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Losing confidence in education

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, June 15th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: education, Social issues - Tags: ,

I really like my children’s school – I think they work hard to keep those young minds engaged and bodies active. I know it’s a job that is pretty demanding, and hugely important. So when I hear that three-quarters of teachers are feeling unprepared and rushed as they work to implement National’s new national standards (according to a NZEI survey) I start to feel apprehensive. According to the survey:

94% of principals said they had concerns about National Standards and their implementation and only 10.1% thought National Standards would make a positive difference to student learning. When asked how confident they were that they’d had enough time and professional learning to implement the National Standards policy, only 2.5% said they felt very confident, while 75% said they were not very confident or severely lacking in confidence.

However according to the NZ Herald, Education Minister Anne Tolley said the majority of schools were getting on with implementing the standards in a professional manner. Eight-four per cent of schools had taken part in the first round of national standards workshops and feedback had been positive, she said. But just 18 per cent of survey participants said the development sessions would help to implement the standards.

Plus I’m not sure whether attending is the same as agreeing – indeed attending may have hightened the level of concern! I have to agree with NZEI President Frances Nelson who says
‘It’s not too late to listen to the voice of principals, teachers, schools and parents, and acknowledge that the Standards are flawed and are being rushed”. I’d certainly rather have something slower that actually has the support of the professionals who we enstrust our children to.

37 comments on “Losing confidence in education ”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    As only 1/3rd of principals responded, and generally people only answer opt-in surveys if they have strong opinions, it is reasonable to assume that the remaining 2/3rds aren’t quite as against National standards as the ones who did respond, are.

    I do wonder about this rushing business, though. All it’s doing is creating controversy, for no gain as far as I can tell. It’s almost like they don’t expect to win the next election, so they have to rush to get stuff done. Of course doing a half-assed rushed job does go some way to ensure that they *won’t* win the next election. Slow and steady wins the race?

    • Pete 1.1

      “As only 1/3rd of principals responded, and generally people only answer opt-in surveys if they have strong opinions, it is reasonable to assume that the remaining 2/3rds aren’t quite as against National standards as the ones who did respond, are.”

      Either that or they figure it will get the same level of dismissal any other dissenting comment has got to date – with a healthy dollop of ridicule and arrogance.

    • Bright Red 1.2

      Your’e right that such a survey is going to get more responses from people who feel strongly on the issue.

      Isn’t it telling that near no principals appear to be strongly for National Standards?

  2. ianmac 2

    A teacher friend commented that when planning studies with other teachers, the other teachers had dismissed the new Curriculum in favour of the planning to try and meet the needs of National Standards. One seems to conflict with the other. Pity given that the new Curriculum is the product of years of planning/trialling/consultation.

    It it seems that that awful woman who heads the so-called Trustees Association is talking about better reporting to parents which is a separate ball game. If that was a legitimate concern then there are great ways of informing parents better already. National Standards get in the way!

  3. freedom 3

    When Diane Ravitch admitted her policies had been wrong i sent our Minister of Education a wee note.
    Thought i would share the reply
    ——————————————————
    To the Hon Anne Tolley

    To allow a high functioning productive society to operate succesfully, i can think
    of no area that is more vital than Education. It is a pillar of the society’s belief in
    itself to develop and grow. It is a surveyor’s flag for the pioneers of the future.
    It is the badge of respect we show for those around us.

    By your own admission, it has been reported, much of the structure and intent of your policy initiatives are based on contributions to education policies by Diane Ravitch and her work in the United States over the last decades.

    Perhaps this article will shed some light on issues we are currently attempting to address in New Zealand.
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/thewrongstuff/archive/2010/05/17/diane-ravitch-on-being-wrong.aspx

    I respectfully ask you to reconsider many of the programmes you have been developing.

    sincerely
    ( name withheld for privacy)

    sent to :anne.tolley@national.org.nz
    sent: 19/05/2010
    ———————————————————
    and her PDF response which finally arrived today
    ———————————————————
    transcribed from pdf received
    stamped 14 june 2010

    Dear ( name witheld)

    thankyou for your email of 19 May 2010 about the work of Diane Ravitch and its implications for education policy.

    I agree with you about the importance of education to the future of New Zealand. The Government was elected in 2008 with a strong mandate for change and a commitment to improving educational opportunities for all students.

    The article you referred to describes what Diane Ravitch has discussed in her most recent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I understand Diane Ravitch’s views expressed in the book relate to education policy in the United States including no Child left Behind.

    Education policy in New Zealand, including National Standards, differs significantly from similar policies in England, Australia and the United States. New Zealand National Standards have no national tests associated with them and assessment will remain student-centred and teachers’ professional judgements will be valued.

