Interrogating the Curriculum – The NZ Curriculum
“The NZ Curriculum is a statement of official policy for teaching and learning in English-medium NZ schools. Its principal function is to set the direction for student learning and to provide guidance to schools as they design and review their curriculum” (Education 2007).
Critique of the NZ Curriculum
In The New Zealand Curriculum, it states that the curriculum “is a clear statement of what we deem important in education. It takes as its starting point a vision of our young people as lifelong learners …” (Ministry of Education, 2007). Whether or not a preference concerning lifelong learning is established relies fundamentally on the teaching strategies, the outlook, and essence of learning, and the level of contentment and delight which students undergo. Much of the vital skills organised under self-monitoring and work and study result in achieving education to be a sufficient and effective experience and consequently cultivate the competencies and attitude needed. Nevertheless, the construction of the curriculum with regards of Achievement Outcomes possibly will cause certain teachers to confine the learning proficiencies they provide students, to avoid the risk of not having enough time to incorporate the whole curriculum. These tendencies might challenge students’ basic gratification and therefore their readiness regarding lifelong learning. In the Annual Report on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data and Statistics (2017), statistics show the percentage of students attaining NCEA Level 1 was 74.6%, for NCEA Level 2 was 78.5%, for NCEA Level 3 was 65.7% and students attaining University Entrance was 49.4%. There is a clear pattern of percentages decreasing as students attain a higher level of NCEA. This can possibly convey the students’ unmotivated nature towards learning and therefore affect them being lifelong learners.
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The big significance in acknowledging and sustaining New Zealand’s bicultural history and the elements exclusive to New Zealand is the most prominent component of the New Zealand curriculum. “The curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people” (Ministry of Education, 2007). There exist Maori-medium and English-medium schools. The curriculum strains the ideologies, proposes important learnings about New Zealand culture and the Treaty of Waitangi, specifically in Social Studies, and incorporates distinct examples of Maori culture and tradition in other areas of learning. Applying this method, one consequence is the correlative undermining of the dedication to acknowledging and reflecting on other groups’ culture and traditions that are found in New Zealand’s multi-cultural community.
Secondary Education in NZ
I did my secondary education here in New Zealand and from my perspective, aspects of the curriculum were implemented well into my school, and some were not. I believe that the Treaty of Waitangi aspect of the curriculum was applied to our class well. The importance of the Treaty of Waitangi and the bicultural history of New Zealand was communicated to the class through the mediums of visuals and worksheets. I developed a great comprehension of what the Treaty of Waitangi was and its importance to New Zealand. Nevertheless, I have a contrary viewpoint with the value of equity in the curriculum. The curriculum states that “students will be encouraged to value… equity” (Ministry of Education, 2007). In an effort to express the value of equity, it requires a way for it to be expressed in schools in order for the value to be expressed by students. For instance, I had an exceptionally challenging time in my Year 13 Calculus class. I consider myself advanced in Mathematics and a motivated student who will not give up when challenges occur. However, I found great difficulty in my Year 13 Calculus class on the topic: Conics, consequently, I would ask the teacher for help. After the teacher tried to guide me through briefly, I still struggled to solve the question. In turn, my teacher said, “go work it out yourself, I can’t help you if you don’t understand it”. After this scenario, she never attended me whenever I required assistance. What discouraged me was that she would spend most of the time trying to guide the students who were excelling at a faster pace than me. I believe that she regarded her time and effort was more beneficial towards the students who were excelling at a faster rate. Consequently, I felt undervalued and had no guidance which resulted in me to fail the class. The value of equity was not possessed by my teacher, therefore was not implemented into the classroom. If something was not evident in the classroom, then how would it be expected that a student is encouraged to value equity.
75% of teachers believe assessment drives the curriculum (Hipkins & Spiller, 2012), hence why assessments should have more significance in the curriculum. The 1998 Black and Wiliam study delivered evidence that assessments can create a difference in learning results. They concluded that “assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement…” (Black & Wiliam, 1998). There should be more emphasis on assessments in the curriculum. The curriculum should recognise a more in depth organised equilibrium between assessment and learning in contrast to the broad material about the characteristics of effective assignments.
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Assessment for secondary qualifications in New Zealand can include both internal and external assessment strategies. External assessment is administered by NZQA through national examinations. Internal assessment is mainly created on the exercises done in class and classroom-based assessment. Assessment is decisively focused toward the student. It does not highlight how teachers convey and deliver material, instead, how students obtain that material, their ability to comprehend it, and how they can implement it. I believe that the NZQA is not providing an effective way to assess students in secondary school. Not all assessments provided by NZQA allow for any originality or reflective response. There is a need to “explore the potential of assessment to raise standards directly as an integral part of each pupil’s learning work” (Black & Wiliam, 1998). A significant amount of time, questions are in search for one correct answer rather than a different viewpoint or conception on a certain notion. Consequently, students tend to draw attention on specific exam questions instead of the whole topic. Assessment can prevent creativity and original thinking, create strain among students, and it underachieves to reflect the growth of the student. Substantially, there exist numerous other methods of assessments that might possibly be more affective to a wider range of students that should be accounted. Examining by the creation of projects or presentations are manageable, and those type of medium of expression can be created over a time interval which gives students more flexibility.
- Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment. The Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-148. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.canterbury.ac.nz/stable/20439383
- Hipkins, R., & Spiller, L. (2012). NCEA and Curriculum Innovation: Learning from change in three schools. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Retrieved from https://www.nzcer.org.nz/system/files/NCEA%20and%20Curriculum%20Innovation%20final_1.pdf
- Ministry of Education (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.
- New Zealand Qualifications Authority (2018). Annual Report on NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship Data and Statistics (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nzqa.govt.nz/assets/About-us/Publications/stats-reports/ncea-annual-report-2017.pdf
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