More dumbing-down of the curriculum

If you thought children these days weren’t taught to the standard they used to be, look out. The new curriculum will dumb down classes even further, and could see studying Shakespeare dropped in some schools in favour of studying blogs. Much as we all like blogs, I’m sure we can agree that there is a lot more to be learnt about the English language from studying Shakespeare than studying the English you often confront in the blogosphere… Furthermore there is a lot more scope to choose blogs that reflect the political or moral views of the teacher and subtly indoctrinate the children, we had enough of that when I was at school through the selection of heavily feminist literature to study, this just opens the door even wider for abuse.

This erosion of the standards of English is strongly reminiscent of Orwell’s “Newspeak” (from his book “1984”), where the language was being dumbed down heavily, a bit like text language, in an effort to suppress free thought in the population. For example, instead of the words “good”, “excellent”, “great”, “bad”, “poor” etc, you had “good” and “ungood”. This limited vocabulary made it more difficult for people to express dissent. Although I doubt there is any blatant plot to do the same here, and Orwell’s example is obviously extreme, the effect is still concerning. Shakespeare expands the vocabulary in a way that blogs are unlikely to.

This is why we need to encourage private schooling and home schooling, rather than allowing the State to indoctrinate our children.

Hat tip: NZ Conservative

Labours crazy education policy

Following on from their proposal to stop early school leaver exemptions, and Chris Carter’s insulting and derogatary comments about “low-skilled” workers, Labour is out with a new bit of nuttiness. After enforcing the school leaving age as 16 with no exceptions, they will then raise the “education and training age” to 18. So you can’t go to work before the age of 18.

This is crazy. I finished 7th form at the age of 17 1/2, so I couldn’t have left school and gone to work for another 6 months? It would have been ok for me as I went straight to uni, so was still in “training”, but if I had wanted to take a “gap” year or just start work I wouldn’t have been allowed, even though I had completed high school.

Furthermore, what if I was sick of school by 15 (as plenty of people are) and wanted to work, what could I do? I wouldn’t just have to wait until 16, I would now have to wait until 18 before I could go and work.

And where do they expect all these well-qualified people to work? Someone has to stock the supermarket shelves, will you have to study supermarket-shelf-stocking until you are 18 before being allowed to?

Do Labour want more disgruntled, unemployed youths roaming the streets and creating chaos? Because they’re certainly going the right way about it.

Hat tip: No Minister

School funding and zoning

There was an interesting segment on CloseUp tonight about school boundary changes and funding. Basically the Ministry of Education has changed the boundary between two rural schools (Beckensfield and Carrington I think, could be misspelling them). This means the Beckensfield bus is no longer allowed to travel to pick up seven students who currently attend Beckensfield school. These students are now in the Carrington zone, and can either get the Carrington bus at the gate or be driven to a pick-up point to get on the Beckensfield bus. Carrington school could give Beckensfield permission to drive into their zone, but will not, for one very simple reason – funding.

Currently Carrington school have 27 pupils. If this drops to 25, they are only given funding for 1 teacher. If it is 26 or above, they get 2.5 teachers. So, understandably, they are grabbing any students they can get.

This is a complicated bureaucratic situation. Why is there such a massive change in funding between 25 and 26 pupils? It is ridiculous.

The Family Party supports funding following the child. This means each school gets a set amount of funding per pupil. If a pupil moves from Beckensfield to Carrington or vice-versa, their proportion of the funding moves with them. This is a much simpler system.

With funding following the child, there would be no massive change in funding between 25 and 26 pupils, rather funding would gradually change with pupil numbers. If the board of a 20 – 25 student school could work the finances to get 2 teachers, they could do that. Or they could hire one. They wouldn’t be stuck with fixed Ministry of Education solutions. So there would be no need for the current zoning dispute, which seems to be driven by the current funding arrangements.

I went to Glenroy primary school when I was young, a rural, one-teacher school that ranged between having 9 and 16 pupils while I was there. It was an excellent school, and served the community well. But the Ministry shut it down a few years ago because they were cost-cutting and decided it was too small. Well, technically they didn’t shut it down, they blackmailed the board into shutting it down so it wouldn’t appear on the books that they had forced it to close – they said if the board shut it they could keep all their savings from fundraising and send them to the next school the pupils went to, if the Ministry shut it they would get nothing (or some such arrangement). So the board closed the school under protest and blew most of the savings on a trip to Wellington for all the students!

This school served the community for 108 years, it was part of our heritage for generations, and with funding following the child it could still be there today. This is because the school would have received some funding however small it was, and the board could work out what to do with it and fundraise for any extra that may have been needed. There would have been no need for the Ministry to shut it down, as it would have cost them the same per pupil whether they were attending the small school or a larger school.

Labour would axe school leaver exemptions

Labour’s Education Amendment Bill, introduced on Tuesday, would stop all school leaver exemptions for teens under the age of 16. This is completely ridiculous.

If a teenager is not interested in school, by the time they are 15, there is no point in keeping them there. They are perfectly capable of working – in fact, having people still in school at the age of 15 is only a recent phenomenon, throughout most of history and in most poor countries they would already be working at that age. If you force a teenager who is not interested in school to stay there, they will just get into trouble, disrupt everyone else’s learning, and not learn anything themself. They may play truant, and fill in their boring days with vandalism and petty crime, which could for some become the start of a long criminal career.

“The problem has been that teenagers leave school at 15 and become unemployed and end up on the street or go into a low-skilled job and remain there for life,” he said.

In saying this Mr Carter shows terrible disrespect for ordinary people in “low-skilled” jobs. Mr Carter relies on these people performing “low-skilled” jobs each day. Someone has to do this work. Who does Mr Carter want to shift the items he relies on in warehouses, transport his goods in trucks, sell him food at the supermarket, fill his car with fuel, milk cows – all those jobs that you can go straight into after leaving school at 15? Does he expect people to gain higher qualifications then go and do these jobs while trying to pay off a student loan? Or does he expect every NZ student to get a high paid “knowledge economy” job and us bring in lots of foreign immigrants to do the real work?

It is far better for a teenager to be in a job that they enjoy, and earning money, than to be stuck in a boring classroom. In the final two years of school, you don’t really learn anything of much use in general life. What you learn is primarily aimed at preparing you for university or polytech. If you are going to leave school and go straight into work, you may as well leave as early as possible and not waste time on the last year or two of school.

In proposing this, Labour seem to be a bunch of academics that are completely out of touch with the real world.

Hat Tip: Homepaddock