    There is strong international and national evidence that this appraoch leads to school improvement. If you are interested in further reading, some of this evidence is available at the following website: http://assessment.tki.org.nz/Research

    thankyou for taking the time to write to me with your concerns

    Yours sincerely

    Hon Anne Tolley
    minister of Education

    ————————————————-
    Paragraph 2 is an outright lie but paragraph 4 just begs the question;
    How can a National Standard have no National testing?
    and i still believe National Standards is a huge misnomer
    capcha: exactly

    • ianmac 3.1

      freedom: Great reading. Thanks. I did look at the tki site but could not quite see how that would help align to Nat Stds. The bits that I did see on Maths assessment were dated 2002. Must be some answers hidden in there somewhere.
      As for the Minister’s reply given the resources she has, she still fails to explain the reasoning. The failure rate is about 7% actually but in a year or two when it suits the Minister, she will use revised figures to show an “improvement” from 20% to 7% failure rate.

  4. Irascible 4

    The evidence against National Standards testing continues to build up as the research on the effects of the different forms comes from the independent analysts. Every form of National Standards, even if it is defined in the claytons manner chosen by Tolley, has not delivered any of the promised golden education futures.
    Tolley is caught on the end of the lure NACT used during the election only she’s at the other end of the rod and she’s trying to wriggle off the hook.

  5. Tanya 5

    Tolley is doing a great job. National will dismantle the socialist school state that we currently have, I hope, and replace it with the old teaching methods – they worked. Get rid of valueless ‘values’, because look at the chaotic result. Secular humanism needs to go, what a falsity it is. National Standards, please.

    • Bright Red 5.1

      You’ll have to point out to me where National Standards abolishes secular humanism.

      Must have missed that.

    • ianmac 5.2

      Well Tanya. Would you explain what no one else has managed, just exactly how National Standards will help.
      For example, we already know that my grandson Joel is about 18mths behind average in reading and similar in Maths. The school and parents are dealing with it as best they can.
      Please explain how Nat Test will help Joel.

      • Pascal's bookie 5.2.1

        Please explain how Nat Test will help Joel.

        Because Jesus.

        • Lanthanide 5.2.1.1

          Lol.

          The obvious answer is that National Standards won’t help Joel. They will however help Jimmy, Joel’s friend, because right now no one knows that Jimmy is actually 9 months behind on maths and 6 months ahead on english (he uses his good english skills to fool everyone about his maths).

    • Mac1 5.3

      Tanya, what is a ‘socialist school state’? Very alliterative but what does it mean?

      What ‘valueless values’ are being taught?

      And what were the old teaching methods? The ol’ corporal ‘This will hurt me more than it hurts you, boy” punishment?

      Lots of questions, I know. But that’s how we learn- by asking questions.

  6. Tanya 6

    Mac1, the old teaching standards are when the teachers were in charge, not the children, when children respected adults and when decent teaching methods were used, not the Leftist indoctrines of today, where ‘unsavoury’ parts of history are changed or omitted, and where socialist values are very cunningly taught, where good reading and writing matters not. Anything goes, as long as it ‘hurts nobody’. No, National will not remove secular values, but at least they are aware of some of the in-set rot and communist ideals entrenched in our educational institutions starting at the pre-school stage. But it’s all about degrees, isn’t it?

    [lprent: Good to see that we still have the idiots (like Tanya) amongst us. I thought that the age of the moronic paranoid pontificating pedant was over (at least here). ]

    • ianmac 6.1

      Tanya. You either have no idea what the National Standards program is, or have no idea how it will fit into a school operation.
      I have tried hard to match what you have written with any school I know and I have no idea where a teacher is not in charge…. Oh what the hell. There is nothing there to respond to. I truly wonder if you think that National Standards to you means discipline, or moral teaching or something else. ????
      Tanya: In what way will National Standards help the progress of children in our schools?

      • Lanthanide 6.1.1

        I can only echo ian’s comment.

        Tanya, your reply was just as full of slogans and ‘truisms’ as your original post.

    • NickS 6.2

      The Stupid, It Burns

      Sorry, what exactly is so wrong with secularism and secular humanism? Mainly as they’ve played a significant part in the changes in human rights in the developed world over the last century. Allowing for critical examinations of tradition and religious privilege that have been used to deny others their basic human rights, like children, women* etc, etc.

      But I’m guessing you’re one of those people who think gays are teh evil, evolution is totes wrong (because the bible says so), any changes in education practices due to research are actually a communist plot and perhaps that women shouldn’t own their own uteruses. I could be wrong on all these, but given what you’ve said, I might just be on the money this time.

      *There’s still the wage gap, idiots trying to control uteruses that don’t belong to them and the rape culture to deal with. Somedays I end up thinking the rad.fems have it right given the continuing bullshit.

    • Hanswurst 6.3

      I happen to agree with you that good reading and writing are not brilliantly taught. I can’t, however, agree with your assertion that it is to do with communist ideals (which is about as stupid an argument as you could possibly make, frankly). I think you’ll find that it has more to do with the increasing use of word processors – where correction and reprinting are easy – and the more recent rise of email and text messaging, where there is often no printed copy, and where speed, not style, is important.

      Thus, the teaching methods have increasingly attempted to cater for students who do not aspire to write books or need to produce memoranda that will be read and considered carefully by lots of important people, but who just want to get their basic point across as quickly as possible (and clarify it later if it’s not clear- it’s all just the push of a button).

      I find the resulting style of communication absolutely repugnant, but I can’t deny that it meets the aim of quickly reading a message and replying as fast as possible. That is a (rather oversimplified) functional definition of literacy. It’s also probably a more or less direct result of the pressure to get more done on lower pay in a tighter jobs market – so that’s your correlation with “socialist values” down the toilet.

      • Galeandra 6.3.1

        As an English teacher for nigh on four decades, I’m sorry to disagree but I have to say that your comment is bunkum on a number of counts.
        ” good reading and writing are not brilliantly taught ……Thus, the teaching methods have increasingly attempted to cater for students who do not aspire to write books or need to produce memoranda that will be read and considered carefully by lots of important people, but who just want to get their basic point across as quickly as possible (and clarify it later if it’s not clear- it’s all just the push of a button).”

        • Hanswurst 6.3.1.1

          Okay, enlighten me then. I’m not an expert; I’m just basing that on my own experiences going through different schools/teachers with varying attitudes to the teaching of English, as well as a bit of reading and discussion around how curricula have changed.

          Also, the bit you quoted was probably not so well expressed on my part. I didn’t mean that teachers lowered their standards, I just meant that they had to adapt to deal with students whose requirements and ambitions – especially in written lanugage – were somewhat different.

  7. freedom 7

    i often got kicked out of classes for asking questions, no-one told me back then they only wanted to hear questions they could or were allowed to answer

    • ianmac 7.1

      freedom: I think that the question is the answer. A school that actively encourages kids involved in any study, to ask questions to help set the enquiry, will have children as actively involved learners. As some wise person said, children are not vases waiting to be filled but fires waiting to be lit.

      • freedom 7.1.1

        the comment was meant to slide in under mac 1 but the vagueries of posting kind of killed the small and insignificant joke. oh well. anyway back to the serious side of things.

        Tanya, if you are not taking the piss then i feel truely sorry that you have such a limited exposure to the tremendous kids that go to our schools. Do not confuse the constant war room bleatings of the Education Administration with the actual activity in the trenches. With dwindling and inadequate resources the teachers and communities of our schools battle on and continue to help New Zealand grow and prosper with vibrant intelligent people capable of independant thought.

        ok it got a bit effusive there but jeez louise, our schools are being railroaded into moronic multi-choice box-check education and we get idiots like this who cannot tell the difference between democratic freedom and the corporate fascism of privatisation

        p.s. go the All Whites

  8. National Standards – complete rubbish. Not in Maori Immersion schools and not in private school either – why not? And whilst on Education, how come John Keys son is able to accompany him to the World Cup in term time?

    • ianmac 8.1

      Actually Fabregas4, the fact that private schools are exempt from all forms of accounting such as Nat Stds, given that they have high quality, plenty of money, low class sizes on intake, their achievement may well be a lot lower than they could be. Maybe they could all be A pass students instead of many.
      Yeah. Go the All Whites! Anything is possible if you want it badly enough. 🙂

      • Galeandra 8.1.1

        35Million dollars worth of extras obviates the need for National Standards.
        Captcha excessive- as in your optimism about the All Whites 😉

  9. Tanya 9

    John Key’s son can accompany him to the world cup in term time, because that’s up to JK isn’t it, not our business. I would take mine, if I could, good on the PM! Honestly, you begrudge the PM everything. Go National Standards, and bring the Bible back into schools too, please, and capital punishment (when NZ had this, kids did not attack their teachers with knives – this speaks volumes…!). Blessings all. I await the hate speech…see you at No Minister.

    [lprent: Personally if I see a bible being pushed at a state school around the kids in my family, then I’d help to burn it. The separation between religion and state is an argument that is long over IMHO.

    Religious belief is a personal decision. It is not one that should be done by state indoctrination. If you want your kids to have a religious education – then pay for it yourself. Otherwise do what everyone else does and keep your beliefs inside the family.

    I think that you’re merely trolling because regardless whatever else you say in a comment – you keep pumping this line usually out of any context. I define out-of-discussion-context line pumping like that as being trolling.

    If you do it again largely out of content, then I’ll give you an early dose of purgatory. ]

    • The Voice of Reason 9.1

      Hmmm, Tanya. If we are going to have works of fiction like the bible in schools, can we at least have a bit of balance from atheists, too? Howabout ol’ Bill Lee?

