Why do we create a system where external assessment is actually unnecessary, then lament its loss and go looking for alternatives? Is this parental expectation, and some sort of high-stakes status contest, masquerading as “accountability”? What is wrong with us that makes us think that if young people are successful at something, particularly if they are brown, we should get worried about the task’s rigour and its credibility? Don’t we actually want more of our children to achieve, or are we OK with this only being some of our children?
And, right there, on the Herald’s Facebook page, the fork in the up-until-now positive pathway appeared. Down one path, were those who were in total agreement with the students’ findings, congratulating them on their courage and honesty.
Down the other path the racist trolls came out to play, taking their usual route, happy to denigrate young people, condescendingly confident in their absolute ignorance of the issue, and their “Whiteousness” (my word for the “White is right” brigade) regardless of the facts, the significant research, or the truth.
The battle lines were drawn.
This work could not be more timely given the overwhelming evidence of racism in our education system, with recent reports showing that New Zealand has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. UNICEF’s annual Innocenti Report Card, a study of rich countries, ranked New Zealand 33rd out of 38 countries in terms of educational equality.
I was recently invited to speak at the Education Summits in Christchurch and Auckland, as part of the Government's review of education, and was asked by several attendees, and the facilitators, if I could share my presentation. Here it is, verbatim, with links to the student video clips and other source material.
At a recent keynote at Waihi College, to a full assembly hall, I was honoured to be introduced by Mikaira Wells, the Head Girl of the college and one of the impressive students I had met with during the day. With Mikaira's permission, I want to share her speech because I think it clearly articulates what students know, and what we often don't hear.
After the release of the report, Education matters to me: Key insights, the issue of racism in schools was all over the news last week. Media headlines read: “Study finds ‘disturbing’ racism in NZ schools” (Newshub), “Students tell of racism in study of how they view the education system,” (Stuff) and “Māori, Pasifika kids reveal racism in schools,” (RadioNZ). Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says that the children’s comments about the racism they encounter in schools were unsolicited, and were a surprise to interviewers.
In January, I was privileged to help organise the second visit to New Zealand by distinguished Californian Professor Pedro Noguera and his family, who spent time engaging with Te Tapuae o Rehua and Ngai Tahu, then came to Auckland, where Pedro and I spoke to the national Team Solutions PLD Hui at Auckland University’s Waipapa Marae.
Are you still trying to fathom out what those important, but often avoided, words in Ka Hikitia, "success and achievement as Māori", actually mean? I asked Māori and Pasifika students to provide some more insight.
Congratulations Labour and our new coalition government! Finally, some hope for an end, or a complete relook, to the neoliberal agenda that has crippled education in New Zealand and continued to marginalise our Māori and Pasifika learners. Words are cheap. So LET'S SEE THIS …
My thanks to CORE Edtalks for their expert editing and speedy publication of my Keynote presentation at uLearn17. It's always hard watching yourself - so I'm trying not to - but I hope the video helps get the messages about our schools' "White Spaces" out there and helps us "get off the fence" to take action for change. Contact me to talk further about this work.
How very cool is this! My thanks to Mary Brake at Reflection Graphics for the very clever interpretation of my uLearn17 Keynote - drawn live during the presentation! I love the fence! Is that pointy finger mine? I'm amazed at how much Mary has captured! Also check out the comprehensive live blog written by Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu. Thank you Manu! I consider myself very lucky to have you both interpreting this important message!
At uLearn17 this week, I was a panel member in a discussion about “Learning in Communities,” which quickly morphed into “Communities of Learning” and I felt I had to state my opposition up front.
Fascinating international discussion this morning as part of a panel at the "centre table" in Teach for All's Global Learning Lab Virtual Roundtable event - "Growing Students as Leaders of a Better Future." What are the most important education outcomes for our youth... Content Skills and Knowledge, Mindsets and Dispositions, Life and Professional Skills, or Values and Purpose?
