Monday, 24 September 2012

National Standards publication won’t fix cognitive child abuse

imageCartoon by Nick Kim

There’s a lot of cant been talked about National Standards and the publication on a national newspaper’s website of the results thereof.

The Prime Minister and the previous National Education Minister both insisted the results of National Standards tests would not be used or published as league tables—when it was apparent to everyone watching that they always would be.

The teachers unions complained the testing would be intrusive (true), and confusing (not true), but would overall be bad because it would demonise bad schools and focus only —when everyone with a brain knew their real reason for complaining was it would show up bad teaching, especially the bad or non-existent teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic, which should be (but isn’t) the core of any child’s schooling.

There is a lot of bad teaching about. Most of it teaching of reading, writing and mathematics—and most of that caused by the brain-dead teaching methods taught in teachers colleges and required by the school curriculum: “look and guess” non-reading; “cultural-historical activity” non-arithmetic; “constructivist” non-mathematics; “whole language” and “whole maths,” rapidly moving targets that teach neither –teaching methods all more focussed on “social” standards than rigorous academic standards, and every one of them committing cognitive child abuse.

Schools have been more interested in teaching the seven-lesson inculcation of servitude than they have been teaching literacy and numeracy. They’ve been uninterested in the huge numbers of functionally illiterate and totally innumerate young men and women they pumped out to fill the prisons (most of whose occupants can neither read nor write) the factories and, yes, the teachers colleges—where they head back to school to repeat the cycle again.

The fault does not lie with the 800,000 NZers so functionally illiterate they “struggle to transfer printed information to an order form,” and so functionally innumerate they cannot understand a bus timetable—that’s “close to 1 million working age adults in New Zealand [who] lack the literacy and numeracy skills needed to function in a modern workplace” and the modern world.

National Standards will do nothing to fix this problem. It will do nothing to fix the poor teaching methods producing this horde of illiterates. But it might at least embarrass the poorest performers to find better methods.

And maybe to sack those teachers unable to read or write properly themselves.

1 comment:

  1. The standards aren't a silver bullet but at least they're a step in the right direction, in that they attempt to measure performance with numbers that people can understand - as opposed to the vague and PC language of ERO reports where you really have to 'ready between the lines' to distinguish a well performing state school from one that's an abject failure.

    The opponents allege that their objection to national standards is the lack of a common objective base for scoring each school. In reality I think they're rebelling against objectivity and standards period - and simply can't tolerate the notion that there is such thing a thing as failure, and that where it exists you should be naming it and focusing on the problem.


We welcome thoughtful disagreement.
Thanks to a few abusers however, we (ir)regularly moderate comments.
We *will* delete comments with insulting or abusive language, unless they're entertaining. We will also delete totally inane comments. Try to make some sense. We are much more likely to allow critical comments if you have the honesty and courage to use your real name.