Ministry for Love in Education: NZEI

I have just watched the president of NZEI deliver an address to NZEI members extolling the virtues of the Communities of Learning.

I intend in this posting to concentrate on just one matter, the matter of the Big Lie.

As a reader of history, especially of the effect of propaganda on populations, watching the president extolling was a disturbing experience.

There were two lies, one of symbolic significance, and the other the Big Lie.

The numbers for and against the so-called Communities of Learning were given but not the numbers who didn’t vote. That omission was not by accident; it was an omission directly from the Orwellian Ministry of Love in Education.

That was the matter of symbolic significance.

The advocacy for the Communities of Learning is based on a Big Lie, put forward first, of course, by the government, then given academic support by an education historian, now repeated by the head of the Ministry of Love.

The purpose of the cluster idea is, of course, to aggregate schools for ease of control. What else could be the purpose given that there is still in place a non-accountable education review office; the exclusion of teachers from policy formation; the exclusion of teachers from the teachers council; national standards; a curriculum based on measurable objectives; a curriculum developed on a continuous basis in review and ministry offices; a curriculum based on there being one way of doing things; systemic bullying and fear-based control; professional development as an extension of the bureaucracies; academia controlled by contracts; and a vast and intrusive centralised propaganda machine?

The government cover story for clusters is that they are for getting teachers to collaborate, the bait, a kind of obedience-performance pay for a group of teachers.

The Big Lie was picked up by Cathy Wylie, an academic historian for the NZCER. Her reading of the Tomorrow’s Schools period was that the big weakness of that philosophy in action was schools competing with one another. This analysis was her Big Mistake, contributing to the government’s Big Lie.

Under Tomorrow’s Schools, schools were isolated from one another, bereft of the previous supports such as independent advisory and academic support; lacked the freedom of thought and action that made it worthwhile and allowable to have interchanges in various forums with other schools; and had a less sympathetic, informed, and constructive supervision (in fact, the bureaucracies became instruments of repression and fear).

You dunderhead Cathy, the issue is the degree of freedom not collaboration as another word for do what you are told but together.

No-where did I read as she claims that the big problem was schools competing with one another.

Schools became popular and less popular on the basis of the number of Maori and Pacific Island children in the school population not on performance driven by competition.

Neither did I read teachers and schools making a big issue of competition.

But at this moment, I correct myself – and what a correction.

Wow! reign in the horses.

Competition on school results did become a big issue further down the track – when national standards and league tables came in. The government, NZEI, and Cathy Wylie have aligned themselves with the very government that introduced sharp-edged competition between schools.

This is your Big Mistake NZEI and Cathy Wylie, and soon to become the Big Burden for teachers and the Big Mistake for children.

Forced narrow learning has seen New Zealand drop in performance, even in the narrow learning measures on which testing concentrates; god knows where we are in important learning.

And now more of the same but with knobs on – champion.

Well done Cathy and Louise – champion.

The so-called Communities of Learning will be not be centres of collaborative learning but centres for forced learning of a narrow and desiccated kind that promise only more misery for teachers and impoverished  learning for children– champion. (Just as for Tomorrow’s Schools there will be a honeymoon period but the breakup will not be long in the coming.)

Government and Ministry of Love in Education propaganda; repression of teachers freedom to speak; and fiddling of marks – will provide some kind of cover, but at the expense of children’s genuine learning and an honest education system.

I want to make it absolutely clear – the children getting the worst education from the system are the ones needing the best, and that is set to get even worse – champion.

I could spit tacks.

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10 Responses to Ministry for Love in Education: NZEI

  1. Moira says:

    couldn’t agree more – scary times ahead even for us in early education. ERO already making a big deal out of assessment.

  2. Paul says:

    Absolutely correct. I remember NZSTA trumpting that BOT’s were supportive of National Standards on the back of receiving 18 (yes 18) replies to a survey sent to schools just prior to the Christmas break. Never thought I would see NZEI pull the same trick. Sadly, the supporters of COS/COL are either the shifty or the ill-informed or both.

  3. John Carrodus says:

    Your pencil is sharper with each battle Kelvin. A spear through the heart of each wriggling tenticle of this monster rearing over our schools. The system is now but a rusty old shell hole ridden frigate hulk listing under a darkening sky.
    The power behind these sea changes will no doubt soon switch focus from the decoy of national standards ( and core curriculum) to the new world standards ( order) in citizenship, co-operation and sustainable environments under a unified political international alliance.You can call it by it’s true name, but I suspect it will have many others.

  4. kellyned says:

    Hi Kelvin
    It is hard to find anyone who isn’t troubled by these developments. A real distraction in many ways from the real issue at hand. Collaboration has such a nice ring to it – but you would think after all these years with this deceptive government spin machine on the job that we would be awake to the real agenda by now.
    For me and my school i am in a dilemma. None of my people (including the BoT) think the strategy will work in terms of the stated goal of raising student achievement (because it is not an in school issue) yet with the schools around us all joining together it is hard to be left out.
    That sounds a bit like kids picking sides for softball, but that kind of is how it is.
    Maybe we will just sit a bit longer and watch……..

    • Kelvin says:

      I completely understand kellyned, which is why so many principals voted for clusters. How likely is NZEI to protect schools that stand out?

  5. Paul says:

    I don’t think that it is hard to be ‘left out’. I think that it is imperative to be ‘left out’. Like the battle against National Standards it is a badge of honour. What we need is somewhere where schools can register their non interest in clusters so that we can see just how many of us see it that way.

  6. Paul says:

    That only 30 odd % of principals who saw worth in voting at the NZEI is quite telling (as is that 30 % of those voted against despite the clear pro vote work by NZEI). Though it could be that principals saw the writing on the wall and simply couldn’t be bothered going to a meeting for a vote they knew was already decided.

  7. Kelvin says:

    I agree with you Paul to the extent that there needs to be an organisation for those who don’t sign up, worked out with NZEI and PPTA, involving executive members appointed to check out any subsequent bureaucratic bullying and to support interchanges of various kinds between the independent schools. I fervently expect and hope some schools to stand out as a witness. I would be on hand to explain those schools’ rationale and report any mistreatment, but I could only be a bystander, active as I might be. However, I’m leaving it to principals and their consciences and particular circumstances. Surely, there must be at least two members of the NZPF executive who could perform the protecting and supervising role. By the way, if something like this did happen it would put a huge check on the neoliberal ambitions of the government for their clusters. From where I think you are Paul, Pat Newman isn’t on the exec, but he would perform the role admirably for the northern area. Get cracking! I will help where I can be thought useful.

  8. poled says:

    In 2010 Marlene Campbell made the national news for making reference to Hitler in talking about Anne Tolley.
    Ms Tolley and the outraged critics through the country might like to tell us now that we do not have a fascist system.

    • Allan Alach says:

      And I made the national news in 2011 for a throwaway comment on one of Bruce Hammonds’ blog posts where I referred to ERO as the ‘gestapo’….. How that came into the light of day is still a mystery to me.

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