Coinciding with National Primary Science Week comes a hard hitting ERO report on Science in the New Zealand Curriculum in Years 5-8.
I think ERO have really hit the nail on the head with this one. The Nature of Science is the "overarching and unifying" strand of NZ's science curriculum yet it often seems left alone, gathering dust in the corner. Meanwhile, the relentless crusade for children's self direction and so-called inquiry learning sweeps depth, substance and knowledge away. All in the name of student voice in learning.
Take a close look at some thinkers who I admire.
Bruce Hammonds blog posting on great science learning. Simple yet powerful.
Kath Murdoch on a very sound model of inquiry learning. A model we all aspire to.
Pam Hook on defining what is actually being learnt. Sorting what the real learning outcomes are.
Perry Rush - who doesn't have an e-thing I can link to (sort that out Pezza).
All of the people above understand that teachers actually teaching still has a place before, during and after student-lead inquiry.
Don't get me wrong. The importance of student direction and student voice in learning is proven, in multiple research sources, to be the key to really unlocking learning for kids.
This is best exemplified in Graham Nuthall and Adrienne Alton-Lees's work. Please do read The Hidden Lives of Learners. I go to back to my own personal influences from Dewey to Elwin-Richardson and see the importance of the child's own direction of their learning.
So, where has the rot set in? In two places.
1.The focus on the process of inquiry (and ICT which can support it) has over riden the content of the inquiry.
The clamor to have an inquiry model in schools all over New Zealand has lead many schools to drop the ball on the content inside of those inquiry models. The ERO science report has exposed this.
2.The domination of ICT experts in school curriculum design.
Sadly the Jim Ferguson (RIP) prophecy has become reality. Those that did not get on ICT PD contracts in round 1, 2 and 3 got on in rounds 4, 5 and 6 on beyond. The pedagogical rationale was not strong enough to get in. But when those with strong pedagogical rational had all had a crack the others had to be picked to have their turn.
A perverse gang of schools have emerged in the latter stages of the ICT PD programme where the school principals seem happy to let their ICT PD facilitator design their school curriculum.
Frankly, the ICT clique do not have a monopoly on knowing about deep and rich learning. Plotting more ways for children to iPad, skype, googlgedoc, cloud, BYOD, student blog, and LMS their learning will not lead to stronger learning outcomes. Sadly I see lots of Steve Jobs (selling ICT) and not much of Seymor Papert (understanding ICT) in the current ICT PD Facilitator hegemony.
School leaders and teachers who are not ICT strong need to take back the leadership of learning, not all learning goodness flows from someone who knows a lots about ICT. Stop letting them use their knowledge of ICT to drive all of the learning design in your schools. The time is long overdue.
The ERO Science Report has illustrated this.
Let the comment debate begin...