Monday, April 11, 2005

Not Competently Educated, Ah

I was pacing along Lambton Quay this afternoon, mind adrift in thoughts of work tomorrow, when I nearly bowled straight into one of our elected representatives. I recognised the face, and later clicked that it was the Minister that has recently been described by one of his colleagues as "smarmy". And I have to confess that this was probably a good thing, because if it had have been the Minister responsible for Education...

When I left my combined primary/intermediate school and went to high school, my mathematics skills were fairly impressive because of the great education I got at primary school. So impressive, that I was left to rot in mathematics classes until most other students caught up in the late fourth form. For me - I had two years without being pushed at school in mathematics.

That was my first hand experience that not everyone is capable of learning at the same speed, nor to the same levels. The yearly quantums that subjects were broken into are not granular enough to make it practial to mix both slow and fast learners. So, when I heard the NCEA was coming along and that it was going to offer a more modular approach to learning, I supported that, because it would allow the brighter kids to complete more modules and advance their learning and not be held back to the lowest common denominator.

However, we all know what the NCEA has since devolved into. The NCEA should not be about providing crappy life-skills credits at school. School is about providing more basic life skills. How to read, how to write and how to count. Life skills should be picked up outside of school - actually living, and not wrapped in fluffy Labour-red cotton wool (with a little hint of hemp-Green sinously attached).

Do I want to see a return to the old system that I went though. Nope. I believe that the courses offered at schools must return to similar 'more traditional' education - english, maths, science, history, economics etc. These courses should be broken down into modules which are more rigorously assessed than some of the NCEA standards that are being offered, including decent examinations.

I think with some not-to-significant tweaking, the NCEA could evolve into an excellent education system that provides a modular structure that allows students to learn at their own natural pace: -
  • Revert to traditional schooling subjects
  • Remove the airey-fairy lifeskills subjects - life is learnt outside the classroom thanks
  • Examinations and assessment in general must be much more rigourous
  • Results should have the politically-correct wrapper removed, and be returned to good old (percentage-like) numbers
However, I can't see the Labour party growing any more balls and making the required changes. It would be way too un-PC for them! Just like taxation distributes wealth among the populace, it appears that the current NCEA is being designed to distribute education.

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