A friend asked me for a teacher’s perspective on this article. I got into rant mode, but it’s bullet-pointed, easy-to-read rant mode, so I thought I’d share it here as well.
I’m interested in hearing (or rather, reading) your thoughts, both from New Zealanders, and comparisons to other countries. These are children we’re talking about. Education affects all of us.
1. How do you judge a ‘good’ teacher? Frankly, 99% of teachers in New Zealand are fantastic.
2. Lower class sizes is a good, common-sense idea. Better for students and teachers, and creates more jobs.
3. NCEA is a good assessment system – but it is an ASSESSMENT system. Our school curriculum is separate to this (but linked).
4. Having national standards for core subjects is not a bad thing. It’s a straightforward tool for how well a student is doing. However, it does not (necessarily) show the progress a child has made. All it is doing at the moment is upping the anxiety level of learners who are underachieving.
5. The statement at the end sums it all up: “It’s not one-size-fits-all.”
6. Mental health / self-esteem is a huge factor in all of this. Students who are underachieving do not think highly of themselves, and I can say with absolute confidence that this is one of the biggest factors in their achievement. One more thing PISA results (as referred to in the article) showed is that student anxiety has risen in the last 5 years.
If I could change one thing about the schooling system, it would be mental health facilities. Students need good counsellors, self-confidence, and self-esteem. They need to know they are capable of far more than they think they are.