Pity Anne Tolley. She is required to hold two completely contradictory views in her head.
The first is that our education system is terrible, in disarray, in need of reform. In particular our primary school education is so broken that “one in five children” is failing (repeat ad nauseam), and the only solution is to ignore all professional advice and force through untested, probably damaging, national standards, which will magically allow every single child to achieve.
The second, rather more fact based view, is that NZ has an excellent education system, including excellent primary education. It’s the view expressed in, for example, this government website:
New Zealand’s education system is world-class, modern and responsive. It combines proven, traditional principles of education with innovation, creativity and fresh thinking to produce leaders and citizens equipped for the 21st century.
From a child’s first day at school, our government-funded schooling system provides a comprehensive curriculum of academic, sporting and skills-based learning options in a positive environment.
I’ve been wondering if some reporter will ever get around to questioning Tolley on why it is that national standards are needed if our education system is excellent, “world-class, modern and responsive”. And it looks like Michael Dickison at The Herald might have had a go, in the context of this piece on NZ’s high score on some world prosperity index. Here’s Tolley:
Education Minister Anne Tolley said a recognition that New Zealand’s education was the best in the world did not rule out reform. “I’ve always said that New Zealand has an education system to be proud of,” she said.
“[But] up to one in five children are not getting the basic reading, writing and maths skills they need, and we are addressing that with National Standards and raising the bar for all students to ensure their success in the modern world.”
Can you hear the grinding gears of cognitive dissonance?
We have an excellent education system. But one in five children fail so somehow it is also a disaster for which Labour is to blame. (Here’s a hint Anne, one in five children fail in all education systems).
We have an excellent education system. But strangely it also a disaster that must be reformed by forcing an untested and probably unworkable new standards system, against all advice and massive professional resistance, right down the throats of our primary schools.
We have an excellent education system. But Anne Tolley is determined to break it.