By Bruce Hammonds
Over the weekend thousands of teachers throughout New Zealand expressed their anger about their dissatisfaction about government’s plans for education.
Don’t get me wrong I am pleased that teacher have decided that ‘enuf is enuf’. The government spin doctors have done a good job spreading the message that schools are failing with their simplistic ‘one in five failing’ – a claim that happily ignores the demeaning results ofpoverty on a growing percentage of New Zealand families. The government’s claim has created in the public mind an unfounded sense of crisis in education
Teachers, it seems, have woken up to the true agenda of the government which began with the introduction of ‘Tomorrows Schools in 1986.
The agenda is summed up in the acronym GERM (Global Education Reform Movement) – an agenda that will, when in place, will lead to the privatisation of education – the beginnings of which are to be seen in the push for Charter Schools. The corporate thinkers behind the GERM agenda see education as a fertile ground for private enterprise. As part of this agenda we have National Standards which will lead to National Testing and League tables all to allow for school comparison performance pay and parent choice. Choice, it seems, for only for those who can afford it. The trouble is that the standards will have the effect of narrowing the curriculum and eventually teaching to the tests.
Instead of being forced into a defensive mode teachers need to put forward an alternative vision based on an educational, not a political, agenda
An alternativeeducational model should be seen as central to the development of New Zealandas a democratic creative innovative country. If we are ever to be seen as a creative country that keeps and attracts talented individuals then education is the key to achieving such a vision
- New Zealand needsto be seen as a democratic creative innovative country – a country whose survival depend on making use of the skills and ingenuity of all its citizens
- To achieve this education needs to betransformed so as to focus on creating the conditions for all students todiscover and amplify their unique talents – schools based democratic inclusiveness
- Such a vision needs to reframe the current focus on narrow literacy and numeracy so that they are seen as vital foundation skills to ensure all students can ‘seek, use and create their own knowledge’ (New Zealand Curriculum 2007).
- Such a vision requires all schools to change radically and for all citizens to contribute their energy towards achieving in contrast to the divisiveness being created by current educational policies.
Now this would be worth fighting for!