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This too shall pass

For some reason yesterday as I sat reading the various stories about these National Standards being announced - (they even shutdown the nzcurriculum website for a few hours to sort it all out!) - this small phrase came to mind.

"This too shall pass."

I couldn't recall if it was song or a story I'd read - so went searching for the wikipedia entry - and it made me smile.

"And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

Teachers will still strive to teach, students will still desire to learn, parents will still worry and we will still have those who underachieve.

National Standards are a political point - which National said they would implement during the election campaign. They will do nothing to make good teachers better, or improve the learning that is currently going on (or not going on) in a class room.

But National are doing what they'd said they would do. So fair play to them.

We have already have many various ways of measuring student achievement, and good schools are doing that measurement on a regular basis. Good schools are also sharing and celebrating that achievement with parents and students and local communities.

My current practice will not change - I will still strive to meet the needs of my students - all of them, as best I can. In the areas that interest them, in the areas that they need to focus on. I will still meet with parents, discuss with colleagues and continue to learn about ways to be the best teacher I can be.

I will fail, some of my students will not achieve, some days I won't enjoy the my job - but it will pass.

To Ms Tolley, who yesterday reported that parents were coming to her asking what "stanine 5" meant. I would suggest these parents meet with the schools of their child instead of running to politicians to discuss their child's report card. The education sector may not have done the best job of explaining the language of assessment - and we need to do that better, but parents who are passive in this process of learning, are as damaging to their child as the teachers who ignores the student in class.

The only real issue I have with yesterdays announcement is the new reporting standards/templates - which IMO are an insult to anyone with half a brain.

Reporting templates

They are a blunt and crude means of describing a student, which tells you something about where they are in relation to some artificial national standard - but nothing about them as a person.

Our young people can be measured by an ability to work with numbers or letters.

They can also be generous, helpful, kind, earnest, resilient, curious, constructive, appreciative, caring and hard-working. They have personalities and perceive the world in ways unknown to us as adults. They see problems and unfairness in clear and often precise ways. They are spiteful and nonchalant, abusive and passive. They reflect the communities they are brought up in and need to be challenged to step into the shoes of another.

As teachers we must continue to recognise and value that person, not just the one who memorizes their basic facts and can spell the 50 words in the test. Our duty of care must be to the whole child.

In the classroom and the communities around our young people - it's the whole person that matters. As Ken Robinson says - it's not just the top 2 inches that matter.

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