Kiwis Know: Education Reform Is A Sham!

New Zealand Study Rocks Education Critics
Posted January 16th, 2009 by Peter Henry

Where to start with this one? You have to check this out.

How about one of the largest education studies of all time--83 million students across the world.

How about flying directly into the teeth of the notion that if we just get tougher, just assign more homework, just ratchet the standards/requirements a little higher, that we will get better results from kids.

How about showing clearly that taking standardized test after standardized test will not produce the kind of academic outcomes that lead to motivated, successful and fulfilled learners.

How about the radical notion that student "self-analysis" and reflection on their own learning is the best correlative for academic success.

Or, that teacher "feedback", immediate and detailed, is one of the most important inputs a student can get from school.

You have to check this out:
So Hattie advises parents to fret less about which school their child attends, and worry much more about the quality of individual teachers, especially their ability to give useful feedback.

"Ask your kids constantly what feedback have you got from your teachers? Don't ask `what have you learned?' Encourage them to look for feedback."

And teachers, Hattie says, should ask themselves, "how many of the kids in your classroom are prepared to say, in front of the class, `we need help', `we don't know what's going on' or `we need to have this retaught'?"

He says that sort of trust is too rare which is why he wants to work out a way of paying teachers extra for excellence, rather than experience.

"It's a lot easier to throw money at smaller classes, more equipment, more funding, to worry about the curriculum, to worry about the exams. "It's a hell of a lot harder to differentiate between good and bad teaching... I think we need to spend a lot more policies on worrying about this."
Teaching is a human profession. Learning is even more personal than that. Unless and until we are willing to acknowledge that it is much more about "working with" instead of "expecting more" we will not make any meaningful progress in the way we work with children.

I hear that Arne Duncan, Education Secretary Designate, is looking at bringing in some of the big "test and punish" thinkers from Washington think-tanks, like Andrew Rotherham, and the very chilly, Wendy Kopp. More testing, more standards, more threats, more punishment, more "accountability" for everyone.

But, as this New Zealand study shows, all this will accomplish is to push us further out to sea on an ocean of ignorance about what learning really is and how young people can get engaged in it.

Sad. Truly sad.
This is the kind of study that reinforces what good teachers already know; good teachers know how to reach kids, and the relationships students and teachers have has more impact on student learning than anything else. That is why the zeitgeist always seems to indicate that the public has a deep love for the greatness and personableness of teachers, and that teachers' personalities play a large part in the satisfaction and success of any given students' time in a school, but because we teachers are so fucking altruistic, we don't need money. The proceeding sentence is correct, except for the money part.

Knowing a subject well is necessary if one is going to teach it. Knowing how to excite children, and how to relate to children is far more important than knowledge in a subject area if you plan on imparting that knowledge to kids. Of course, if one doesn't know the subject, one shouldn't teach it. But the qualities that make a good teacher are not limited to subject knowledge. Indeed, subject knowledge should be the only given; the prerequisite. The interview for the teacher should focus on how the teacher will relate to kids.

My students know that asking questions is the sign of a good student. They know that knowing what they don't know is also very important. How the hell else can they improve unless they know these things?

Sometimes I read these studies, or hear researchers say things, and think to myself that if they had spent any time in a classroom, they wouldn't need the research; they would just know it. Let teachers teach. When students struggle and fail because of lack of funds, resources, and parents, don't fire the teachers!

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