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.