I received this post on the SOSNZ Facebook page, and thought I would share it here and canvas well-thought-out responses.
“I’ve had a really good look at this page having been alerted to it by a good friend who I believe does an amazing job of supporting the education of our kids. And I know that we might sit on opposing sides to what I’m about to write and I accept that, and I’d also like to establish at the start that I hold no political office or affiliations. I’m simply a parent, with two kids who have been through high school (one still there – and at one of the best ranked public schools in the country). I’ve had experiences with great private school, and both good and bad public schools, so I write this from that perspective.
I wonder if this site is mostly politically driven and there seems to be an awful lot of National Party bashing – and re the whole focus of “Saving our NZ Schools” that seems to be lost in the fray of ‘Let’s Bash Paula/Anne/John…” etc.
What needs to be remembered here is that we are now living in the 21st century, and our schools are still based on the 19th century agrarian system which does not work any more. It’s great to have our kids taught to read and write etc, I’m not criticizing the basic principles of education here – but thousands of our kids are leaving school and university trained for jobs that no longer exist, or will not exist in their work-life times. Our education system was created by academic people who have preserved the academic levels and focused on bringing new professors through the system. They are the ones who are deemed to have succeeded – not those of us who may have fallen out of school and succeeded in our careers (at very high levels in many cases) despite or at times because of our ‘lack of higher education’.
So isn’t it about time that the teachers/professors/administrators of the teaching industry all stopped and stepped back to ask the question, how can we SUPPORT a quality change in this process of finding the best leaders, thinkers and tinkers who will help this world move successfully into the 22nd century? Some of our industries are embedded with people who are doing exactly that – I am personally working with an accountant right now who believes his industry needs a total shake up and makes a lot of sense about it when he talks about how to do so – I know bankers, trainers, engineers and other professionals are thinking the same way. A revolution is finally ‘starting’ to take place in terms of how we view what we learn vs what we can apply in the workforce.
I’ve been seeking ways for one of my sons (aged 14) to maximise his school years and have finally found a better school opportunity for him in Australia, so we are moving there for him to take up that opportunity in a few months. This raised the question for me – why do I have to leave NZ to get him the HIGH SCHOOL education he needs to become a leader and future thinker of tomorrow – despite him being in a ‘great school’ here. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have reached the same conclusion and are homeschooling their children.
So back to the main point – Our school system really does need a major overhaul, but will not achieve anything if continually held back by politically correct stalwarts of the system who fear change at any level. And the Media who play the role of provocateur will continue to find the seeds of sensationalism and thwart the process too. While the media maintain this divide and conquer mentality, nothing constructive actually gets done!
It’s time for this to stop.
I’m willing to bet this post is removed, because I am sure it will upset a few people in this group, and if it’s not, then I applaud you for allowing my free speech on this matter. I’m willing to take the flak that may follow, but surely some common sense must start to prevail Kiwis. Let’s start with that shall we? “
My response was this:
“Thanks, I really appreciate the time and thought you’ve put into this. I’ll try respond as best I can given the 3 year old gnashing at my heals, but may need to reply more thoroughly later this evening.
My agenda is not politically driven – as I said this morning in a post, there have been ethical and good National governments. I just really don’t think this one fits that mould at all, and the behaviour of late is very shocking. I would be appalled no matter what party it was.
I agree with you entirely that changes are need to the education system, but what really horrifies me as a teacher and a parent is that many changes are shoved through with what seems to be little thought or evidence supporting them, and seem to be more about a political agenda than about genuine improvements. The class size debacle, the dropping of so many technology teachers, data releases – they all appear to have been done in a hurry without proper thought and with very poor results. It’s irrelevant which party acts in such a way, what matters is that concerned people challenge such shoddy policy making.
You also should question the limitation put on teachers by the system the way it is – there is much that could be done to free up their minds and time so they could innovate more than they can now. It has to make us wonder why only charter schools are given such freedoms…?
I don’t profess to have all the answers, not at all, but what I do have is the will and the drive to make sure people like you are thinking about all of this.
And all views are welcome, as they always should be in any good debate.”
Your thoughts are very welcome.