That was a struggle for me! Which category do culture and cultural identity fit into? Are they skills and knowledge, or a mindset, or what we need for life, or are they about values, or should the development of a secure cultural identity be a major purpose of our education system? I would say YES to all those questions, but my biggest question is why do we have to "find" a place in our existing monocultural, mostly White, frameworks for culture, cultural norms, and cultural identity? Why aren't they explicit and not left to chance? While there were areas where we panel "experts" found agreement, there were plenty of places where we disagreed, and I was left hoping that this won't be more of the same, where we raise the issues, then file them in the too hard basket!
Thanks Teach for All for the invitation and the opportunity to participate. Today's roundtable was about which outcomes. Tomorrow, (Thurs 20 July in NZ) I'm at the table again, with a different panel, this time discussing how we get to those outcomes. Join in - 8.00-10.00am (NZ time) via Zoom - join the meeting with this link https://teachforall.zoom.us/j/975545305 and jump in to the Chat as we go! Some tautoko would be great!
Also, check out the Resource Exchange on the Virtual Roundtable link above, for some great videos and resources to use in your classes and schools.
Two years ago, international film maker, Faolan Jones, came to visit Kia Aroha College to produce a video about the school. Everyone is delighted with the result, which we are now able to show widely. Faolan has captured the work of the school, and in particular, the voice of students, former students, and staff in a way that has not been done before! It's a wide-reaching, insightful documentary that I promise, is well worth the watch! Thank you Faolan from the Kia Aroha College whānau!
Click HERE to view the film.
Click HERE to view the film and read Faolan's blog post about it.
I was privileged to speak at The MOKO Foundation's Leadership Summit at Waitangi in the weekend, and to attend the dinner the previous evening to launch the 2017 Hawea Vercoe Leadership Programme. The young people who are the 2017 recipients of these scholarships, that partner them with amazing mentors, were impressive - as were the citations of their achievements already, and their aspirations! I was even more inspired however, by their probing questions of those of us who spoke at the Summit the next day! They certainly kept us on our toes, as they should.
Congratulations to The MOKO Foundation and everyone involved - the mentees, the mentors, the MOKO team, particularly Dr Lance O'Sullivan and CEO, Deirdre Otene. I was inspired!
Two new education initiatives have hit our Inboxes this week.
On Wednesday, the Education Minister announced a major change to shift education into a "digitally oriented system," advising that the Government will spend $40 million on raising teachers' skills to deliver the new curriculum, which will involve all pupils from years one to 10 taking part in digital technologies education. I think that was news to most teachers and principals!
Yesterday, we received notice from the Education Council of the final version of the new Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession to be implemented by 1 January 2018. The title, “Our Code Our Standards” implies a collective ownership, and Educanz talks of “more than a year of consultation with people from across the profession.” Let’s not forget however, that the Council is made up of members appointed exclusively by the Government, and not elected democratically by teachers, so “our” anything is a moot point!
When someone attacks a member of your family, all your protective instincts kick in and you want to do anything in your power to take the hurt away. So it was on Wednesday when I received an email from my moko, telling me of the racist comments heard on her voicemail. You can see the full story which aired on TVNZ’s Marae programme, where my moko, Blake, is a production manager, this morning - here
The truth is, racism causes a deep, deep, generational pain that just cannot be erased, no matter how much you want to try to take it away. It was racism when my children encountered this same behaviour in school and in their workplaces, it is still racism two generations later when my grandchildren are forced to deal with it, as Blake has done this week, and it will still be racism when my great moko are confronted with it unless Pākehā New Zealand take responsibility for our actions.
On a wet and windy day I am off to the Kāpiti Coast to talk to three schools - Kapiti College staff tomorrow morning, and Te Ra Waldorf and Raphael House schools tomorrow evening - different schools, different philosophies, but all prepared to think differently about examining their practice to be more effective for Māori learners. Looking forward to the conversations!