Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Saving State Education

I continue to be alarmed at our present government's drive towards privatising education. From the injection of money in the 2009 budget towards private schools (more here) to the recent moves towards charter schools we seem to ignoring what is an amazing state education system which we should be protecting at all costs. In 2009 I spent 3 weeks on a Woolf Fisher Fellowship in Australia and I was concerned by the growing enterprise in privatizing education. Almost a third of students in Australia now attend private schools and the rate of increase doesn't seem to be slowing. As sited below, increases in private school student numbers far out weigh those in government education.  

Although government schools continue to educate the majority of students in Australia, the number of students enrolled in non-government schools has been increasing at a faster rate over the last decade. Since 2000, Catholic and Independent schools had the largest proportional increases in the number of students (11% and 37% respectively) while the number of students in government schools increased by only 1.3%. Australian Social Trends.

My concern is that our country is moving more towards this model, a market driven model and a failed model internationally. The recent Fairfax news article entitled Finnish lesson: No charter schools, publish in the Manawatu Standard, gives a superb overview of these concerning trends and possible consequences. Alongside this the article highlights lessons that can be learned from Finnish system. As John O'Neill from Massey notes...

They recognised that “there is a strong correlation between poverty, particularly intergenerational poverty, and educational achievement”. And they “had a strong commitment to equity”.
In Finland, equity means “a relatively homogeneous schooling system”, O’Neill says... Finland has no private schools.

We need to hold on to what we have and not let the GERM movement corrupt our wonderful state system, where education is accessible to all.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Teachers as Learners

This year at Freyberg High School we've been encouraging staff not just to talk about life long learning but to actually take on a new challenge as a learner. Of course we are always learning new things but often in a daily work, new systems, new technologies and so on. The idea here is for us to put ourselves back into the position of being a learner with something completely new, while also reminding ourselves there is life beyond our jobs and to be learners is not an indulgence, not just something that takes us away from what we feel we should be doing (more work), but something that enriches us as individuals and embraces the notion of being life long learners.

My focus has been on trying to do a bit of print-making. I have enjoyed thinking about how I have taught myself to do this and to think about my own learning. I know I forget what it's like to be a student every time I spend a day at some sort of professional development - how exhausted are we after just one day of sitting there concentrating? In contrast to what I imagined I'd need to do my approach has been to try and just work it out by doing. I have looked at lino prints in books or online and sat there thinking out how it could be achieved. I've enjoyed chatting with art teachers, the owners of a local art shop and playing with things in my head. Then following a few conversations and thinking a possible process through I was ready to give it a go.  I just thought I'd learn by doing, take on board my mistakes and learn from them. The process has been rewarding and below shows the series of steps I went through. I have absolutely no idea if the process is the right process but I'm happy enough with the final product and the enjoyment I've experienced in the process. The question I have as I reflect on my lessons is what opportunity do I give for my students to learn like this?  The challenge therefore is to think of ways I can and reading "why floundering is good" it seems there's plenty of benefits to nutting things out - a "hidden efficacy" through understanding the structure of problems, not just the correct solution.

For myself, now comes the time for further refining...that's life as a learner I suppose, do we ever really reach the destination, and isn't the fun is in the journey as well?!

Step 1 - I drew the outline of the picture I had in my head on the lino

Step 2 - I used small carving tools to remove lino to leave the image I wanted to print.

Step 3 - I used a roller to roll on the paint

Step 4 - printed onto paper and peeled the lino back to reveal my first lino print creation.