I think it's interesting that kids are now calling BS on what they learn in school.

The fact schools haven't kept pace with the modern world is not new, but it's good to hear students themselves formalising their views on this, in a forum where they may actually get heard.

School students at a Government-sponsored education summit are calling for schooling more relevant to their lives - not just academic learning.

The summit, attended by 750 people, is designed to kick off a "national conversation" about what sort of education system New Zealand needs over the next 30 years.


The main thrust of the student's argument is that current schools are designed for academic Pākehā students, not for more "hands-on" students, or for Māori, Pasifika and other diverse groups.

A Year 13 student made the point that the education system needs to be more proactive. Actually meeting the needs of students before they struggle their way through High School only to turn up as universities' problem.

Another student pointed out the system only works for a minority of students, it's not kept pace as we diversify.

Education is by and large a blunt instrument, a one size fits all approach to learning, which actually hasn't cut it for a long time.

One student made the salient point that there needs to be a stronger link between what students learn in school and what they will need in life.

"There is a bit of a disconnect," she said.

I imagine that's the understatement of the year. It reminds me of the famous meme, 'I can't believe it, another day's passed and I still didn't use Pythagoras theorem.'

High school is largely a lot of concepts that wash in and then right back out, of most kids' minds.


Learning how to learn is key yes, but so is learning life skills - ones that will be used every single day.

And that includes for all students, Pasifika, Māori, special needs, those with learning difficulties and challenges.

How we measure success needs looking at too. Exam results really only tell you which students are good at sitting exams.

Students who freak out in an exam situation are going to get a fail, but that's often not representative of their ability. Some students are better internally assessed, some are kinetic learners, some thrive with one end of year exam, some do well spreading them throughout the year. All the current assessments tell us is who fits the current system the best.

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft is charged with reporting this summit's views back to Government.

I'm sure he'll do a great job, but it's important for the sake of our kids that the messages don't just get heard, but acted on.