Can we talk about the elephant in the room?
Inequality between schools in New Zealand.
It’s horrendous. I’ve been to schools that are within 20 minutes of each other geographically, but may as well be on a different planet in terms of what they have in their schools, what they do in their schools, and the opportunities the students have in their day to day lives.
I have taught in low decile schools and now I teach in a higher decile school. This is not an attack at any of the schools I have worked at or visited. This is just an airing of my bewilderment for the differences in what our students (and they are OUR students; NZ students) are faced with.
Let me tell you a personal story. I became completely overwhelmed by a recent event where rewards were given out to students. It was the abundance and the extravagance that I couldn’t cope with. I had to leave for a time and I could not stop tears coming to my eyes. I couldn’t believe my reaction. These kids deserved acknowledgement for achievements. But I was shocked by the contrast between what I had seen in other schools. Schools where students have nothing at home. Where a ball you bring in (that I got for free at Bunnings) is coveted and borrowed many times.
We recently talked about the things that have the biggest influences on students’ learning, as outplayed by John Hattie is his Visible Learning book at a staff meeting. I couldn’t believe that Home Environment had one of the lower effect sizes on Students’ Learning – 0.52. I can’t understand.
I know that it isn’t all what’s going on at home by any means. I just can’t fathom that there is such a difference between schools. How is that possible? How is that fair? Most teachers are coming out of the same training institutes. How can they be that vastly different?
It isn’t fair. And the students suffer. Those in low deciles suffer the most, but eventually everyone suffers. We are doing a disservice to our students and it must be fixed. This can’t go on. The gap can’t continue to grow. We’ll never get across it soon.
I don’t believe I have the answers, I just wonder what more I/we can do.
How about more collaboration between schools? What about collaboration between communities? Experts in various industries and workplaces have an obligation to give back to our education system I think as well. We are all responsible for these new generations. They are all “our” kids. They are part of our global village and we must all take part in raising them.