Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: From soundbite to policy

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  • Ian MacKay,

    81st column: Your part 2 hits on the learner believing in the need for literacy numeracy.
    More than that though is learning to love reading and enjoying the art of number patterns. (That after all is what maths is:patterns.)
    I know of a Principal who set out to lift the reading age levels in the Infant School. Easy enough. Focus on Word recognition and phonics. Result excellent. Average age lifted by 1.8 in a year which is a big jump for beginners.
    The Principal was horrified however to find that kids had become reluctant to pick up a book let alone read it. The pressure cooking had destryed the potential to love to read. Pace. Pace. Pace.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    The pressure cooking had destryed the potential to love to read. Pace. Pace. Pace.

    Sounds symptomatic of the kind of system that Japan is slowly moving away from, without the saving graces.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5443 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What perplexes me above all is that I’m not really sure what will constitute literacy or numeracy in 50 years time and it may be a risky strategy delivering teaching on the presumption that I do.

    Yeah, but what else can you do? We don't have crystal balls so we teach kids literacy and numeracy because those were useful skills in our day. I'd be surprised if they don't continue to be. The form may change, handwriting may become a much less valuable skill (hopefully), the language will evolve, and there will always be dispute about what kind of maths kids need to know. But it seems likely to me that language and maths (whatever they become) will continue to be crucial skills for success.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    A S

    do you have children in primary level education?

    I am only asking as it seems that you are unaware that children in primary school are already assessed on literacy and numeracy very regularly and that this information is also passed on to their parents/caregivers.

    I think what most people are arguing is that another test will not provide any more information than what we already have. However, it will tie up many resources (time, money, skill) finding out what we already know. These resources could be more effectively used to address the students further development in literacy and numeracy (than what they already receive). Eg - employ more teachers/teacher aides so that struggling students receive more one-on-one tutoring (I am sure that there are also many other strategies).

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    81st Column

    I agree with your comments regarding students expecting to be 'spoon-fed' - it drives me nuts.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • James Green,

    On higher education. It seems that with the shift to a more commercialised environment the emphasis have changed. People pay fees in order to enrol, and they now see it more as a purchase transaction, that they are buying a product, rather than receiving an education. I'm not saying abolishing fees is the answer, but we need to move away from this commodified version of higher education.
    I wonder if in a perverse way, despite not paying at high school, the breaking knowledge into discrete acquirable chunks has also lead to commodification.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 703 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I think what most people are arguing is that another test will not provide any more information than what we already have. However, it will tie up many resources (time, money, skill) finding out what we already know. These resources could be more effectively used to address the students further development in literacy and numeracy

    Nail, meet head.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    @Ben

    You are quite right, there are no crystal balls that allow us to predict what literacy and numeracy will amount to in the future. But my point in an abstract way was to ask, does it make sense to formalise and standardise the concept of literacy and numeracy through early testing in schools. I have this fear that the dynamic relationship between literacy and everyday experience will be lost in excessive formalism. At 8years old it is easy to say write this way, at 18 kids already use language in a different way as a consequence of mobile communication. Punishing them for not using old fashioned language runs the risk of them rejecting it altogether. As a result they may lose access to a wealth of useful knowledge. I already have this problem in that I struggle to encourage students to read academic books let alone research papers. The killer line last year was “I don’t do books bro”. Capability to literacy allows for motivation and flexibility in this regard straight teach to the test doesn’t.

    As for commodification, commercialisation and spoon feeding, the biggest challenge is not to blame the students, but in some way to encourage them to take a little responsibility for their own learning. Somehow this hasn’t quite emerged as intended from NCEA.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    I wonder if in a perverse way, despite not paying at high school, the breaking knowledge into discrete acquirable chunks has also lead to commodification.

    Interesting point.
    Many students now do not aim to pass "English' or 'History' (for example) they look at each AS, weigh up how many credits they need in literacy or numeracy,the number of credits they need to pass the Level and then decide if they are going to attempt the standard based on this.
    What is the point of working your butt off if you have already enough literacy credits and you are earning heaps of credits towards your level certificate by doing 30+ US in Info Management?
    (Note - this does not apply to all students but it does to an alarming amount and growing number of students).

