School Without Walls #3

READING the National Curriculum document due for implementation in 2011, and the various consultation documents, the language is not surprisingly very consensual. It remains incredibly conservative, making all the right motherhood statements you might expect. As I wade through it, highlight pen in hand, I’m trying to clearly identify ‘new’ ideas and ‘new’ approaches to actually solving and implementing 21st Century Pedagogy in curricula. Perhaps the most significant exclusion, ‘the Arts’, music, art, drama etc., still not being represented.

Laptops appear 2009, National Curriculum, 2011. This leaves just 11 months for stage 5 and 6 to get to grips with both. Are schools ready for either? Under investment, insular thinking, top down hierarchy and political agendas have left teachers with it all do to, in a frighteningly short timeframe. Within 5 years, students will be entering higher education and the workplace with a very different experience of technology in learning. The impacts are seismic.

The National Curriculum’s long consultation period seems misaligned with the un-predicted (though welcome) investment in public education. It is an exciting time; a short step from renewal and opportunity, or short drop to the abyss of confusion, poor implementation and frustration.

I am not sure that ‘training and resources’ approach to PD will work. ‘Taking the model to the masses’ is in no way ‘fun’ for those doing it. Its very hard work dealing with entrenched ideology, bad policy and unimaginative networks day in day out. Schools need strategy, planning, frameworks and lots of experienced support, based on ideas that work. Schools are still lock-stepped and locked down – and into this we hope to co-opt the brightest and most performing. Brave New World or Bladerunner? The National Curriculum is not addressing these issues, and public debate (or interest) is overshadowed by the GFC, Ruddy Laptops and e-Nation Building.

NSW is going to spend $16million over 4 years on the ‘Authority’ (thats the name they have given themselves) which according to the Education Minister Verity Firth is “a great show of faith in the state’s education system”. Perhaps the first cohort of ‘school without walls’ should be teachers in 2010 … and the first cohort of students, 2011 – That doesn’t seem too much of leap of faith.

2 thoughts on “School Without Walls #3

  1. Well said, Mr. Groom. While I am unfamiliar with Australian education politic, I do believe this issue knows no borders. Here in California, we face similar situations. What’s the quote from Bladerunner about machines? “They are either a benefit or a hazard.”

    • Very well said. Bureaucracies exist to essentially prevent change. When I look at the schools I’ve worked for and the systems I’ve been in that becomes abundantly clear. In a building it takes top down and bottom up forces to make the change actually happen.

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