We are in a
change process. There are sweeping
education reforms in the pipeline and as a country, as educators, as education
service providers, as parents, as children, and as citizens we are being asked
to have a say.
It’s been a
busy start to the year with Education Conversations, Education Summits,
surveys, and work programmes. The
government is working to progress a revised (ECE) Early Learning Strategic
Plan, revise Tomorrow’s Schools, and is exploring – finally - an Education
Workforce Strategy. The focus is: what do these areas need to look like
So, what sort
of education system will we have in 17 years? Will we have
teachers? What sort of teachers will we have? What will their skillset
look like compared to today? And what about all the non-teachers working
in ECE or in schools? Will they have qualifications of some sort, as
Playcentre parents do? What are our expectations here? And what of
the role of government? It is doubtful that government’s role will
diminish over time from the highly-regulated approach taken today, but we
continue to see education (and ECE particularly) as a constant political
football lurching from one flavour of policies to another.
about this debate. Worried because the Greenfields thinking we need to
answer these and other questions doesn’t appear to have started yet. I’m
also worried that without strong sector engagement in this debate, we will end
up with a future focus limited to fixing what we know rather than preparing us
for whatever challenges the future may bring.
article by University College London Professor, Rose Luckin, (10 June 2018)
Eductech 2018: AI will never replace teachers, expert says, EducationHQ, tries to reassure
teachers that there will always be a role for the teacher in a more advanced AI
(Artificial Intelligence) world. Professor Luckin may be right. But
what sort of teacher or educator will that be? The role of a teacher in a
future technology world is likely to be different from today, with different
responsibility levels and different expertise.
in the ECE Strategic Plan Reference Group the other day included concern that
teachers are currently suffering from scope creep. That is, a growing
breadth of skill expectation. The example offered was the need for
teachers to be better skilled at identifying learning challenges. I’m
assuming that this scope creep will stop short of diagnosing clinical learning
disorders, but where do we draw the line?
like this has been a feature of the health system for some years now, with
nurse’s roles in hospitals increasingly becoming more and more specialist, with
care assistants picking up the majority of the manual labour work. How
does this picture play out in education, or specifically ECE?
The previous National-led
government introduced an initiative called communities of online learning – or
COOL for short. This was roundly rubbished by the teachers’ unions, as
they fear the advance of online learning will displace teachers and lower the
standard of learning by bringing learners closer to their screens. Part
of the appeal of COOL was that it would enable shared learning opportunities
where teaching resources were scarce, such as in the area of Te Reo. COOL
has been dropped by the incoming Labour-led government. But I wonder should
it be dropped?
learning opportunities are clearly inevitable as we look to the future.
Isn’t the challenge for us to plan and define how online learning should
work in our education system so as to preserve and build on quality and good
learning outcomes? I hope we are not missing an opportunity here.
of this online debate is the possibility or likelihood that online programmes
for children’s learning may emerge and could displace our existing teacher-led
options. They exist now. Jackie Mader’s article (3 November 2017)
Online Preschool: Does it work? The
Hechinger Report, focuses on an online ECE model in the United States.
is whether this approach works and whether it misses too much of what we would
regard as driving quality in the learning experiences of the children. Do
we have a right to stand in the way of options such as this, given parent
choice is a fundamental aspect of what makes New Zealand ECE what it is?
Whether we like it or not, online learning options for our student teachers,
and for our children, exist now and are not going away.
As a marketer
(by background), I constantly remind myself - and those around me - that our
responsibility is to make our choices and decisions about “them” and not about “us”.
“Them” in this context are the children enrolled in our services today and into
the future. This means we sometimes have to make choices that we,
personally, may be challenged by but that can be justified as in the best
interests of those we serve.
In 2016, the
ECC’s annual conference featured Rohit Talwar, Global Futurist and Founder of
Fast Future Research, who spoke about the future of education and
educationalists, and the challenges we face to get from now to then. Examples
of Rohit’s work can challenge people, such as this You Tube presentation:
Humans and Technology in Collaboration filmed at a PWC 2016 work conference: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhbSE4BaMck
example is Sue Suckling the Independent Director and Future Strategist and
Chair of the NZ Qualifications Authority, presenting on The Future of Education
(February 2017): www.youtube.com/watch?v=56FwkZ7olak
of a variation on an old adage: If you stick your head in the sand and open
your eyes, you’ll see sand. If you pull your head out of the sand and
open your eyes, you might just see the horizon!
I am hopeful that the way we are looking to the future for our education
system and for our children and society will have us all looking to the horizon
without sand in our eyes.
We have a
significant opportunity to make our education system future proofed, and I do
hope the discussions, surveys, reviews and working groups, deliver drafts for
consultation that we can hold high and show what a progressive country New
For ECE, the
ECC will be participating in all discussions and attending working groups and
meetings. We will be encouraging our
sector members to have their say on the discussions, surveys and reviews. And, even though we don’t have a crystal ball
to gaze 17 years into the future, we hope that the voices and inputs of many
will deliver an education system to meet today’s needs and those of 2035. That’s no small task.
Professor Rose Luckin’s article on AI, go here.
To read Jackie
Mader’s article (3 November 2017) Online Preschool: Does it work? Go here.