I always knew this day was coming.
Readers may have read my most recent posting which — after a brief introductory account of personal experiences leading up to Tomorrow ’s Schools culminating in a decision to leave the formal education system — an article is reproduced from the first issue of my magazine, Developmental Network Newsletter. That article contains my predictions for Tomorrow’s Schools. As I wrote, it was as if from an unfurling scroll revealing one damn thing after another in relentless perversity.
I always knew this day was coming.
The seriously flawed system of Tomorrow’s Schools, based on a philosophy imported in 1989 from economics and re-expressed as managerialism did more than change organisational structures, it drastically changed the curriculum to one that fitted in with those organisational structures. It also changed (I would say propagandised) the value system of many of those involved in education.
Yes – I knew this day was coming. I worked strenuously to prevent the build-up but, like pushing water, it found a weakness.
The cluster system run by a government appointed executive principal should be seen as an archetypical culmination of the neoliberal philosophy underpinning Tomorrow’s Schools.
Given the needs of so many New Zealand children it is an obscenity.
If introduced, what will happen won’t happen overnight, just as it didn’t for Tomorrow’s Schools, but it will happen.
Over time, if you believe in the holistic; the lights will go out all over primary education.
As explained above, neither am I surprised that one of the teacher organisations is selling out.
That was always on the cards. The same arguments used by this teacher organisation to avoid having to call on moral courage are the same as those used by teacher organisations in the ‘90s, and as have been used in history in a myriad of fraught political situations. Why should we expect education organisations in New Zealand to be exempt from moral cowardice, barrenness of philosophy, a willingness to be swayed by absurd arguments, and outright stupidity? Why should we expect education organisations in New Zealand to be exempt from manipulating its members and speaking with forked tongue?
And with this teacher organisation, the NZPF, New Zealand hasn’t been.
Some people are drawn to the powerful as a moth to the light.
That is a reality of human nature. Having said that, we are still entitled to ask why the teacher organisation in question didn’t have the to-be expected checks and balances to provide some sort of organisational discipline? We are still entitled to ask, why all executive members are sitting pat, is their prime loyalty to the welfare of children or elsewhere?
The only argument we are hearing from the leadership of this organisation is that hoary one, much serried through long and constant use both today and in the past — that argument goes: it’s going to happen anyway so let us stay in the tent and make it less bad. That is no argument at all; it is just a sly rationalisation for a possible clutch of things: to stay attached to the powerful, to bask in that aura, to pander to ego, to stay comfortable, to avoid thinking for oneself, to avoid exposing oneself as an independent thinker and, most deviously, to provide cover for actually supporting the idea. These are horribly murky moral and ethical waters. There are no grounds for compromising principle in these circumstances — no one’s life or liberty is at stake – this is a disgraceful capitulation on disgraceful grounds.
The leader of the organisation has made constant reference to him knowing something that if everybody else knew, would find utterly compelling. That something was that the government was going to bring in the cluster policy with or without the teacher organisations. Yes – well it would say that, wouldn’t it, but even if true, so what? What does that reveal in the long term about the government that this organisation is in the tent with? A very bad augury if an organisation was looking for the signs but, of course, it isn’t, it has rolled over and is looking for a tickle on the tummy.
So every time a government says it is going to bring in a policy no matter what the principle should be: ‘Oh well in that case we will stop our opposition to it.’
Many inward-looking schools used the same argument in the matter of national standards; but many didn’t, hallelujah, and stood firm on principle, displaying moral courage, richness of philosophy, an aversion to absurd arguments, and high intelligence. The outcome was to discredit national standards and give some protection to teachers and children, and some prospect of national standards being dispensed with in the future. A stand on moral principle against a government wrong doesn’t need to defeat the government directly and immediately to achieve a fair amount of the purpose of the stand.
There is one thing that makes this display of moral cowardice, barrenness of philosophy, willingness to be swayed by absurd arguments, and outright stupidity particularly galling — circumstances have conspired to make the possibility of defeating the policy or seriously stalling it a very real one. If the teacher organisations combined on the issue, they have a compelling catch-argument, one capable of numerous variations around a theme: the huge amount of money, their teacher organisation spokespeople could say, would be better spent on children than lining the pockets of a few teachers and principals.
The sight of a sister teacher organisation making a brave and principled stand seems to have had no effect on the cold hearts of this other teacher organisation. Disunity amongst teacher organisations is manna to authoritarian governments, one that is sure to reap a rich managerialist reward over the years ahead. We have a government that has gone out of its way to do many bad things to the public schools of New Zealand, yet we have a teacher organisation that would rather be in the tent with that government than in the one with its sister teacher organisation.
Oh happy days!
A teacher organisation went with an issue to its members with a poll and they gave a resounding ‘no’; this teacher organisation organised a gathering in the name of that issue, and the waters were made murky with mentions of a tent — all was confusion; subsequently some bottom lines were announced that weren’t, they were dotted lines to capitulation; this organisation has no mandate to continue on the basis they are, but they are intent on doing so.
It is now with you.