Sunday, 16 April 2017


I watched Bryan Bruce's documentary again for the second time yesterday. The one about our world class education system.  It is an accurate picture of where things were at then and are still at.  Sadly the powers at be continue to ignore intelligent arguments such as this.

This one sentence sums it up for me "we are doing well despite the system."

And then I saw this on Facebook

The very sad reality is our education system is being modelled on this very idea...that home and school are two different worlds, that school is a place of sit down, shut up and home is where we have fun.

Why oh why would anyone in any sort of power follow a system like this when our curriculum should lead us down a similar path to Finland.  In Finland there is high trust, high trust at all levels of schooling, who what a novel idea that is!  In Finland they use brain research to realise what learning should look like (play) in those first couple of years at least.  They don't test, in fact they don't have a testing culture...and low and behold their education system is held in huge regard around the world...yet despite all of this, we follow a data driven system?

I know it is possible to create and cultivate a school that embraces how children actually learn, to have a curriculum that values the arts, that above all else values innovation, individuality and creativity, that values play as important and wants to cultivate problem solvers.  That is not driven by tests, in fact has gotten rid of most....and surprisingly still manages to 'tick' all the government imposed boxes.  But it requires trust.  Trust from the community, trust from the Board of Trustees, trust from the Principal, and trust in the children.  

Our system is currently being shaped by people that know nothing about how children learn.  They have no classroom expertise.  They don't appreciate that our deepest thinkers are probably those that don't do well on tests.  In fact they fail to see past the data.  

At our school we are incredibly lucky that while as a school of course we place reading, writing and maths in an area of importance of learning, it is not the be all and end all.  We have stuck to the curriculum, we have explored and embedded approaches like Mantle of the Expert and play-based learning and teaching on Kindness.   We have continued to embrace the Arts as an important part of our curriculum.  Funnily enough we have struggled along the way particularly when National Standards started taking hold, but have held firm to who we are as a school.  We want children to develop into citizens that have empathy and the power to think for themselves.  That enter the workforce, not expecting to be told the answer, or that there will be one answer.  That are able to make a difference in this world.  That continue to embody that Kiwi can do attitude.  

I know I am not the only one that feels this way.  But I think many have got trapped in the web that is data and have yet to see the way out of that web.  They need passionate teachers to show them the way out of the web.  We need to continue to raise our voices against the current system, against the current test driven path we are travelling.  We need to be brave and keep our passion for really teaching burning.

A good teacher teaches from the heart.  They are driven by best practice.  They let children direct learning.  They take time to listen, to sit with children, to know them, they often go off the cuff, they are driven by hunches and use their instinct...they truly understand how children learn.  

A good leader understands this.  They don't expect boxes to be ticked, but they do expect hearts to be filled with a love for learning that will go far beyond school.

We all need to be disobedient against this data driven system being imposed on us, leaders, teachers, parents, Boards, children.  Be strong, raise your voices, don't conform when conformity will mean our children miss out.

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