Thursday, November 24, 2011

John Key and Mrs Tolley turn education into a McDonalds - principals will now become managers complying to franchise regulations.

Early this week National finally showed its hand about National Standards testing and 'league tables.

After months of weasel words Nationals agenda becomes painfully clear.

And on TV John Key happily blamed failing children on poor teaching - he evidently didn't see the programme shown the same week about the effects of poverty, poorly heated housing was creating for 1 in 5 children in such areas. And in housing managed by the government . Funny how the 1in 5 failing children fits the same data as Mrs Tolley's - this time the data is correct; not  simplistic political dogma spread by both Tolley and Key. I think we could correctly call it propaganda. The figures for failing children in these areas are greater than 1 in 5  due to poor housing resulting in health problems that civilised countries like Sweden have long since solved through integrated humanitarian policies. In New Zealand we still rely on the 'trickle down' theory that has failed wherever it has been tried - but the theory does save the self satisfied National voters facing up to reality. After all it is the poors own fault. All they need to get is job and all will be well - ignoring that there are no jobs to get!

Time will show John Key and Mrs Tolley to be the simplistic wreckers they are. In the meantime creative teachers will have to cope by going underground  and if the remainder can't see the problem then they will be seen as complying with the destruction of an education system once held in high esteem  by educators ( if not politicians and technocrats) around the world.

Principals who meekly went along with National Standards  will be seen as Judas Sheep or the Vichy ( who worked with the Germans) in France. Too few principals had the courage to stand up to such destructive polices and too few got together to make  a  group stand - I can only think of one group who did so led by Perry Rush. NZEI and NZPPF opposition was in itself not enough to make it clear to teachers and principals the need for action. 

To get an idea of what is about to rain on their heads teachers and principals need to read the Joe Stalin's approach to education and also click the  to Kelvin Smythe uncovering of the future agenda before it was announced.

Probably the best metaphor for the future direction of education is a comparison with McDonalds- and Ronald their clone like icon.

McDonalds is all about efficiency and standards - and each franchise can easily be reported on and help from the central office sent if necessary or the franchise removed.

Now I don't mind the odd McDonalds meal when in a hurry but as a diet it results in poor health. The biggest difference between a school and MacDonalds  will be that McDonald only takes in standardised potatoes and meat. Schools will have to take whichever students turn up -although students attending high decile schools, of course, will have the advantage of their parents 'social capital'. And the rich will simply avoid going to McDonalds school as they do now.

The McDonald story is quite interesting. By the 1950s one company was responsible for the the change in the American diet as fast food became the craze. One little restaurant in California sold more than any other in America. This was run by two brothers  - the McDonalds. The brothers were a success and opened others unfortunately for them they didn't like flying and Ray Croc bought the business and sold franchise  throughout America -  and the world. Standardised food had arrived.

The McDonald brothers originally started with a vision. They got rid of all the china, silverware and waitresses and reopened with customers coming to collect their own food - and they cut their menu to seven items. Customers only could specify the meal they wanted -  McDonald's became a success.

Every thing was standardised. The process was made into an assembly line. Kroc was obsessive that everything should be followed exactly -even down to the bun having 178 sesame seeds!

This all led a culture that was successful but dazzlingly unsympathetic to innovation; the formula worked.  A fifth of all meals eaten in the USA eaten in a McDonalds. This might account for obesity problems!

And if you think of it this can all be applied to schools.

The Ministry will determine the educational standards and 'best practice' processes to be followed.

Schools will report to the Ministry and the Ministry will ( Kroc like ) ensure any diversions from the standards are sorted out, or schools will be 'helped' by Ministry 'officials' - 'we are here to help you'.

Schools  will have to comply and to achieve fidelity to Ministry goals they will inevitably  cut back on areas of the curriculum not tested. As much as Mrs Tolley says this will not happen it has already has happened in the UK and the US.

Ministry 'helpers' will be  contracted to assist in the designated targeted standardised areas. ERO will complement the surveillance culture.

It will be  all about accountability, measurement, targets, efficiency and recorded progress -and sticks and carrots.

Innovation, diversity and creativity  -once the hallmark of our highly regarded system will go out the window.

Tough times for the creative.

No need for leadership ( what little there was) the future will be all about management.

I am pleased  I am out of it!

Only Ronald McDonalds (teachers, principals and students) will thrive -  the  different, the creative, and  those from different cultures will all be forced into a Procrustean curriculum bed  with only three slats - reading, writing and arithmetic.

We will have returned to Victorian days just as we need to encourage all the creativity and talent we can.

At least our future failure will be documented!


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