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Charter Schools, Effecting Change, Good Teaching, Government Policy, Poverty & Socio-Economic Status and Education, Research on Education, Standardised Tests

NZ Education – A Local Professor’s View

Ivan Snook is a Palmerston North professor who has been in the education sector for more than 50 years has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate from Massey University, and has been working and studying in education since 1961 .

These are excerpts from an interview with him in the Manuwatu Standard, dated 6.6.12

ON BEING A TEACHER NOW

“No, I wouldn’t become a teacher today because I think it’s too demanding and it’s too poorly recognised”

“For a young person, going into teaching now is going into an area where they’re going to be monitored, controlled, looked at, inspected, reviewed, and criticised for things that are beyond their control.They’re criticised because people from lower socio-economic groups are not achieving as well. They don’t fail because of teachers, they fail because of material and other conditions in their background.”

ON GOVERNMENT POLICY AND REFORM

“I do think it’s very interesting that the very same things that were said in 1988 [after the Picot review and education reforms] that the whole revolution was suppose to fix, 24 years later they’re still saying the same things; that schools are not achieving well, there are lots of children not prepared for work, there’s too much illiteracy and there’s about one in five not doing well in school, schools are not well focused, and Maori are still doing very, very badly. So the great revolution that we thought was so awful and they thought was so wonderful has obviously achieved nothing. Now we’ve got to do it again; charter schools, national standards, and increased class sizes.”

ON NATIONAL STANDARDS, CHARTER SCHOOLS AND CLASS SIZES

He says national standards, charter schools, and increased class sizes will not solve the issues. “What we have now [with national standards] is rather vague statements of what schools are supposed to achieve and each school has to implement those as best they can, and what the parent gets from the school in relation to each child is called an overall teacher judgement. A teacher’s judgment varies so much from teacher to teacher, from school to school. Even two teachers in the same school might make different judgments about the same sort of thing, so how can this concept work?”

“There’s no evidence anywhere that increasing class size improves education other than saving money. It isn’t too surprising that if you want to get your child into an independent school she will have, at most, 16 [others] in her class. These parents are spending a lot of money to send their children to these schools to get a better education, where they get that one-on-one time with teachers, whereas the rest of our parents who are sending their children to state schools are now being told it doesn’t matter how many students are in class. I think it does matter.”

THE REAL ANSWERS

“You see that the kids are fed, you see they’ve got good housing, you can’t eliminate it all and you can’t eliminate bad parents, but you can have social policies that enable all kids to have a good home, access to medicines, and access to good food. One way [to do this] is to attack the social problems which underlie the issues and the other is to train teachers better and trust them more.”

————————————————————————————————-

Professor Snook a became a honorary doctor of literature at Massey last month for his service and contribution to education.

Read the full article here:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/features/7051275/Tackling-what-lies-beneath

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