Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Three “Rs”

I’ve read a frightening article recently: 20 percent of New Zealand students are failing within the school system. And I believe the overseas figures are no better.

What makes our situation unique is that New Zealand doesn't have national standards for judging if primary students can read, write, or do maths (Reading, Riting, Rithmetic). If such standards were to be introduced, the experts argue, teachers would know what to aim for and parents would know what to expect of their children.

While I agree that a benchmark is needed, I’m concerned that it might, by establishing the lowest allowable level, somehow create the misimpression that the level is a “good enough” achievement. Our country can be so good at cutting down Tall Poppies! (For our overseas readers, Tall Poppies are high achievers who are sometimes encouraged by their peers to step down and settle for mediocrity.)

I’m further concerned that such a measure would add even more strain and stress and paperwork to our already overloaded teachers. Let’s face it: bureaucracy creates results that usually look good on paper but are often not practically beneficial, and it always but always creates more work and stress for the people involved.

Incidentally, if you’re a teacher who’s currently under stress due to work pressures, burnout or discipline issues, why not check out our Teaching Style Analysis (TSA) on It might - just might - make your year easier!


Lou Russell said...

National Standards can be a problem, especially "No Child Left Behind". In our state, the weakest schools with the most challenged students have the least ability to meet the standards and resort to 'teaching the test', creating very discouraged or narrow learners. These schools assume an Auditory learner, teaching the way they always have. It's very discouraging.

Lou Russell, Indiana

Yvonne Eve Walus said...

That does sound discouraging, but don't give up. Is there any way to convince the school principals or individual teachers to try out multi-sensory teaching methods? At the very least, perhaps parents could be convinced to assess their children's learning styles and help them do homework or extra tuition in their preferred way.