      “Never do business with a religious son-of-a-bitch. His word ain’t worth a shit; not with the Good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

      William S. Burroughs

    • Daveosaurus 9.2

      “and bring the Bible back into schools too, please, and capital punishment”

      How about actually reading the book before trying to impose it on other people?

      I suggest you start with Exodus 20:13.

      • felix 9.2.1

        I don’t think Tanya knows the difference between capital and corporal.

        Or shit and shinola for that matter…

        • Pascal's bookie 9.2.1.1

          I was going to make an obvious joke from the Life of Brian, re ‘Crucifixion ooh you lucky bastard’ etc, and so went to Mr Gazzoogle to get the required quotes.

          On entering…

          ‘Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be spat at in the face’

          …I figured the first few links would get me what I needed, monty python wise, with rule 34 coming in to play fairly soon thereafter.

          Instead, I found what could be Tanya’s source material.

          http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Basics/spit_in_his_face.htm

          Too funny not to share, even if just for the page’s address, which itself seems pretty damn suspect, rule 34 wise.

          It’s been too long since I’ve read this brand of nut, so thanks Tanya.

          • ianmac 9.2.1.1.1

            Thanks Pascal: I somehow went to your link expecting “The Life of Brian”. I chuckled away at the absurdity then being a bit slow, it dawned on me that this was for real. Stunned. Then saddened for many must use that stuff to guide their lives. Its like some of the things believed in the Middle Ages. Poor old Tanya. Its a free world though. Good luck.

    • Fabregas4 9.3

      NO the law in our country says that children under the age of 17 must attend school not go swanning off to the world cup. Unless you are suggesting that the Prime Ministers son is above the law?

  10. ianmac 10

    Tanga: Perhaps as you are a priest, beg forgiveness for your guilty little secrets. But in a secular court you might face reality.

  11. Tanya 11

    Tanga. Nice. Thanks for putting a smile on my face. Trollng – such an ugly word. Boy, how a small mention of the Bible makes some people angry. What about freedom of speech and tolerance? Hmm, not when it comes to Christianity, right? See you later then, have a good one.

    • lprent 11.1

      Don’t be stupid – I said religious.

      There are many people who are religious in both my family and friends. However unlike you, they are not absolute idiots about it. They live their faith rather than going around acting like moronic prats. There are many of this type of religious believer writing here – as is evident from their comments.

      There are also members of my extended family who seem to view religion as some kind of dominance ritual and spend a lot of time talking about faith and religion – but seldom personally practicing it. I call them the bullshit religionists.

      I judge the depth of peoples faith by how they act rather than what they say. You seem to fall into the bullshit category.

    • Mac1 11.2

      Tanya, a little time to get back to continue the discussion, having asked the questions.

      Which I am afraid you haven’t answered.

      1. What in heaven’s name is a socialist school state?
      2. What specific valueless values do you mean? I look for actual words like honour or justice or loving kindness, not that I expect them in your answer.

      You say, “the old teaching standards are when the teachers were in charge, not the children, when children respected adults and when decent teaching methods were used, not the Leftist indoctrines of today, where ñ€˜unsavoury’ parts of history are changed or omitted.”

      At least this is an attempt to answer, but raises other questions. I am a teacher, surprise surprise, and I am in charge- have been for nigh on forty years. No evidence at my school that what you say is true. Children try it on- always have- but teacher is in charge, still- have no fear.

      Most children still respect adults. They challenge, but they learn…. mostly. Those who don’t were probably not respected themselves.

      What were the ‘decent teaching methods’ to which you refer? Chalk and talk, shut up and listen to me, chanting, rote repetition, the strap, the cane, sarcasm, ostracism, the dunce’s hat? We use decent methods still, I believe. Not many from my list, I grant you, not often. I’m interested to know what worked for you.

      And as for the charge that leftists change history. Have you studied history, Tanya? For example, did you ever read of the treatment of Samoans in the early Nineteen Twenties by New Zealand troops. Left out of histories by Leftist school teachers? The horrific stories of the atrocities of colonial troops during the Land Wars? Left out by Leftists? You have to give examples to back up your assertions.

      You talked in your comment of 12.43 of freedom of speech and tolerance.

      Frankly I don’t see much tolerance in your stated views. You have exercised your freedom of speech to enunciate them, and I have read them. Please don’t use the ‘poor me, it’s all hate speech’ defence in anticipation of the quality of your views attacked. They need to be questioned- it’s the other side of the practice of freedom of speech. Finally, challenging your views is actually a respectful act- not hatred, nor intolerance. The hope is that we might learn from each other- a profoundly respectful attitude.

      You practise your freedom of speech- I’ll practice my freedom to make hopefully an informed criticism.

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