Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advice for 2009!!!!!

From a NZ teacher teaching in Melbourne – is this is what is in the future for us? Not so much the ‘nanny state’ but the ‘big brother’ state!

‘We are right into national testing over here. There is now national testing of all year 3, 5, 7, and 9 students. It just used to be in the other states. Victoria used to be told that we were lagging behind the other states but now, low and behold, after national teaching we are one of the top states. We also have online testing in Numeracy and Maths with the results going to the Department. This is done 3x a year. Our reports are also put directly into the Department. Accountability is everything, don't worry about the teaching. We are told that it does not matter where the students start our job is to get them up to national average and they are trying to bring in performance based pay as well. Also pay incentives for expert teachers and principals to work in disadvantaged areas.’

Read what Kelvin Smythe is on to - urgent

My good friend Paul Tegg recently send the below out to a number of schools he works with. I had forgotten I had written it and thought it worth repeating -even if to see what 'we' didn't achieve!

On more positive note an emphasis for 2009?

Developing Schools as ‘Communities of Inquiry’.

Challenge for 2009: To make the ‘Inquiry’ disposition central to all learning

The ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum is all about students being: creative energetic and enterprising’ able to ‘make sense of their information, experiences and ideas’ so as to become ‘ confident , connected and actively involved life long learners.’

It asks schools to develop students who ‘are competent thinkers and problem solvers who actively seek, use, and create knowledge’. This involves giving students more choice and responsibility over their learning leading to a more ‘personalized’ approach.

The NZC is asking schools to develop an inquiry approach to all learning; to develop schools as ‘communities of inquiry’. An inquiry approach is about engaging students in difficult questions and issues that are meaningful to them. It is about placing ‘learnacy’ above literacy and numeracy.

This would be a major change of focus for schools. (And one few schiools took)

The need is to present learning contexts to challenge students (‘rich topics’) to be able to research and ‘reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.’

Schools need to sort out an inquiry model for students to make use of. This model needs to move beyond the mere gathering of information to the deep construction of thoughtful understandings and, at the same time, develop the ‘key competencies’ or future attributes, or attitudes, or dispositions, required for ‘life long learning’.

Class inquiries ought to provide the ‘energy’ to focus the greater part of the school day and include the teaching of information research and presentation as part of the literacy programme as well as mathematical ideas that maybe required as part of any inquiries. The NZC suggests ‘doing fewer topics in greater depth’.

Such inquiries may feature one Learning Area in particular but will most likely involve aspects (strands) of other learning Areas as well. The curriculum is to be seen as ‘deep’ ‘connected’ and integrated. Teachers may need to plan collaboratively.

Teachers will need to develop focused independent group work in all learning blocks including dedicated inquiry time. Groups, or individuals, may research individual aspects and then to share findings, with a wider audience through exhibitions, publications, demonstrations, performances, information media, or posting on web. Such findings are powerful means of assessing depth of understanding and knowledge of process.

By covering a range of inquiry topics (covering the full range of learning Areas Strands) students will also be given the opportunity to uncover hidden gifts, talents and interests that might become life-long passions, or vocations.

Lack of dedicated inquiry time is an issue so the idea of ‘reframing’ the literacy and numeracy blocks to develop appropriate research skills would seem an obvious answer. This would also include integrating use of ICT

Somehow we never realized shools as 'communities of inquiry' - instead we are getting 'schools of compliance and conformity' -except for Charter Schools who are getting the freedom that all state schools ought to have. We didn't fight hard enough - we didn't really fight at all! We didn't defend the 2007 National Curriculum!! I wouldn't want principals on my side in a battle!

So what is the agenda for schools in 2012 - is there life beyond compliance . Or are we heading to a Medieval Dark Ages in education? Maybe all schools ought to become Charter Schools?

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