Education is caught in no mans land - between an education suited for a unpredictable but potentially exciting future where students will need all their gifts and talents identified and all the learning power they can muster to thrive or an ideology that seems determined to conform teachers and students by standardized approaches tied to National Standards and league tables.
Mass standardisation or transformational personalised learning? To be or not to be....
Towards the end of the previous government the then Minister Of Education was keen to share ideas about the need for personalised learning an obvious extension of the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum. The new conservative government has another agenda – one determined by a corporate approach to learning (for more read about GERM). This new agenda is based around assessing children by ability against National Standards leading eventually to league tables and national testing. RecentlyNew Zealand educational academics came out strongly against such an approach. Read what Tapu Misa writes about league tables in the Herald
Ability grouping has long been take for granted but it is time to question this practice – schools that continue with such an approach are already well on the way to the standards approach.
New Zealand has had a well-earned reputation for creative holistic teaching – schools need to consider if it is worth putting this at risk.
The book Learning Without Limits developed from the practice of teachers some practical pedagogical principles that give schools keen to fight for what is right some guiding principles– to place inquiry learning central to their programmes as outlined in the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.
As teachers taught in a way that set aside notions of fixed ability were studied common principles emerged that contributed to the lifting all students’ capabilities.
Pedagogical principles to develop active learners:
Teachers had to to cope with the negative environment of imposed requirements as well as their own capacity building strategies – this made their work more difficult and demanding. Some of these constraints were mediated by the schools they worked in.
Teachers who want to follow a transformational (personalised) approach need to first free themselves from the constraints of fixed ability grouping – still the most common way to teach children in schools.
Check out this alliance of schools choosing not to use ability grouping