I will miss being part of the Waimairi community for most of next week. Late last year I was surprised and honoured to be asked by Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools in Parramatta, Sydney, to run a masterclass programme for the principals in the schools in the schooling system he controls.
In the Bulletin Magazine Smart 100 List Greg was named as the "nation’s smartest, most innovative and creative person working in education in Australia today." So I felt unprepared (and under-dressed) for his call on my cellphone, taken while I was tending the fire for the Year 3/4 camp hangi on our back field.
One other NZ principal is also running workshops at the masterclass and this has got me thinking about why a section of the Australian education system would want to hear what we have to say?
I think the answer is the skills, attitude and commitment of kiwi teachers. And the world-beating national curriculum we work with. Any principal in the world can espouse a desire for a school to be a learning community where teachers and children work, focussed on learning enduring, life-long skills to propelling the nation forward. Only NZ has a National Curriculum that requires if, rather than inviting it.
Breaking this down to a local level Waimairi School is full of teachers who understand the above and are committed to doing it. It all clicked into place in my mind tonight at a meeting of our junior class teachers (yes Friday night and they are still getting together to think about how to improve learning for our kids). The general theme of the meeting was 'how can we do better?' Not get better at technocratic learning intentions and the like, but get better at holistic education. What a winning attitude!
So, while representing NZ in Australia next week I will be saying that we have a long and proud tradition of excellence in education in NZ, and this is certainly illustrated at Waimairi School.
Kiwi teachers, be proud of our NZ National Curriculum. Waimairi teachers, I am proud to be showcasing what you do. Waimairi parents and children, take the time to appreciate your teachers and the fact that overseas educators want to hear about what they do in our classrooms every day.