Thursday, 23 July 2015

Learning about and reflections on education

I could have stayed up here in the Far North. Ahipara - with Shipwreck Bay on its most southerly end - is the end of Ninety-Mile Beach, on which you can drive almost all the way up to Cape Reinga. There is a sense of vastness here...vistas which remind of Kenya, a friendliness and sense of community. At church, one lady, a camper van owner herself, offered us a place to park and plug in ; another insisted on giving me homegrown lemons; strangers talked.

Before we left, I was able to visit a school.

Allan and Sue, Andy's parents, both teach at Kaitaia Abundant Life School, which they had started many years previously. I was privileged to have a quick visit: I almost felt as if I was back in Kenya when I saw the long verandahs on every building and the children running around barefoot.

I was impressed. The New Zealand curriculum encourages independence:
Key Competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum:
Using language, symbols and text
Managing self
Relating to others
Participating and contributing
Having an enterprising culture

There were displays and encouragement in every classroom to encourage independent learning. Junior teachers created a 'to do' list for the children of the tasks they needed to complete during the week, ranging from independent through to guided by the teacher. I particularly liked the 'make a playdough model to show what you have learned...'

The curriculum vision is brilliant and seems, at first glance, very different from a subject-led programme of study...wanting young people to be creative, energetic and inspiring...
Positive in their own identity
Motivated and reliable
Enterprising and entrepreneurial
Able to relate well to others
Effective users of communication tools
Connected to the land and environment
Members of communities
International citizens
Actively involved
Participants in a range of life contexts
Contributors to the well-being of New Zealand – social, cultural, economic, and environmental
Lifelong learners
Literate and numerate
Critical and creative thinkers
Active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge
Informed decision makers.

Not very much about all our subjects there....

Abundant Life is a Christian school whose vision statement is "To be a dynamic Christian school which produces outstanding Godly young people who will have a lasting positive impact on our community, the country and the nation".  Each subject is still taught from a biblical perspective and Christian values are holistically woven right throughout the fabric of the teaching and  programmes.
The key aspects are:
Developing a knowledge of God: His nature and character.
High expectations of student achievement and behaviour including attitude, work ethic, tidy appearance, homework completion and Godly conduct.
Emphasis on every student achieving to the best they are capable of.
Catering for individual learning styles including Special Needs and Gifted & Talented Programmes.

Surely a secular school, whether mainstream or independent, would benefit from putting PSHE at the centre of its curriculum...

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