Far be it from me to mutilate a quote from 90s rugby icon Sean Fitzpatrick, but this is definitely a government of two halves.
On the one hand we have the current driver: national standards narrowing the focus of the curriculum to the “core” literacies of reading, writing and maths (some of us naughty teachers are delivering programmes that may possibly fall outside these “core” subjects. Please don’t tell on me).
The idea of national standards and other policies that focus on testing and measurement hark back to “the good olde days” of education when children were seen and not heard and spelling, the times-tables and recitation of the kings and queens of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was considered the key to a fantastic education.
National standards require measurement. Measurement is impossible or near impossible with those subjective facets of modern education such as values and key competencies. How do you measure participation? Oh.. no that’s not important. We’ll measure your basic facts knowledge instead. Much more easier.
Let us leave ye olde dayes of edukashun aside for the moment.
What I actually want to talk about today is something I think this government is doing in education which I believe is quite visionary. As the sudden gasps of regular readers are released through slightly pursed lips delivering an unexpected whistle, I will explain.
Our school is in the process of getting moved across to the Network for Learning managed network that will give our school ultrafast fibre broadband and eventually access to Pond – dubbed a “learning portal” by N4L.
I’ll let you explore what Pond will offer by viewing the videos at your leisure by following the above link. In short it will allow teachers and students to aggregate and share content – similar to a social network on educational steroids. I am trying to type this without sounding like I’m a salesman, but it’s because I’m really excited.
Anybody who knows this blog well knows how destructive I believe the current government is to New Zealand – not just their education policies, but all their policies. Their vision only suits a certain way of looking at the world that revolves around money. Nothing is valuable unless it can be bought or sold (Cabinet Club anyone?).
Creating a nationwide managed fibre network involving every single school is a pretty crazy policy (crazy good, not crazy ACT flat-tax three strikes and you’re out bad). Sharing and collaboration between students and teachers across New Zealand will be clean and fast and regular because of this. This won’t be the kind of top-down “collaboration” the backward neoliberal part of this government want us to have with their change principals and expert teachers.
We are only in right at the beginning of this, but I am feeling very positive. I am excited about where this is heading and I haven’t said that about this government. Ever.
It will be even better if the government changes in September and we get people in there who actually think the same way we do.