Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: School bully

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to HORansome,

    That makes me sad and angry, Matthew.

    You're a gifted educator and one of only a few people to understand how my younger son learns.

    Fuck.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, it is, as I believe the youth might have once said, a bit "suckful".

    However, there is hope. Whilst there's a temptation to teach to the test at the moment, particularly given National Standards, many teachers are embracing integrated curriculums where you make the English and Math parts of what you teach parts of a larger module. So, for example, you do Social Sciences module on Archaeology and in that you can easily do a bit of math ("If we know that the other artifacts were found 3 metres beneath the surface level and the mound we are excavating is 2 metres high, how deep do we need to dig?"), a bit of English ("So, we have what appears to be a bit newspaper. Can you work out what words are missing along the edge?"), a bit of Science ("So, archaeological sites are often divided into layers…"), some ICT ("Let's make a map of the site using this piece of software!") and so forth.

    There are ways to teach material in a way which will raise standards. What we need to stop doing is teaching children according to a system codified by the Victorians, where the only permitted changes is to do more of the things which didn't really work in the first place. National Standards didn't help. Performance pay won't help. Funding schools and solving social inequalities probably will, but those are long term fixes which don't sell well electorally (it seems; I'd vote for them, meself).

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome,

    For some more words of wisdom about performance-based pay for teachers, my friend wrote this some two years ago.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Thornbury, in reply to HORansome,

    Having been one of those taught under a system "codified by the Victorians", I think you do it a disservice.

    We weren't taught to a test, we had it instilled in us that in order to succeed, you had to do well. In order to do well, you had to learn. In order to learn, you had to study.

    I left school much too early, but the lessons I learned about learning and self-motivation stayed with me.

    I don't have any formal qualification, past school certificate, but never stopped learning, never stopped searching for answers, mostly thanks to a realisation that no-one can learn for you. If you want to know something you have to do the hard yards yourself.

    I look at the propensity for 'teaching to the test' and to me, that is Victorian teaching. Get a list of words, learn them, recite.

    In my experience, too much emphasis these days is on tools and technique, not enough on instilling an understanding of what you need to do to learn.

    We weren't allowed individuality, we didn't have our differences lauded and promoted. No doubt some were left behind by this barbarous practice, but for many it made them - learning how you fit, rather than negotiating how to have things fitted to you.

    And while I'll not be an advocate, the cane never failed to make me focus.

    Brunei • Since Mar 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I can't argue with any of your post, Jolisa, and I'm profoundly glad I don't have any children that have to cope with this, as well as profoundly sorry for those of your that do.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2931 posts Report Reply

  • JonathanM,

    Thanks for this Jolisa. I suspect most here will support your position. I see two problems with performance pay. The first is the obvious one: How do you evaluate performance? It's so highly dependent on the students in any particular class that it would be difficult to objectively assess.

    The second is that if you tie pay to performance then you're specifically introducing a disincentive to any material not on the test. Teachers love to teach material that's really interesting and related to the material assessed, but isn't directly assessed. And students soak it up - often this is where really great examples come from and real learning opportunities exist for the student. However, this material doesn't necessarily benefit the student's immediate grades - it takes time away from material that is directly assessed, meaning the trade-off is heavier under a constant-assessment system.

    In my experience, students are already (under NCEA) looking more and more at what they need to tick the boxes to pass, rather than actively interested in learning. Not all of them, but it seems as if there's an increasing proportion of university students focusing on "what will be in the test, what will be in the final, what do I need to know to pass" rather than "what is important that I should be learning". Maybe it's rose-coloured glasses, but it seems that with the cohorts since NCEA this is increasing?

    This is a tricky nut to crack. I don't think anyone doubts that there's lousy teachers (as you say - there's lousy students as well) but how you fix that is a really hard problem. In my opinion the best thing for a kid is to have a range of teachers - that way, yeah, they may get one that isn't a good fit for them, but they'll have others that are a better fit. This seems to me to be something that our schools already do a pretty good job with.

    Since Jul 2012 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Dianne Khan,

    So very well said, and a sage warning to all Kiwis of any political persuasion that these measures will, if left to continue, lead to the ruination of our school system for decades to come. And those generations of students will be the ones running the country when we are old. We fail them at our peril.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Dianne Khan, in reply to Mike Thornbury,

    With respect, to argue the system as was didn't do you any harm is a non sequitur and doesn't mean that system was the best then or is now for the majority of students.

    The world you were being taught for no longer exists. Mine neither. No-one can get by with one narrow set of skills in the working world any more - it is exceedingly rare for people not to have a number of careers, as jobs are lost and people have to change direction. Basic skills are still drilled - times tables and the like. But they are low level skills, and that method is no good for higher-order skills,

    Students need more than their times tables and The Charge of the Light Brigade under their belts. They need to be able to solve problems, invent, analyse, discuss lucidly, adapt, work in varied situations, and be life-long learners.

    The system as it stands needs to be further improved. But these reforms are not the way. They are there to serve business, not students, and will serve both the students and the country as a whole very poorly if allowed to continue.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2014 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to HORansome,

    For some more words of wisdom about performance-based pay for teachers, my friend wrote this some two years ago.

    in a similar vein this worth reading (not sure who Steve McCabe is, but I don't *think* he's the baby-faced guitar-slinger who fronts the Axmen.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood,

    This is a fantastic piece, Jolisa -- best political analysis that I've read for ages. Brilliant work! Thank you!

