Teachers Council changes another bucket of muck being dumped on us


This is the big one and our organisations have given it away.  Here we have Hekia confined to her office and government policies under the gun, there has been the success over PaCT, and now, unbelievably, this capitulation; this failure of analysis and nerve – this acquiescence to another bureaucratic layer to smother schools with a bureaucrat’s idea of how classrooms should function and politician’s idea of how to screw schools to continue to underfund them and advance privatisation. And here we have the teacher organisations seemingly tying themselves in knots with rationalisations.

All that needs to be done is one of the organisations to say ‘NO’. To say to Peter Hughes: We accept that you have the power to place that bureaucratic layer on classrooms, but we can’t be forced to be part of an agency that is undemocratic, unrepresentative, and designed to put schools in a one-policy-fits-all straitjacket. We might comply but we won’t be complicit.

 When Tomorrow’s Schools came in there were two key ways public schools were undermined: teachers being excluded from participating collaboratively in policy formation on the basis that their inclusion would lead to professional capture; and the sinister, unaccountable actions of the education review office.

But I don’t really don’t want to go over all that again.

What astounds me is that the teacher organisations welcomed as insightful the recent information gained under the OIA (by the Greens I think)that Treasury had recommended using soft ways to introduce hard right policies – and here is machiavellian gold standard of that deviousness – and nothing from the teacher organisations.

There are thousands of other teachers and principals who want the holistic to be available as a legitimate choice in schools and feel betrayed and ferociously angry that it isn’t.

We are besmirched by the corrupted language of Parata and now Hughes, issuing from a corrupted system.

I look at the membership of Hekia and Hughes’ latest, this time the ‘eleven’. I look at a few of the members in particular, and ask: What are you doing there? Surely you realise that all this bureaucratic stuff, this slagging of teachers and public schools, is a way of deflecting attention away from where that attention should be: the provision of resources to actually help in the classroom. Surely you can understand that. The Council you are part of,is symbolic of this deflection. What you might be intending to do or say is of no account – the message is in the symbolism.

I am putting the final touches to the fourth booklet in the Primary School Diaries – a booklet that is something of a culmination to that which preceded and this is what I wrote to introduce the first writing:


This booklet in the Primary School Diaries series (as are all the booklets) is about the holistic.’

The holistic curriculum is about a combination of knowledges � teacher and academic; about the interaction of the affective and cognitive; about teaching and learning being organised by broad aims (assisted by criteria that can be considered converted objectives); about those broad aims being an expression of the essence of curriculum areas; about a broadly-based curriculum encompassing the wide range of human experience; about learning being meaningful, exploratory, and challenging (hence the attention to discovery learning and problem solving); about learning being open to the transformational and sensitive to the immanent; about learning being coherent and organic not fragmented and desultory; about teachers having considerably individuality of response within the broad school aims; about children having significant control over what and how they learn; about evaluation practices being proportionate to that which is educationally important (to the holistic); about all learning being quality learning; about attending to individual learning needs through a combination of class learning set up for individuality of response and  one-to-one teaching; about class and school practices (for instance, evaluation, and grouping for learning) being learning enhancing (hence the emphasis on observational evaluation and grouping for learning being mainly informal); and about protecting and enhancing the crucial bond and trust between the classroom teacher and child.’

‘Holistic curriculum-driven leadership is that which supports the holistic curriculum.’

‘There is an urgent need for a holistic curriculum-driven leadership theory to be developed and advanced to challenge the control-driven leadership theory. Holistic curriculum-driven leadership theory leads to a democratic participatory school and education system; control-driven leadership to an objective-driven curriculum, centralised, and directive school and education system.’

 There follows more in amplification, including the following:

‘Because the holistic is about valuing variety, about democratic, participatory relationships – the holistic means the freedom to be holistic not the requirement to be so.’

 And the rest of the booklet spells out the curriculum implications.

To the ignorant or careless of the primary school holistic philosophy, this probably reads as mumbo-jumbo. But this is the philosophy that has come through from the thirties in New Zealand to Beeby and the mythic and inspirational advisers and departmental people of the ’40s to 60s; that was expressed in classrooms throughout the country, especially in junior classrooms, and made tangible in In the Early World by Elwyn Richardson. This is the philosophy that has made primary schools renowned and would have continued to make them so if those in power positions had been willing to listen and understand. Instead our education past has been distorted, rewritten, and made forgotten by the churning propaganda machines of the agencies of state. One of the main reasons the provider capture concept has been so central to Tomorrow’s Schools was to ensure the exclusion from decision making of those who had not forgotten; who might inconveniently refer to another past, to the holistic, to that which had made our primary schools great.

As a result of all this, overweening power has transferred to fiercely narrow, self-serving politicians, careerist bureaucrats mainly with secondary backgrounds, and quantitative academics (read Hattie and his ilk) who conveniently produce bullshit research promising a grand tomorrow, research so base that you could drive a bus through the holes. And if you can’t find enough academics of this type, fly in some academic weirdoes from overseas.

We have had a campaign most foul of scapegoating and bullying of principals and teachers who have held to that most beautiful of education philosophies – the holistic.

Those in power now, those crude in education pronouncement, but sophisticated in power aggrandising are constructing an education world profoundly comfortable for themselves – reducing education to that which any jackass could understand as a means to control education for self-serving and ideological ends.

NZEI and NZPF, by your inaction, you are betraying our education heritage and the professional aspirations of some our very best principals and teachers, also denying some of the very best of what the curriculum can offer to so many New Zealand children.

The process since 1989 repeats and, in this respect, you are doing nothing.

To some of you on the ‘Government’ Council: What are you doing there? Where is true representation? Where is just plain decency?

Have you gone completely mad by being there?

To some of you will be sent Booklet 4 on the holistic curriculum: this could have been.

I look at the November 20 newsletter sent out in Hekia’s name and am repulsed by it; another toxic bucket of muck lifted from what seems an inexhaustible fetid ministry supply and dumped on us.

Say yes to ‘NO’.

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