Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Apathy Jack writes:

Right, I don't want to think about my school for a day or two but I still want to look at the idea of schools.

Of course, I'm too distracted to think of something properly, so I'll let this one be a Q and A session about New Zealand's schooling system.

Any questions?

If you can't think of any, feel free to use this as a discussion starter. (Article for those of you with dialup, but the videos are worth downloading for those of you with broadband.)

(And no, that isn't my school, but I am insanely jealous...)


Hewligan said...

You know, I don't think I've ever met a principal who wasn't a lying arsehole, and that one was no exception. The more recent ERO reports, for example, basically amount to "Well, you're not as mind-blowingly awful as you used to be."

Good on Slade Butler for not putting up with that shit.

Paul said...

So, uh

Q. Why is NZ's schooling system so completely retarded?
Q. Is it because left-wing pinkos are in charge?
Q. What can decent, God-fearing neocon zealots like me do about it?

T-Bird said...

I completely agree with Hewligan. Principals, politicians and other school administrators at school are completely compromised by funding issues and politicking.

My question:
Is NZ heading the way of Australia - where the government has proposed performance based pay? That is, you get paid better if your students perform well on national standardised tests?

What on earth is broken here? Don't people care what is going on?

Rich said...

Q. Should school be made fully free - e.g. fees banned?

Josh said...

I'll step back for a second and ask: Just how bad is it, anyway? Is our education system actually coming apart at the seams; is it getting worse; or do people just like to whinge?

Rich said...

Actually as someone from the UK I think it's rather good in some ways. Positive aspects:
- Most university courses are open (qualified) access rather than competititive admission as in the UK & US.
- The NCEA backs this up by being a test of ability rather than a competition
- The level of government imposed bullshit seems slightly lower

Bad points:
- There is a self-perpetuating elite of "posh" schools like Auckland Grammar, etc. A bit like UK public schools but at least those aren't taxpayer funded
- There seems to be a culture of encouraging (or at least failing to discourage) physical agression amongst young males. Jack - do you want to comment on this: ?

Hewligan said...

By-and-large, New Zealand's education system is pretty good. By no means perfect, and there's certainly room for improvement, but definitely better than most other countries.

Which definitely isn't "retarded."

The problems with it are definitely not because of "left-wing pinkos," either. Most of the system as it exists today is a product of the 90's National government and the 80's Labour government - who can hardly be described as notoriously left-wing.

The current government has really done little more than tinker around the edges of an already established system. Most of their tinkering has arguably improved it, and certainly made it no worse, but either way the changes were small.

And the best thing a "God-fearing neocon zealot" can do for our education is stay the fuck away from it.

Apathy Jack said...


"Q. Why is NZ's schooling system so completely retarded?"

Mostly because of the left-wing pinkos.

"Q. Is it because left-wing pinkos are in charge?"

Yes, yes it is.

"Q. What can decent, God-fearing neocon zealots like me do about it?"

Just keep pushing for evangelists to come into schools and give Bibles out to the children and continue to promote a culture where being gay is a serious crime, but fag-bashing is okay if it's done by people who like rugby.

You know, just stay the course...


"Is NZ heading the way of Australia - where the government has proposed performance based pay?"

No serious talk of that. Some of the smaller right-wing parties have made noises about this, but no one is seriusly considering it.


I really like the idea of performance based pay, but I don't see a viable way of making it work.
Easy, say most poeple I talk to, just look at the exam results, and give more money to those teachers whose students pass in greater numbers.

Except: I have two Year 12 classes this year. One is a very small class composed of very high ability students with strong work ethics. The other is a larger class, which has a number of disruptive students who don't work anywhere near as hard.

I am teaching these two classes the exact same thing at the exact same time - one after the other every day, as it happens, and I already know that the assessment results for these classes are going to be wildly different.

Performance based pay only works in teaching when you can come up with a reliable way to measure performance that take sinto account the ability, education history, attendance rate and attitude of each individual student.

It's too big a job.


"Q. Should school be made fully free - e.g. fees banned?"

Most of my kids don't pay them anyway, and there's no downside. Sure, we don't give them the perrenially late and shoddily-produced school magazine, but they usually procure one from somewhere regardless.

I don't think we should have school fees, but I think schools should be funded more than they are. Of course, that's a whole other discussion...


"Is our education system actually coming apart at the seams; is it getting worse; or do people just like to whinge?"

A little from column A, a little from column B.

People will always whinge - it's human nature.

That having been said, the fact that NCEA was introduced before all the bugs were worked out, and is so unfriendly to prospective employers and tertiary institutions that it almost could have been designed specifically to spite them, means that when people are looking for something to whinge about, they don't need to look far.

I'm not sure if the education sector is getting worse (Hoodrat High is certainly spiralling down the toilet and gaining speed) but there are legitimate problems, yes.

Rich (again):

The Slade thing is pure gold. Now, what people don't seem to have realised is that he is by no means a normal sixteen-year-old. He speaks with eloquence that is almost unheard of among his peers - he speaks a lot like his step-mother in fact. My guess is that he's been raised watching a lot of left-wing documentaries. Also, when a kid is scared, he usually just buggers off home for a while - staging a strike, agains not normal for a sixteen-year-old.

But hell, it was still a great thing, and it sends a hell of a message. And as many have pointed out: the Principal may not think there's a violence problem at his school, but two hundred of his students disagree with him...

Paul said...

'And the best thing a "God-fearing neocon zealot" can do for our education is stay the fuck away from it.'

Guess I should stop teaching then...

Eric Olthwaite said...

1) Your thoughts on school zoning.

2) Your thoughts on vouchers.

3) On a scale of 1-10, how useful has your teaching degree been in preparing you for real-life teaching?

4) The name of that comedian who did the guitar competition you were telling me about.

5) Looking at Warwick Elley's article linked to here

would you agree with him that there are subjects that NCEA will not work with (I note he says "I started challenging NZQA in 1991 to give an example of a clear and explicit standard in English or History or Science. I am still waiting."), and that in the NCEA compatible subjects the number of levels (merit, excellence etc) needs to be increased.

6) Do you think the blogger comments box is the most useless thing in the world?

7) A question of your own choosing.

Some comments of my own. I do not regard the problems associated with performance based pay as intractable. All you have done (in my humble opinion) is point out some variables that need to be taken into account - the decile of the school and class size, and maybe a few others. I'm sure it wouldn't be impossible for some brains to put together a workable reasonably fair system that woulk improve things.

Josh said...

Eric, I don't know about most of your points, but I will say a big fat "NO" to the idea of more assessment levels -- all that is is a half-arsed attempt to turn standards-based assessment back into norm-referenced assessment (ten levels of assessment = mark out of ten). I don't see how having one system pretending to be another will make anything less complicated.