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    yes - student directed learning is much easier to set(for the teacher) in junior classes than NCEA level classes.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Max:

    I am only asking as it seems that you are unaware that children in primary school are already assessed on literacy and numeracy very regularly and that this information is also passed on to their parents/caregivers.

    I think what most people are arguing is that another test will not provide any more information than what we already have. However, it will tie up many resources (time, money, skill) finding out what we already know.

    So what is to stop the information currently collected from being used at a national level to inform better provision of assistance to kids who need it?

    If it is a nationally consistent tool what is the problem with the proposed change? If it isn't a consistently used tool, wouldn't it be useful to ensure the Ministry of Ed can get the info needed to sort its priorities out and ensure they have their resources pointing in the right direction early on? Wouldn't that also provide a useful tool for schools to extract the needed resources from the Ministry?

    Also, who says there has to be additional testing that takes up resources? If the existing mechanisms are suitably robust they can surely be used/tweaked, or if needed, replaced to achieve both the current and new purposes? There will be no duplication or waste of resources, so where is the problem? Is it simply an issue of who is proposing the change?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    "So what is to stop the information currently collected from being used at a national level to inform better provision of assistance to kids who need it? "

    nothing... except the provision of resources required (time, money and skills). Which was part of my point.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Max Call,

    "Wouldn't that also provide a useful tool for schools to extract the needed resources from the Ministry?"

    schools do 'extract the needed resources' already - the main limit is size of resource pool.

    Fruit Bowl of New Zealand… • Since Jun 2007 • 153 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    The sad thing about testing is in the way that it teaches the kids to measure their success against the test, as Max was saying. It becomes the reason for being there. Sad.
    I came a cross a lecturer in Massey who said ignore the idea of testing, though he had to put a result in for admin purposes. He then spent his energies in developing the student question setting, research skills, cross-student sharing of content achieved, and thus each learned to assess greater or lesser quality. Freed from accenting assessment, the students became totally involved and continued long after the paper was "finished." His name was John Kirkland

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    AS: You have quoted before, there are the 20% who are under-achieving. (The other 80% are among the best in the world.) How do we know that? Because of a whole range of testing being done now. We already know who and where! Every year each school tells the the Ministry the number of children below at and above average.
    What is missing is the money to pay for people and resources to fix it. Please don't let them waste precious resources on more testing.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Madeleine,

    "Watch out parents of kids with autism - they will be open to prosecution if their kids can't cope with all the stress of school and refuse to go."

    This one bothered me too, I have a child with Aspergers syndrome and it is often necessary to pull him from school for reasons like the above, to homeschool him for a week or few days and then get him back in.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2008 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Further to the ETS, judging by question time it appears they're not putting on hold or suspending anything.

    Forestry continues as expected and everything else is supposed to be ready for Jan 2010.

    Though if it was me, I'd be leery of those forest credits.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    Judging by Question Time, I would expect the Prime Minister to hold a firm opinion about climate change, until the weather changes.

    But well done to Jeanette Fitzsimons for flushing him out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1332 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Though if it was me, I'd be leery of those forest credits.

    I don't think they'd be that stupid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Bennett Row,

    Since Mar 2008 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Bennet: Thanks, but scary stuff ! I wonder if Tolley is related to Duncan, Probably Blood Sister, or bloody sister?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    I don't think they'd be that stupid.

    Did you just say you don't think politicians would be that stupid???

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB,

    Just in case this government thinks it is setting some kind of record in passing bills it should be noted that the Indian government recently (23rd Dec 2008) was credited with passing 8 bills in 17 minutes, even whilst, "some Congress MPs were seen hurling their underwear at the BJP MPs while ululating furiously".. Well, actually, the reporter was moved to add that to the report given what else was going in the house at the time.

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Xena for PM! :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 645 posts Report Reply

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