Hekia Parata shared this meme on her Facebook page today, and good on her. As all good Kiwis know, we must never miss a chance to link something – anything – to the All Blacks.
However, the analogy is entirely faulty.
Does she propose we take just the top, say 15, students in the country and throw all we have at them. Fund them the most, give them the very best equipment, best medical care, best physiotherapists, best food, best buildings and sports fields, best transport, and all the positive support a country can muster?
But what about the other students? No, that can’t be what she meant.
Perhaps she meant the teachers are the All Blacks?
That might work, because we do and always have used data to inform us in our classrooms and schools, and we do try to improve and have fun. Excellent, that must be it.
Oh, wait… I presume The All Blacks don’t have to run their planned moves by the Minister, though? Or send their data in a couple of times a year for some civil servants to check over? Or get sudden edicts from the Ministry or Minister saying how they should play from now on. Hmmm… so the analogy falls apart again.
Of course it falls apart no matter which way you look at it, because it’s just a soundbite and means nothing.
Teachers are not the All Blacks. Nor are we the All Black captain.
We coach the ones who play well, the ones who don’t,
the ones with boots, the ones without,
the ones who would rather have a punch up than play to the rules,
the ones who want to play but are too shy or unsure,
the ones who think they are Richie McCaw when in fact they are more Ritchie Valens,
the ones who try so hard but never quite get to the top team,
the ones who blow your mind by making great leaps forward,
the hungry ones who can’t focus,
the depressed ones whose minds are somewhere else,
the ones going home to a warm dry house and the ones going home to mould,
the ones who can’t see the ball,
the ones who run the wrong way,
the ones who’d rather draw the ball or redesign it,
the ones who want to be an All Black
and the ones who don’t –
the ones who can be an All Black
and the ones who can’t.
What we are is the coach of all the teams – ALL of them – and we can’t and shouldn’t pick our players. We should teach the team we get.
So, if being an All Black teacher means picking only the very best, I’d rather be a little league coach any day.
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
Thanks to Marcus for giving me permission to share this cartoon. I think it says it all about the current system …
teaching cartoons can be bought right here.
Feel free to right click, copy and share these memes as far and wide as you wish.
So, two things come to mind when I see this pic:
1. Be careful what you say in public as hypocrisy is not a good look.
2. Paula’s right – don’t vote for f*@# wits.
If anyone can shed further light on this letter, which is apparently to Vic Uni’s student mag, do let me know!
UPDATE: And eagle eyes reader spotted this rather excellent article: http://thestandard.org.nz/key-not-sure-which-bennett-he-appointed/
“Testing can be fabulous. We can learn a lot about where our students are from tests, and we analyse the results alongside all that we know of the student to plan where the student needs to go next. National Standards, however, are not so hot. Don’t confuse the two.”
Further articles on National Standards: https://saveourschoolsnz.wordpress.com/national-standards/
The effect of rising neoliberalism and globalisation on education will be discussed at a public lecture at the University of Auckland next week.
Professor Christine Sleeter’s lecture; “Confronting neoliberalism; Classroom practice and social justice teaching,” will show how and why neoliberalism has gained ascendancy, how it is impacting on society and schooling, and what teachers can do to prepare an active citizenry who can advocate for their own rights as a diverse public.
Professor Sleeter, of California State University Monterey Bay, will use examples from the United States to critique briefly the kinds of market-based school reforms neoliberalism supports, and argue how a democratic and socially aware society can counter such changes. Because the market-based and privatised-based reforms have gone global, New Zealand is affected as well.
Professor Sleeter will argue that neoliberalism increasingly drives education reform internationally. While public schools face increasingly constrained funding, especially in the wake of the economic recession, market-based reforms that emphasise competition, standardisation, and accountability have expanded, driven by the corporate sector and private venture philanthropy. Who stands to benefit most from such reforms?
She uses three examples of classroom practice from the US – two illustrating what classroom teachers she has worked with do in their classrooms, and one being of a new curriculum resource in Chicago that directly takes on these issues.
Professor Sleeter is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading scholars of multicultural and anti-racist education.
She is Professor Emerita in the College of Professional Studies at California State University at Monterey Bay and remains actively involved in the ongoing development of teacher education programmes there.
Her speech will be held on Thursday 29 May at 5pm in J1 Lecture Theatre, Epsom Campus, Gate 3, 74 Epsom Ave.
I know as a teacher and as a parent that I like to know where my children are at, and how they are doing. I test my students, I check on my boy – evaluations are an important part of education. But tests and evaluations are not the be all and end all, and they do not tell us everything we need to know about a child. Or a teacher. Or a school. Or an education system (did you hear that PISA? Hekia? Arne Duncan?)
The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) know this. They (we) are fighting GERMified reforms in the USA and beyond that would make a Kiwi’s hair curl (and possibly drop out at the roots). They know that these reforms start small and then snowball until the public education system is munted beyond all belief and the parents, students and teachers are all thinking “How the *hell* did it get to this?!”
One minute your education system is working. Next a politician cries wolf with some scare story, and suddenly it’s all about test scores…
…and unreliable test scores, at that…
The pass levels are set by politicians, not by anyone with any background in education, with the scores moved up and down so that they fit whatever new policy the politicians want to bring in. (Oh look, the scores are too low, we need to have performance pay for teachers… Oh look, the scores are too high, that means the tests are too easy and we need to pay a multinational to make new tests… Oh look the scores are too low, we need to privatise schools… and on it goes…)
And what happens in the middle of all this political and money-making madness, is that the greater goals of education are forgotten.
Everyone’s stressed. Teachers are scared of losing their jobs. Students are scared of failing tests. Parents are worried their schools are being closed, their kids are not getting the education they would want. So much fear and anger.
This is not the education system any teacher or parent wants for their students.
It suits only the politicians and the money-makers.
BATs has a campaign to identify and share the special things that teachers and schools communities do for their students but which cannot be evaluated. The things that cannot be tested, that are overlooked by the reformers. All teachers have these stories, and they need to be shared and celebrated as they are an integral part of what learning and teaching is all about – community, caring, support, bravery, trying again, mentoring, loving.
Below are some #EvaluateThat stories from BATs.
I’d love to hear your stories so we can make some New Zealand-based memes to add to the #EvaluateThat campaign. Add your stories below or email me at email@example.com and I will meme them for sharing.
So go on, Hekia, John, Banksy, and friends, #EvaluateThat.
Remember, teachers, parents, students – I’d love to hear your stories so we can add some Kiwi brilliance to #EvaluateThat – just add your stories in the comments section, below, or on the SOSNZ Facebook page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will meme them for sharing.
Kia kaha pouako
Sometimes the only thing that covers it is a meme:
For more from Kelvin, see his blog here.
Beware the global education reform movement (GERM)