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Dianne Khan,

    They need to be able to solve problems, invent, analyse, discuss lucidly, adapt, work in varied situations, and be life-long learners.

    This, so much. My kids don't need to memorise lists of facts: they have Google. They need to learn how to find and evaluate information. They need to learn how to learn, because nobody knows what they're going to need to learn through their adult lives.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Yes, and they need to know how to be good collaborative humans.

    Thanks, Jolisa.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Former school principal, Labour Party minister, educational administrator in the UK and generally wise person Marian Hobbs has a blog on education. Latest on measuring performance.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3213 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to HORansome,

    The ongoing trend of teachers to become a whipping boy has pretty much put me off it as a career change. It's quite astonishing that the opinions of the bulk of the people in a profession would count so little for how their profession is driven by politicians.

    But I'm not sure that it's only politicians who don't get it. A large slice of the general public have strong opinions about how to teach. But they don't have an opinion about how to, say, prescribe medicine, or give legal advice. It's like teaching is not a job in which experience or training count for anything at all. It would seem to these people that the only really important thing is motivation, and of the possible motivations, the only one that matters or works is money.

    Which is interesting since I can't think of a single person out of the dozens of teachers I know who got into it for the money.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Pi Roy,

    At the risk of swimming against the tide here......oh well it's a democracy,our education system is slowly (maybe quite quickly) but surely slipping down the OECD ranks and if you keep doing the same things the same things happen.
    We are losing a whole lot of kids through the cracks ,yes their parents should step up first but that is not and will not happen for many kids today or tommorrow.So for Gods sake what is wrong with trying something new to try to see if there is another way to help these kids.
    It's not as though we are turning every school into a charter school I went to the lowest decile college and have made it out the other side but many of my mates didn't many went to jail or are not here any more.i look at them and ask if it would it have been better under a charter or partnership school program and the answer is maybe but we won't know unless we try something new.It is about time this was about the kids not the teachers or more importantly the union lets see if we can make a difference to some of those kids rather than blocking every bit of change that is introduced.
    No one is setting out to reduce the quality of the system I have faith that everyone is trying to get us to a better place our system is failing some kids lets try something new at least in a limited way.

    Welly • Since Mar 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Mark McGuire, in reply to Danielle,

    Go for it, Danielle: http://www.tombstonebuilder.com/

    Dunedin, New Zealand • Since Dec 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • tim oliver,

    Wait, linking funding to child progress sounds like a great idea - more money for those schools making slower progress, right, because they need the extra resources?

    Right?

    Since May 2011 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Pi Roy,

    for Gods sake what is wrong with trying something new to try to see if there is another way to help these kids.

    There's nothing new about this idea.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Pi Roy,

    We are losing a whole lot of kids through the cracks ,yes their parents should step up first but that is not and will not happen for many kids today or tommorrow.So for Gods sake what is wrong with trying

    Because what Parata suggests and what the government has done not only works against the most vulnerable children, but diminishes a good education system. Because they've consistently bucked the evidence, bullied schools, executed poorly and basically seemed more interested in populism than education.

    In no sense was whisking national standards through -- under urgency! -- almost immediately after the 2008 election a responsible act. These people are vandals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22811 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to BenWilson,

    As one of my teacher teachers told me, teaching is the profession where everyone has an opinion as to how it’s done because everyone has been to school and is thus an expert. Or, at the very least, thinks they are.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 441 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Surprisingly :-) You’ll find little politics on my facebook. Today it changed with this:

    Right you lot. If you want your kids to have a good education in this country and you heard Parata on the radio “mischaracterising” (what a wonderful Newspeak word!!) her quotes about funding schools by “incentivising” from results then you had better read this. Jolisa Gracewood is no mug. Especially read about her kids progress in such schools in America.

    It is about to happen folks. Get off your collective arses and close it off. Now. Write to you MP, the PM, Parata.

    (Finished with link to this post)

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Mark McGuire,

    The governments intention to reduce the size of University councils and to increase the number of ministerial appointees , despite considerable opposition, makes it clear that changes are planned for the university sector, too. Tertiary Education Minister Stephen Joyce’s statement that universities need to “think more strategically and move more quickly on areas like online learning and MOOCs” suggests what might be in store. The question, in New Zealand as in other countries, is whether these changes will serve the public interest or whether they will deliver yet another slice of the public sector to the maw of the market — one student and one institution at a time.

    Dunedin, New Zealand • Since Dec 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Pi Roy, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It's all a matter of perspective mr Brown the system was vandalised before National was in power, look at facts we have being sliding down the rankings for the last twenty years it's just that that the previous government made no difference .
    Clearly our philosophies are different but I suspect we want to see the same result,has it ever occurred to you there is more than one way to get to the same answer .

    Welly • Since Mar 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to HORansome,

    Yes. I had a parent teacher interview last week and inquired about just where this drive to give my 7 year old heaps of homework was coming from. She sighed and said "parents want it". Jesus! He's a kid, let him relax when he gets home. I hate that we now have neurotic arguments about when to do bloody homework, because other parents want it for their kids, to make sure they don't slip behind standards.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Pi Roy,

    But these things have been done before. In America. And they don't work. Isn't that what Jolisa says all through her post?

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

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