“Miracle” schools: Teaching Kids How to Cheat the System

My nephew has just finished his secondary schooling experience. He is a classic product of NCEA. It has been a puzzling experience for his elderly parents who forked out a considerable amount for his private school education. My nephew and I have had to reassure them on numerous occasions that his laid-back approach to achievement under NCEA is generally the norm. His reassurances have usually been less convincing than mine.

My nephew is a smart kid, likely the result of a genetic throwback or damage at birth. He has taken a range of subjects, including physics and maths, to level 3. For those of us in the teaching game these subjects tend to be the preserve of the more academically able students. Not that there is a hierarchy of subjects under NCEA. That would suggest an element of academic bigotry. A dubious belief that some knowledge is more difficult to master than others. Under NCEA, knowledge is knowledge is knowledge. Learning to make a decent coffee can generate credits the same as mastering the dark art of quantum physics or differential equations.

According to the NCEA socialist mindset, learning how to do a Powhiri is equal to learning Shakespeare or advanced chemistry (not that kids should be learning Shakespeare being an old white male and all that).

My laid-back nephew’s parents have struggled to understand how he could achieve success while lying on the couch watching Sky Sport and facilitating his ample social life.

Apparently they just don’t get it because they were such social dweebs when they were young. He had to constantly reassure them that school was not like that in their day, a century ago. There are no real sharp edges these days. The high stakes pass-fail regime of school certificate is a medieval anachronism.

A highly stressful right of passage which is now a distant memory of the aged and infirm, like his mum and dad. Only real real losers fail these days.

Assessment is way different now. Way more user-friendly and child-orientated to ensure maximum comfort and results for least effort. Mum and Dad just needed to stop stressing out. Just chill out. Relax. Take a chill pill.

My nephew even missed a few deadlines for internals during his schooling. This completely stressed his mum. But she gets stressed if Easter is late. No worries. It’s cool, teachers usually offer re-submits. They also offer resits for students who don’t succeed first time around. The onus is on them to ensure they get decent pass rates. It is very important that teachers achieve well under NCEA. Otherwise school administrators get antsy and nervous. School pass rates are reported in the media. They are a window to the world. Bad NCEA pass rates suggest poor teaching. In the past few years, with more and more assessment being done in schools, by teachers, pass rates have rocketed. Maori and Pacific Island achievement has also increased dramatically. Schools that were previously performing poorly have seen a dramatic increase in NCEA pass rates. Everyone is happier and more laid back about academic success. It’s just so much easier than before. Teachers can point to 100 per cent pass rates in internal assessments in their subjects. Students can point to the huge amounts of NCEA credits they have accumulated, often with minimal effort and stress. What a success story. It’s strange other countries haven’t seen fit to copy it.

Pacific and Maori students not achieving? Must be the system. The answer? Have them take easy subjects where they can get easy points. But note the subtle racism here. These schools are saying Pacific and Maori students can’t handle white man’s education so we’ll give them easy subjects. It’s like telling someone who’s having trouble with Maths we’ll give you elementary Maths instead. Never mind all the Pacific Island and Maori doctors and lawyers who handled white man’s education quite well thank you very much.

But as well as allowing resubmits and pushing students into soft subjects in order to artificially inflate pass rates there are also schools “encouraging” certain students not to sit exams and even leave school. Seen it happen myself. One school even got in trouble doing it but that’s just one school amongst many. This particular school just happened to get caught.

[…]I am very fond of my nephew. He is a smart guy. He has learnt the main lesson that is taught by NCEA. It is called satisficing. Put in the minimum effort in order to achieve the required result. This is the lesson NCEA emphasises to our kids. It is not that hard to understand why NZ educational achievement is slipping, under most international measures.

Not hard to understand at all.

-NZ Herald


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Libertarian and pragmatic anarchist. Treat everything the media says as a lie and know the narrative. Facts trump rhetoric.

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