Andrew Dickens: Look to families for problems - not school system


Having pulled the housing issue apart over the past weeks my colleagues at NZME have now turned their attention to education.

The headlines all yesterday morning was that a quarter of our children starting secondary school are below the National Standards introduced by National in 2008.

This despite an investment of $250m extra by the Government to lift literacy and numeracy.

Cue Talkback. Teachers are all Marxists. NCEA is crap. Nobody rote learns any more. All anyone cares about is participation not success and winning. It's PC gone mad. Kids can't climb trees and it's all social engineering. Blah blah blah blah.

There's an awful lot of smoke and mirrors here.

Yes an extra quarter billion has been invested. But remember our population has swelled by 500,000 people in the last decade so that money was needed just to keep pace. When politicians say they're spending more on health and education remember that they have to because there are more of us.

They're playing politics. That's because they're politicians.

As an aside when was the last new hospital built in this country, which, by the way, is 20 per cent bigger than 10 years ago?

So the figure says we've flatlined. In other words the problems we have in education are exactly the same as the problems we've always had. We're no better or worse than we've ever been.

In 2008 John Key said National Standards will lift education. Who bought that? National Standards is only a measuring device. Nothing more. Not an advance in educational techniques.

In the end it's down it's still down to the teachers, the kids and their parents. You could say that National Standards is only successful in showing that we're no better now than before. And before is no better than now.

Opponents of National Standards said that teachers would now teach to the exams. Well if they did then the pass rate would rise. It didn't. Shame on those who thought that teachers would be that self-serving.

Now here's a thing. Both my kids have been in the system over the past 15 years. I've seen it working. There is a competitiveness that is palpable. The standards to get into tertiary education have only got higher and my kids are well aware of this and from Year 11 they know exactly what they need to achieve. All my kid's state schools have duxes and athletic champions. Participation is acknowledged but success is rewarded more. All my kids have had basic skills rote learning. There's a lot of PC crap going on here. It's right wing PC to say PC has taken over. The right is just as PC as the left.

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Of the 60,000 kids starting secondary school this year. 15,000 odd are below standard. I would say it's not the education systems fault but... wait for it.. the parents.

There's an inter-generational thing that says school sucks. It sucked for Mum and Dad and they tell their kids, often subconsciously that it sucks for them to. Plus there's a lot that's not their fault. Tough times. High rents. Moving house. The Housing crisis is hitting education. Stability is missing

The real truth is that the education system is just fine for working families with stable accommodation and aspirations. Like so many things in society today we need to motivate the people who feel they, and their kids, are on the outside.

Andrew Dickens is a Sunday morning Newstalk ZB broadcaster.

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