Tuesday, 30 December 2014


The Axis of Effective Education

Blame-shifting or responsibility-deflection is endemic in the education sector.  The government education system faces a major problem, however, with its deflection programme.  After all, it has run a state-enforced monopoly for nigh on 150 years. 

For over a century it has promulgated the idea that parents are incompetent as educators of children.  Parents can do significant harm. Parents are not experts (as are we government educators).  Parents have no idea of modern sophisticated  pedagogical theory.  The upshot is that the lackeys inside the government education system believe, and want everyone else to agree, that when it comes to education, parents are not just redundant; they are both irrelevant and dangerous.

Consequently, the government education system is bound to fail systemically--and it is. Bali Hacque--life long practical educationalist--made a startling claim in his recent book.  Startling, because to the modern government educator, it flies in the face of all the propaganda they have been feeding themselves for generations.  Hacque, like many trying to fix the unfixable, searches for "the key", the "one thing" that will make all the difference.  What will make the biggest difference to a child's educational progress?

Books.  (Not ipads, tablets, the net, or other electronic distractions).  And not just books.  Books in homes.
Bali Haque's new book, Changing our Secondary Schools, raises important and timely questions about teaching. His acknowledgement that the single most important contribution to student success is the cultural capital they bring into the classroom is supported by all the international evidence. Strikingly, the single most reliable indicator of future academic success is the number of books you have in your home when you grow up. [NZ Herald]
To the average government educator this simply does not compute.  Homes and parents were supposed to be irrelevant.

We would add one more vital necessary ingredient.  Home life must be structured so that children get a decent night's sleep every night.  They must be abed by a certain time.  The "modern" home consists of children who stay up playing computer games isolated in their own rooms or in other places to all hours of the night.  These days, when teachers inquire, "What time does your child get to bed and go to sleep?" the majority of parents are dumbfounded and confess they do not know.  Similarly, the question, "How many hours sleep does your child get every night?" garners a similar agnostic response.  Teachers complain, legitimately, that pupils are spaced out and tired and listless and inattentive in the classroom.

A good rule of thumb with respect to electronic devices in homes is zero tolerance, apart from one home PC where the children's access and use can be monitored at all times.

One enlightened parent remarked the other day that their children were all sent to bed at a standard time every night.  They could read in bed as long as they liked, but nothing else.  They reported that many were the times when they would tip-toe into the children's rooms an hour or so later to find the light still on and the children fast asleep, with a book lying open either on or beside them. 

Education and schooling will always be sub-standard without a strong working coalition between parents and the teachers of their children.  The axis of educational effectiveness consists of a strong working alliance between parents, teachers, and students.  Enlightened educators (whether parents or successful teachers) work hard at developing and maintaining that axis.  No blame-shifting is tolerated. 

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