At this busy time of year, the Minister of Education has announced a review of aspects of the Education Act. Submissions close on Dec 14. There could hardly be a worse time for educators to engage with critical questions as they supervise and mark exams, organise prize giving and wrap up the year, but it is happening! So if you want to challenge the idea that education is about more than a narrow definition of “achievement” please engage with the review.
The Government review of the Education Act removes from the table anything that will involve spending more money, or challenging some of the most controversial policies of the National Government including National Standards, Charter Schools, the Investing in Success model and the new undemocratic Education Council.
The question which is raised by the Minister needs a strong response – what is the purpose of education? The purpose of education is so much more than basic literacy and leaving school with NCEA Level Two credits. From a Green Party perspective the purpose of education is for all our children to get a fair go to fulfil their potential, engage with the world and be lifelong learners. School should be an exciting place where exposure to broad and inclusive experiences build a love for lifelong learning! Education should celebrate cultural diversity and languages, welcome learning differences and include everyone. Judging by the submissions to our Inquiry on Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism in schools, we have a long way to go to meet that vision.
The Education Review also asks for our views on a Board governing multiple schools, children starting school in cohorts rather than on their birthday and rewarding successful schools while punishing “failing” schools. Presumably “failing” is based on the targets set by the Government – the unhelpful National Standards and the NCEA targets – because simplistic measuring has replaced a nuanced understanding of what educational context means in diverse communities. Inequality and poverty are the elephants in the school room debate which cannot be named.
Even a short submission is a valuable contribution so make you voice heard! What do you think education is for?