Well – yesterday was the big day, the release of the new NZ Curriculum, so with bated breath I watched the news last evening, and ran to get a paper this morning, to see what sort of coverage was given to this significant event in the NZ education system.
To my dismay I found very little. The TV news ran an item on “Teaching Values”, with interviews with a few parents lamenting that there are so many parents who don’t instill values in their children that schools might as well do it, while in the Christchurch Press (my local paper) I found a re-hash of the MoE press release inserted at the top of page two (the part of the paper most rarely looked at) that bears the headline “Children Must Study Treaty” – as if that’s the most significant thing about the release of this new curriculum? I even went onto the Press website, but that article doesn’t deserve a mention – not even when I used the search facility.
And why is the Ministry of Education so quiet about this – their website has a rather uninspiring news item with links to the Curriculum Online website (the Ministry of Education official website for the New Zealand Curriculum) and
a link for parents to the TeamUp website for advice on how parents can support their child’s learning. Where is the celebration of the fact that this has been such a collaborative and participatory effort? Where is the news about what support, PD and ongoing participatory opportunities that are to be offered?
Seems to me that the media have been so busy looking for a “spin” to put onto this event, that they’ve missed the real story here – the story about a two and a half year process involving many thousands of teachers (reportedly around 15,000) in the process of conceptualising and co-constructing the new curriculum, based around the key competencies identified by the OECD as being essential for preparing citizens for the 21st century. The document released yesterday is the result of thousands of hours of thinking, discussion, collaboration, research and writing on the part of these hundreds of educators.
Not that the story stops there – the curriculum must now be interpreted and managed within the context of the 2500+ schools in NZ, and this will take a considerable amount of effort, support and trialing etc – a point raised by Irene Cooper, President of the NZEI in the Press release. She says, “Putting in place a review of their whole school curriculum is a major piece of work and it cannot be done by osmosis.”
A part of the process for moving forward is the Share and Discuss forum that has been created for teachers and educators to participate in an ongoing discussion and sharing of ideas around the implementation of the new curriculum. The Curriculum Online site is another place for valuable background information and material to support with implementation. On this site the Ministry curriculum facilitators have set up groups nationally to help develop support materials for the implementation process in each of the learning areas – these can be found as links from the Learning Areas page.
Unfortunately, none of the releases I’ve seen so far make any mention of this. Even more concerning – when I did a Google search for the NZ Curriculum this morning, the top links took me to the old curriculum information on both TKI and the MoE website (last updated 7 June 2007).
Surely this event deserves better coverage – must we always be looking for the “dark side” of things? My hope is that we’ll see lots of feedback and activity in the online forums, and in the general blogosphere over the next few months. If you do know of things that are happening, or have some good news stories to tell about the curriculum implementation, make sure you share them in these forums!