Friday, June 25, 2010

Lucia Deborah Hill Cone on National Standards [UPDATE]

After being given the fright of my day by the picture on the left (it almost looks like what isn't shown is an adult in a school girl's uniform), I read the article by Deborah Hill Cone (Herald business columnist!) on her experience with National Standards being applied to her five year old.

This is in line with what I've being saying all along (here, here and here)...
My daughter was apparently doing fine actually - as far as I could tell - but it was difficult to work this out as all the focus was on her areas of ineptitude. It seems this is what national standards do to you. She is 5. Let me say that a bit louder: SHE IS FIVE.

How did this craziness come to be? When I went to see the principal he said "Well there are National Standards now, you know."
Just to remind everyone, I have read the National Standards, and I totally disagree with the direction they have taken with six year olds, or those who have completed one year of school. So, it is a bit strange that Deborah's five year old is being measured against the Standards when she has only completed half a year of school.

Deborah is worried that the teachers, who in her school did not support the Standards, are taking out their "Standard" angst on her daughter and the other children.

The school previously had a sign outside saying it did not support the introduction of national standards, so presumably this was not being done with especially good grace. I can't help wondering whether teachers bringing in something like this reluctantly are actually going to do more harm than good - "sorry your child just got emotionally lacerated but it's not our fault - blame Anne Tolley".
It could be that there is some of that involved. However, I also think Deborah Hill Cone should read the Standards herself, just to see what is expected of children after one year of school. She'll find it's far more than she expects.
When do I get a chance to turn the teeny weeny table and give the teacher a "parent-led" conference? She can sit in judgment on my 5-year-old daughter yet I get no say about her performance as a teacher? I'd like to sit her down on a small chair. I would tell her it's most important to love kids and show them that learning is the coolest thrill they will have in life. I would tell her moods are contagious - if you have lots of positive energy kids will catch that. They are more likely to learn by having the best fun ever.

I would tell her that at 5 my daughter has boundless enthusiasm for trains and the World Cup and Uno and her Transformers scooter with light-up wheels.And yes, she likes reading books and having cuddles and sitting on the mat. And by those national standards, she is doing just fine.

You won't get that in NZ's schools anymore. If you want that, you'll just have to pull your daughter out and homeschool her.

Related link: Oh, to turn the tables on teachers ~ NZ Herald

UPDATE : 2nd link for my opposition to National Standards posts is fixed.

4 comment(s):

Shem Banbury said...

I agree with what you have said in your posts - the National Standards are a complete waste of time and I cant see why National want to push them through.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Once the standards are in place the problem will be that there is different measures or standards at different schools so a test will be bought in to make it fair.

While I am not against tests the reality is that testing at an extremly young age has the most damage to the children.

I think in todays paper there is a move from the NZEI (Primary union) to boycott all National Standards professional development.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Ozy,

I'm so glad you agree. I'm looking at all of this from the outside, but you're there in the thick of it! It must be frustrating to say the least, and I've not even touched on how the Standards might affect the older primary classes.

I did an experiment last year, and tested the Math Standards for 8 year olds (what they should be able to do by the end of the year) on my 8 year old in the middle of the year, and he couldn't do the one problem I gave him. It required times tables abilities and a bit of algebra. He's not up to algebra yet, and he's doing really well with Math. In fact, he gets it.

I think the purpose of these National Standards is 1) To make National look like they are doing something; and 2) to take political control of schooling.

No 2 is far more scary.

Lucia Maria said...

That should have been about my 8 year old ... and *yet* he gets Math.

Of course, my 8 year old is not at school, so it's neither here nor there.

Shem Banbury said...

You have to remember that the standards are based on the numeracy project which is a style of teaching maths that most primary schools adopt. However, once they get to high school most dont use the numeracy project and revert to a more structured and more direct style of teaching.

I wouldn't worry most of the students I teacher cant reach the standard they are supposed to be at. And I teach at a high decile intergrated school.

Things are worse with the writing standards which I would say 60-70% of kids will struggle to meet as they are very high.

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