On the 5th of July 2016, the then Education Minister, Heika Parata announced that “Digital technology is to be formally integrated into the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa”. This was a very exciting announcement for many educators as it signalled a shift in the government’s thinking, formally encouraging the education sector to become more future focussed – an approach that many educators had already recognised was needed and had started to adopt.
Fast forward to July 2017 and over the last two days I have seen the Minister of Education, Nikki Kaye on two prominent weekend morning current affairs shows explaining the planned changes to the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
New Zealand is a digital nation. Digital technologies are transforming how we live – shaping our homes and our workplaces, and changing the way that we interact with each other and live our everyday lives. Our education system needs to change how we prepare our children and young people to participate, create and thrive in this fast-evolving digital world. As Heika Parata stated in 2016, “The information technology sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in New Zealand, with a demand for skilled graduates. This step will support young people to develop skills, confidence and interest in digital technologies and lead them to opportunities across the diverse and growing IT sector. We look forward to continuing to work with the IT sector to ensure we have a future-focused, world-leading education system.”
I understand the concerns some people have around the unknown effects of our children spending more time in front of a screen. However recently I attended a seminar with Tim Bell, a professor in Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Canterbury and he walked us through a range of exercises that taught computational thinking which required no screens.
Too often we hear from commentators in the media, and sadly from inside education, who haven’t read widely enough about the new curriculum and complain because it suits their political ideology. What we need is a more positive approach towards education in New Zealand where new changes in direction are judged on their merits rather than on which political party are advancing them.
One of the purposes of the new curriculum is to position New Zealand in a space where our students, the leaders of tomorrow, are in a space where they are the producers of technology rather than the consumers. As we continue towards this goal, the Digital Technologies curriculum will help transform a nation of curious minds in to a nation of creators and entrepreneurs. This is a future I can certainly look forward to!
I shared this video about the Learning Pit with my team last week as the professional development part of our meeting as I was very impressed with the positive responses from the teachers. I absolutely love the concept and want to promote it further within our team and the wider school.
The video generated a great deal of discussion and as a result, I am wanting to have a look at how we could implement this question everything type approach in to our final two ‘theme’ units.
Today I was thinking about the various principals I have worked with over the years and the diverse range of principles or philosophies that they hold about school leadership. A couple of questions struck me. Hopefully all the principals I have worked with want their students to achieve and be as successful as possible, but how can the approaches to leadership vary so greatly? Which leadership style is most conducive to student progress?
I guess the principals I have worked with in the past fall roughly in to one of two categories: Transformational Leaders and Instructional Leaders. As I pondered on the different approaches to leadership I received an email from Educational Leadership. See here if you would like to subscribe to the magazine (it is really worthwhile!). The article entitled Impact Leadership makes for very interesting reading. If you are too busy to read the whole article I will give you a brief synopsis of the article which I hope will entice you to read the entire article.
Impact Leadership is written by John Hattie and discusses the findings of a study carried out by Robinson, Lloyd, Rowe (2008). In the research Robinson et al. (2008) define the two types of leadership, Transformational and Instructional. They found transformational leaders set a vision, create common goals for a school, inspire and set direction, buffer staff from external demands, ensure fair and equitable staffing and give teachers a high degree of autonomy. Basically, these leaders focus more on teachers.
In contrast, instructional leaders focus more on students. They are concerned with the teachers’ and school’s impact on student learning and instructional issues, conducting classroom observations, ensuring professional development that enhances student learning, communicating high academic standards and ensuring that all school environments are conducive to learning.
Interestingly enough, more than 80% of leaders claim to be transformational leaders (Marks, 2013). Here’s the crunch, Robinson et al. (2008) discovered that the overall effect from transformational leaders was .11 compared with the overall effect from instructional leaders being .42. That is a huge difference! The key to the huge difference is leaders who see their key role as evaluating their impact and getting everyone in the school working together to know and evaluate their impact. There are a great deal of other approaches that have been proven to be highly effective. If you want to find out what these approaches are you should check out this page.
The take away point: “Effective instructional leaders don’t just focus on student learning. They relentlessly search out and interrogate evidence of that learning” John Hattie.
Robots to take over. The New Zealand Herald recently ran a headline that wouldn’t be out of place in a bad Sci-fi movie. The headline did; however, remind me of a presentation I once heard about the different jobs that experts predict will be automated in the future.
Mark Osborne presented at the L@S Roadshow in Palmerston North about jobs that are likely to be automated in the future. The below graph makes for interesting reading.
With this idea in mind, I believe it is long over due that schools begin to challenge the traditional paradigm that many have been following. We need to equip our students for a future of change. The key to student’s success in the future will be around their EQ Emotional Intelligence – things that robots and automated programmes can’t do. Along with this students will also need to be able to apply, analyse, evaluate, create and collaborate on a level where machines cannot. As students change how they learn, we, as educators, mustn’t be afraid to change the way we teach.
As I was preparing for a Professional Development session I came across this interesting diagram. I think it sums up brilliantly the processes that need to be considered if changes are to be made.I also think that we need to constantly remind ourselves of the following quote from Frederick Douglass – “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”