Pigeonhole

Welcome to the blog of the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA), .... A blog that's not afraid to ruffle some feathers.

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I don't think I'm the only one who shuddered when Parata posted her holiday snaps recently on twitter and one showed her grinning next to the gormless Michael Gove.

Gove's educational revolution in the UK is such monstrous disaster that it makes Novopay, charter schools and national standards look like the work of bombastic Mussolini compared to his National Socialist comrade north of the Alps.

The prospect of her coming back inspired by that meeting was enough for crisis calls around the red-flag adorned staffrooms of the nation on the secret PPTA hotline (not really).

But it turns out she doesn't seem to have taken that much from it after all. You see, Gove is someone who likes to be in charge of what kids learn. And he likes them learning facts, as shown by this list published in the Telegraph:

·In English, pupils will be expected to spell a list of almost 240 advanced words by the end of primary school, master grammar and punctuation and read more novels, poems and plays in full, including Shakespeare;

·Science lessons will introduce pupils to evolution at primary school for the first time, increase the amount of practical and maths-based work and scrap "vague", non-scientific topics such as caring for animals and societal context;

·History will be based on a clear chronology of Britain from the Stone Age to 1066 in primary school, with lessons focusing on the Norman Conquest to present day in secondary education;

But, (sigh of relief around outposts of socialist feminism, aka public schools) Parata's not going down this path at all. In fact, she's going down quite a different one, and one that may well be just as worrying.  See, for example, this story on Waatea News: Education Minister Hekia Parata says teaching creationism is on par with teaching about Maori creation myths.

You see, there's a fine balance in curriculum design between the laissez faire, anything goes approach and Gove's miniscule prescription. And in the case of creationism, Parata's taking the anything goes approach too far.

Promoters of creationism and "˜Intelligent Design' (like this) do not see it on the same level as myth and legend. In fact, quite the opposite. They see it on the same level as science "“ it's a literal, true explanation, not allegorical or metaphorical at all.

There are plenty of Christians (and followers of other religions) who don't see their creation narratives in this way, plenty of scientists and science teachers too. If the creation story stays in the realm of myth there's no conflict with evolution.<p">Now, we don't know whether the people running charter schools are actually promoting creationism as a scientific theory or whether they're just going to be teaching "˜the Bible Story' as the mythical, allegorical tale (with its own cultural importance) that many people accept it to be.

But that's the trouble. We don't know, and can't know, because they'll be hidden away in charter schools. And Parata seems not to care.  This charter school thing has brought out the woolly relativists and post-modernists that I certainly didn't know were lurking in the National Party. It reminds me of that classic teacher saying "Keep an open mind ... but not so open that your brain falls out."

 

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