Education Act Review

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?

3 Comments Posted

  1. Agreed, and may I add. All children should be free to develop their intuitive feelings and understanding towards natural systems, as an open a path towards spiritual growth. My son is just gone 6 and is still read-too, and he doesn’t really read-with, but he does play cello and light a good camp fire. He’s lucky to go to a Waldorf Kindergarten, and the Steiner School next door will support his understanding from an organic perspective. This natural perspective is valuable in understanding our complex world. The logical “scientific” teachings that dominate our wounded school-system are not the keys to modern business models. Living-business and ecological-economic thinking is urgently needed. This relationship to nature is common with great leaders and even businessmen throughout history. Top Chinese business men talk about developing businesses like a cooperative eco-system, based on relationships of trust.

    Ecosystems and trust – sounds like Green thinking to me – so if some of the richest men in the world are joining our side (men like Jack Ma), then we’ve a bright future. May that brightness find it’s way to our schools – Thanks to Catherine and All for the progress we’re making behind the scenes.

  2. All children should be given the opportunity to learn to read, write and do simple counting before they start at primary school. My son and daughter did this and it had a huge difference to their primary school time. I used to read to them every day, then before they were five years old, they switched to reading to me and setting up numbers and counting etc. My son began at the school close to where we lived, but several years later was sent to another school as he was ahead of all the children in his class. My daughter began at her brother’s school as soon as she was five.

    Both of them also spoke some French. While they never took French as an option at school, my son still speaks it and my daughter can understand it and speak a little. She preferred to learn Spanish.

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