Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

04 February 2010

Education Standards

Any hint of vulnerability on the part of a politician attracts the media, the opposition and parties with vested interests in a feeding frenzy. In the case of Anne Tolley and her programme for educational standards it seems the vocal feeders want to tear her apart; so much so that the prime minister, John Key, has been drawn in to support her.

I hope she and he stick to their guns. It is absolutely vital that children's progress be measured against ranges of norms. How else is it possible to give them guidance and extra tuition in the areas where they might fall short?

One small thing bothers me, though. It is possible that blame for shortfall might be laid at the feet of teachers. We should never forget that no matter how much the state intervenes in children's welfare - educational or otherwise - it is parents who are the first teachers.

I know a young woman who is head of the senior classes of a primary school. Her aim is to teach her charges to the very best of her ability and to ready them for secondary education. But despite her best efforts, she tells me, up to 20% of her pupils will fall short principally because they receive no proper support from home. I imagine that those children are the ones who are sent off to school without any breakfast.

By all means let us have standards but let us remember that the state can never, neither should it, ever supersede parental authority; and let it be clear to all parents that they are ultimately responsible for their children.

© DON DONOVAN

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Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan