, with the Scottish Funding Council required to move to a regional funding model by 2012-13.

    In principal, a rationalisation is sensible, but whether in business or public services there remain significant doubts about whether mergers will always deliver savings or better services.

    While we may not need as many individual institutions as we have, any reduction will have to be managed carefully.

    If there are to be in future fewer colleges, but with the same number of students, then it will be important to focus on how quality can be maintained, especially against the background of what is likely to be a tough financial settlement. These proposals are certainly challenging. It remains to be seen whether they are as visionary as Mr Russell claims.

    • lprent 10.1

      The churn is always a bit of an issue. I was just looking at yesterday’s figures and seeing that there were almost 1300 posts accessed. Maybe time to drop the one month comment restriction. It was only stuck in to reduce the hassle with trolls and bots.

      • Bill 10.1.1

        Is there no easy way to sub-divide the site into main sections? (Even just in terms of archive?) In some way that ‘throw away posts’ (eg caption contests) are displayed separate from what might be considered ‘short, med and long shelf life’ posts (all separate) , as well as those posts that might be seen as being of permanent relevence (eg posts on climate)?

        It’s a real disincentive to put work into more substantial posts if they drop out of view after a day, know what I mean?

        Maybe it’s possible for a ‘tab’ or some such to be introduced that would allow posters to assign their post to the relevant category?

        Dead easy to throw these ideas around when you have absolutely no technical knowledge, innit?

        edit. Bollox! I really should explore the buttons on sites a bit more…

  11. jem 11

    As quoted by a commenter elsewhere this morning…

    “Mallard’s big attack has been on moderation. How do you know that school A is judging a child against say the Year 1 Nat Std in the same way as school B is judging a child against the Year 1 Nat Std.

    If you accept that is a valid criticism (and Moroney has continued to run it) then Labour does nothing about it.

    Labour has said they will “Determine the New Zealand Curriculum level a child is achieving.” But how do they know that two schools will make the same call without moderation. You’ll have to train and trust teachers – as National has suggested we do.”

    “Labour’s policy appears to be keep National Standards, but rename them and don’t give the Government the data.”

    So how exactly is Labours policy better ??

  12. Ed Aotearoa 12

    Jem – education really is quite complicated, which is why corporate education reformers can get away with so much – because people don’t understand the complexities, but basically Labour’s policy is much better than National’s because theirs allows teachers to use norm-referenced and moderated assessment tools. Most primary teachers already use these in classes – but National Standards doesn’t align with them. Min of Ed expects to get them all to be aligning with Nat Stds sometime in the next couple of years (it’s a huge job – something like setting NCEA for the 8 years of primary school).
    Labour’s policy sees moderated assessment tools aligning with curriculum levels, which are fairly broad – and which is what you want in primary school because children develop at very different rates in early and primary years – you don’t actually want them all learning at the same rate, the same things, to be checked off a spreadsheet twice a year – nothing could be designed better to put children off learning. Good education is about children being motivated to learn at their own pace (self-directed, self-managing, lifelong learners). Of course they need good literacy and numeracy, but that’s simply not an issue for 90% of NZ children.
    Teachers already know who the children are who are falling behind – age 6 net data is all there – plus as one told me “you can tell in the first week whether or not a child is going to be ok”. The problem is that teachers can’t get enough extra help for those children who are falling behind (and they’re poor – not enough regular food, don’t go to the dr, move schools 4x a year) as there aren’t enough resources -which could have something to do with National spending education funding this way – $500m on new school property (mostly through private contractors), $60m on Nat Stds, $50m to private schools ….

  13. Ed Aotearoa 13

    Jem – it’s pretty frustrating for people working in education to read this kind of stuff – many many NZ primary schools already run classes with combined years in them – 2 years in one class in which children are grouped for different subjects (maths, reading, etc) according to their ability (according to moderated, norm-referenced assessment measures). My son is in his 4th such class (ie he’s had 7 years at primary, all of them in joint classes.) When do you guys work out that the NZ system is already one of the best in the world (we 1st-5th in the world, on a number of different measures) – and a load of well-intentioned knee-jerk changes imposed by amateurs ain’t going to improve that … not that it shouldn’t be in a pattern of continuous improvement; just that current reforms are a step back to the 19th century – but most educators are working damn hard to maintain a very good system, despite the reforms

  14. Ed Aotearoa 14

    IN VINO VERITAS – listen up – this is not the site to be repeating National Party propaganda. NZ’s education system ranks 4th in the world (OECD PISA ratings) – people come from all around the world to see how we do it. We are invited to attend conferences all around the world to tell other countries how to do it.
    The students who fail to do well in this system are (a) well known already to teachers, and (b) poor – sick, irregularly fed, with undiagnosed learning difficulties, and transient (we have v high child transience rates because of unaffordable housing, unemployed parents)
    Take your tired old corporate clap trap and go preach over at Kiwiblog – they’re certainly not open to the facts, so they’ll love you

    • In Vino Veritas 14.1

      My bad Ed. This is a site for left wing propaganda with no dissenting views, sort of Stalinist if you had your way.

      I would point out that a good deal is spent sending people overseas to see how THEY do it as well, so it cuts both ways Ed.

      Standards are just that, a standard. Achievin a standard is not going to prevent you from using the education system already in place. Measuring whether students can read, write and count, and comparing against other students of a similar age is surely nothing to get frightened about Ed? Or are you concerned you’ll be found to be a dud teacher since it might just happen, that each time you take a year, that year fails to achieve, but does so the following year and did so the preceding year? At the my school (I’m on the BOT), we have several special needs kids with whom our teachers do their absolute best, however, they are never going to make standard. That’s life. There are always excuses to be made Ed. And you are full of them. Oh, theyre transient, oh, they arent fed enough, housing is unaffordable (bollocks), parents are unemployed (for how long? all their school life? if so, only because they want to be). Just teach Ed. Get on with it. Stop whining.

      And 4th. 4th is good for people like you Ed. 4th is dumbing down. 4th is 4th loser.
      Try winning. Or try another job.

      [lprent: …site for left wing propaganda with no dissenting views…

      Obviously not. I can see pages of your comments without only one behavioral correction by the mods..

      If you want to be a stupid fuckwit and to attract my attention by crapping on your hosts with allegations that are patently untrue, then I really can’t see any reason that the operators of the site should have to read it. We spend a lot of effort making this an area that people can argue and we tolerate massive amounts of dissension amongst the commentators. What we are intolerant about is moronic wankers like yourself denigrating our work.

      Read the bloody policy and learn to respect our efforts. If you don’t then there is a rapid escalation to not being able to comment here.

      Banned for two weeks as an educational experience. ]

  15. Ianupnorth 15

    I wonder if they will be back; anyway, back to National Standards. Cracking srticle http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10756735

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