To read this #digitaledchat storify, please click on the image below.
Thank heavens for tweetdeck. I got so into this chat that if I hadn't scheduled the questions, we probably would have only had two posted at best. What came through this chat was the need for cultural awareness to be presented implicitly and explicitly in the classroom and beyond. As many of the posts emphasised, students and indeed citizens who don't have effective cultural awareness will surely struggle in a world that is getting smaller and more united and collaborative day by day.
To read this #digitaledchat storify, please click on the image below.
The recent comments by NZ's Education Minister Hekia Parata regarding the need for more testing at Year 9 and Year 10 was not only extraordinarily bizarre but also likely to cause unnecessary consternation for the students, schools and parents concerned.
In the NZ Herald article Younger students face testing times, she is quoted as saying:
"If you look at the system from when a child starts school to when a child leaves school, the hole in the system in terms of the absence of an assessment tool is Year 9 and 10," Ms Parata said during a question and answer session at the NZ Principals Federation conference."
Has our minister not heard of P.A.T., e-asTTle or MidYIS or heaven, formative assessment, let alone learning? Now that would be one announcement I'd love to hear!
Even better she goes on to be quoted as highlighting: Schools would be able to choose which option worked best for them." What freedom of choice! Students (and school communities) in a country of just over million are going to end up with nationally "comparable statistics" in reading, writing and numeracy from basically an "anything goes" evidence base of Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJs) to potentially a formal one-off assessment context such as a junior mCAT.
Now don't get me wrong, I have no objection to students being accurately assessed in terms of their reading, writing and numeracy and my additional preferences oratory and digital competency. I do however have considerable objection to such a context proposed here when it seems the legitimate and authentication integration of learning and assessment can and has occurred in many New Zealand & global school contexts for at the very least ten to fifteen years.
Before examining the point and/or rational of filling in such "an assessment hole" in these junior years, let's take a closer look at the options suggested:
The saying "a little bit of knowledge..." comes to mind here. Any testing that occurs in a school must be authentic, timely and part of the students' learning journey. The testing must be for the students, parents, community and lastly the government. It is interesting to note that the article suggests that the funds for this testing could come from IES (Investing in Educational Success). I always thought that the focus of this programme was better learning collaboration and communication, not a fund for questionable testing regimes.
Thankfully the news my dear friends is not all doom and gloom for we do have voices of reason noted in the article. Thankfully Sandy Pasley and Patrick Walsh stood firm in such a mire with the last and hopefully final word on this "initiative" best left to Walsh, the principal of John Paul College, "There's an argument to say, well, let's just focus on learning in Year 9 and 10." Amen to that!
This is a fantastic summary of how we want and need our youth to move within, forward and beyond our education system to ensure the best possible outcomes for the individual, the family, the community and the country now and going forward.
It seems a huge shame that such an important document is not regularly referred to in school change and strategic discussions. The groundbreaking nature of this document is most notable for the fact that it relegates the learning areas to the back of the document, appropriately prioritizing vision, values, key competencies and then the learning areas with all facets underpinned by appropriate principles (inclusive of among others; high expectations, the Treaty of Waitangi, learning to learn). This document and most importantly the philosophy and intent behinds the words and images.
But why is the New Zealand Curriculum so important for New Zealand and its students and future going forward?
1. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be CONFIDENT. Those New Zealanders who have excelled on the world stage have done so through their extraordinary ability (physical, intellectual) but all the ability in the world counts for nothing if our students are also not "positive in their own identity, motivated and reliable, resourceful, enterprising and entrepreneurial, and resilient" (NZC, p8). To a certain extent, this is little about content the "what" we teach but more about the "how" we teach or importantly how our students learn and increasingly, self-learn.
2. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be CONNECTED. "The expectations of students "ability to relate well to others, effective users of communication tools, connected to the land and environment, member of communities, international citizens" (NZC, p8). For me, this is the greatest need for our students and the greatest deficiency currently in our education system and in the minds of the teachers. In an era where teachers are way down the list in terms of being "content holders" but at the top of the list in terms of coaching and facilitating learning, the ability of technology to close the world and make all information available at the click of a button or touch of a screen does not require a subtle in current methods of teaching and learning, it demands a dramatic and rapid transformation. When I can take part in a twitter chat with Texas educators on Monday lunchtime (#txedchat), the need for our students to understand not just how to engagement but also lead global discussions requires knowledge and actual ability in not digital competency but also citizenship.
3. It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be ACTIVELY INVOLVED. To be blunt, to cease or not be "actively" involved ceases the relevancy of those concerned. The NZC desires students that are "participants in a range of life contexts, contribute to the well-being of New Zealand- social, cultural, economic, and environmental" (p8). For our students to be 'actively involved" in an increasingly digitized and connected" they need to be comfortable and capable on all of the analogue and digital, local and global stages. The pedagogy -in-play must of such design and implementation that students can only participate AND lead in the various contexts of New Zealand today and today going forward. It is also essential that teachers grow students who can think, lead and act globally as much as in their local and national communities. This will enable New Zealand and its citizens to retain relevancy in terms of global progress, concerns and contributions. After all remember it was New Zealand who first gave the women the vote over one hundred years ago!
4.It emphasizes the need for New Zealanders to be LIFELONG LEARNERS. When New Zealand as a country has students and indeed citizens who are "literate and numerate, critical and creative thinkers, active seekers, users and creators of knowledge, informed decision makers", we are now only future-proofing our individuals, but also our communities and country and ensuring our future effectiveness. To enable citizens with the above attributes requires a priority on the journey as much as the destination. Arguably the "how" and "when, where" of student learning is more important and future-valid than the "what", which in most cases, will be cease to be relevant long-term. While the content for learning is now constantly evolving, the "how, when, where" of student learning requires teachers to be vital tools in ensuring students now understand:
The challenge and transformation in front of today's New Zealand educators and students and community is immense but albeit necessary, not only for the now, but for the effectiveness of our individual and collective futures. Belief in the need for transformation and the prevailing visible vision is essential as is a desire to be involved, to contribute to create and to lead. Such a future future context can only be affirming and beneficial for the individual, community and country.
In 2016 and onwards, Aorere College has a vision of every student being a competent, global, digital participant in education and beyond. Such an aspiration links clearly to the intent of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) that desires the following: