Friday, 15 December 2017

More on NZ's Abysmal Government Education System

When There Is No Queen in the Hive Bad Consequences Follow

In 2013, Dr Elizabeth Rata, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Auckland was quoted in the NZ Herald:
New Zealand's school curriculum has been hollowed out of knowledge as academic learning is increasingly abandoned for a misguided focus on skills and the process of learning, an academic claims.  University of Auckland education associate professor Elizabeth Rata has launched a blistering attack on the NZ Curriculum, calling it a social experiment that will deprive Kiwi kids of intelligence.

Her award-winning article, The Politics of Knowledge in Education, published in today's paper, has reignited debate about what children should be taught at school.  In it, she writes that "one of the great puzzles in education today is what has happened to knowledge".

"Why does our national curriculum not mention content knowledge? Why is it all about skills, competencies, and values? For the past few decades many in education have worried about how to teach, and rightly so, but in doing so, we have taken our eyes off what to teach."
Her ideological opponents sneered.

Influential educationist Professor John Hattie, said Professor Rata had presented knowledge and "skills, competence and values" as an either/or.  "It is not as simple as prescribing knowledge as if every student throughout New Zealand needs the same - wow, would that not help them in the world they now live in.

"I think Dr Rata has over-simplified the issue by looking at one document, has not been in many schools who are very imbued with domain knowing, and failed to see the many other demands in many New Zealand education system documents, assessments et cetera on schools."

Post Primary Teachers Association president Angela Roberts said since the new curriculum was introduced in 2008 there had been a significant shift in teaching approaches.  "We haven't replaced knowledge with skills and competencies ... The fact that subject-specific expertise is still required of teachers in secondary schools is evidence that academic knowledge is still the major focus of classroom teaching." 
All this was being debated in 2013--four years ago.  By now the claims and counterclaims of Angela Roberts and Professor Hattie ought to be proving up handily.  In fact they are being disproved.  How can we tell?  Despite all the smoke and mirrors, all the celebration of the wonderful flexibility and inclusiveness of the NZ Curriculum, one brutal reality confronts: New Zealand students are losing their ability to read.
Kiwi children's reading levels have dropped to their lowest level on record - and this time it is well-off Pākehā students who have plunged the most.  The latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), the first since the creation of national standards in 2010, shows that New Zealand has slipped 10 places from 22nd out of 41 countries in 2011 to 32nd out of 50 last year.  Australia, Austria, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain have all overtaken New Zealand, and five new countries with children reading above NZ levels have come into the survey for the first time.  [Simon Collins, NZ Herald]
The government school system, run by educationalist ideologues such as Angela Roberts and Professor Hattie, has celebrated an education system so flexible and so diverse that it can educate and expose children to every bee in the hive, whilst it ignores the queen.  As the hive dies when there is no queen, so knowledge dies when students do not know how to read, write, and do maths.  These are the fundamental life force of the hive.  The government school system has tossed them out--not overtly you understand. 

They have obscured the essential core subjects, and in the darkness, lost them.

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