Tuesday, 11 January 2022

"There has been considerable debate around the intersection of NCEA, mātauranga Māori, and science. But it is the wrong debate...."


"There has been considerable debate around the intersection of NCEA, mātauranga Māori, and science. But it is the wrong debate....
    "Like many of the significant shifts we have seen in education and NCEA over the last few decades, the current debate is underpinned by slogans and little if any evidence....
    "First, there should be no doubt that our national teaching of science, technology and mathematics (henceforth just “science”) delivers cruel results.
    "In 2018-19 our 13-year-olds scored their worst-ever results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (60 countries); and 15-year-olds had their worst-ever Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results in reading, mathematics and science (about 90 countries)....
    "We have been in both relative and absolute decline for more than 20 years. The economic costs to the nation and the impact on individuals of this are truly appalling. Read An empirical portrait of New Zealand adults living with low literacy and numeracy skills, by an AUT study group, and then weep – I did....

"But ... the relative performance of Māori and Pasifika peoples in science education is a dark stain on our nation, and we simply must address it.
    "The current slogan for the NCEA changes [requiring the teaching of mātauranga Maori as coequal to science] appears to be, 'Many Māori are disengaged from science because they don’t see their culture reflected in it.'
    "There is no evidence that such a claim has any bearing on education success rates...

"It is ridiculous to assume that students who are from lower socio-economic backgrounds, or who are Māori and Pasifika, are not as smart, or able; it is about opportunity to learn. Our system and its prejudices denies the opportunities to those who might most benefit.
    "Another slogan: 'Elevating the status of mātauranga Māori is not about undermining science. It is about incorporating genuinely useful indigenous knowledge, such as approaches to environmental guardianship, that complements science.'
    "My view is that that is a very generous interpretation of what the NCEA changes actually offer. But more importantly, such tinkering with some NCEA standards is not going to deal with the real problems.
    "Because ultimately, this debate reflects a cynical ploy by the Ministry of Education, pretending to address the seriously inequitable outcomes of our system. The real issues are very hard and there is no quick fix."

~ Gaven Martin, matfermatics professor at Massey University, from his op-ed 'We are having the wrong debate over how we teach science'

[Hat tip Jerry Coyne, from his post 'What's Going On in New Zealand? Three Easy Pieces.' Also worth reading is his thoughtful follow-up: 'Is Learning Through Trial and Error 'Science'?'

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