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Being part of the process

It was my turn to speak to the Education & Science Select Committee today. They are currently holding an "Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy". Submissions for this closed back in May, so it's been a while since I wrote mine. When presenting to the committee, one gets about 15 minutes to talk and get questioned.  I wrote up these speaking notes to keep my talking brief.

The comments and questions from the MPs on the committee were positive and engaged. I really enjoyed being there.  While I don't know what impact my submission will make, it was in a small and personal way, empowering to be part of the bigger process.

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Good morning, and thank you for allowing me to talk to my submission.

Firstly, I’d just like to say, that by being a part of this parliamentary process I have learnt much. Some of my thinking came from connecting with Nikki at Kiwifoo in February. Writing my original submission was a shared process with other educators such as Mark Osborne, Tara Taylor-Jorgensen and Claire Amos. The face to face conversations that came from attending the inquiry at Nethui, and helping facilitate Ignition meetings with other Wellington based educators, as well as the leading and collaborating I’m doing in my own school are all ongoing spin offs of this process.

Learning is a process that involves making connections. As humans, as people, we make these connections on a daily basis. How we adjust to and manage these connections determine how and what we learn. I have watched my 3 year old learn to walk, talk, dance, sing, play and relate. She makes connections constantly. We adults like to be grown up and call these connections, pedagogy and curriculum and we wrap them up in delivery mechanisms called primary, secondary and tertiary education - but I believe the base human condition is a desire to make connections. To learn.

This inquiry and the terms of reference are about outcomes. Measurable outcomes. Outcomes that can be expensive and require major change and system shift. Outcomes that while they may be evident and obvious, may or may not deliver a related or relevant shift in learning process. Outcomes that are not a guarantee or predictor of any future success for those in the system.

In your role as members of this inquiry, and of this parliament you need to pay attention to outcomes, because you desire the best results from the resources that Crown provides. And this is fair.

In my role as a teacher, I also pay attention to the outcome. I say to my students, that my dream is simply, that they become better than me. Better thinkers, better creators, better communicators, better learners. Better humans - in any number of the ways that they can choose.

Now I can measure that dream in formal ways, with reports and with test scores, but my greatest challenge is to pay attention to that process that allows them to believe they can be better than me. To create learning experiences, to provoke their thinking, to provide fair feedback. On a daily and ongoing basis. In the classroom or outside it, using digital tools and analog methods.

As a society we need to balance the political need for measurable outcomes and achievements from the education system - with an honest appreciation of the value and importance of the learning process for individuals within that system. A learning process that will be varied and unique across the system. A learning process that will mean not all will succeed based on the measures that our system demands.

To have that conversation is a challenge. Because it is a wide-ranging conversation that goes far beyond the terms of reference. But it is a necessary challenge. Because that is a conversation about what it means to be valued and to be of value in our society.

Thank you for the opportunity to share in this conversation.

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