Parata: families and society must step up

As she ends her tenure as Minister of Education Hekia Parata says that the responsibility for education goes beyond schools.

NZ Herald: Schools can’t teach everything, outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata warns

Outgoing Education Minister Hekia Parata says a push for schools to cover all civic and social responsibilities needs to be resisted – saying families and society must step up.

Parata highlighted the issue during an exit interview with the Herald before she steps down from the role on May 1, with Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye expected to take over.

“We should demand a lot from our education system because we have a quality one. But we shouldn’t demand everything,” Parata said.

“Financial literacy, sex education, bullying – any number of issues – whenever they emerge in the public domain the first response is, ‘This should be taught by schools’. I think there needs to be a much fairer shared responsibility here between parents, family, whanau.

“Schools are there to deliver an education. They are not there to take over all the roles and responsibilities of families or society. The more there is balance in those expectations the more the schools can have the space to be the best that it can be.”

Parata makes an important point.

Curiosity and diligence and a willingness to learn has to start at home, with parents and with wider whanau.

By the time kids get to school – or even to early childhood education – they will have learnt off those they live with.

But how parents and whanau learn how to teach their children better?

And right through a child’s school it is important for parents not to just leave education up to the Government or to schools.

More important than learning stuff is the gaining the ability and desire to learn. A babbling teacher will struggle without a curious child.

There is a growing tendency for some to expect schools to feed the kids, parent the kids, provide social support, and try to fit in a bit of the three ‘R’s.

Most of what most animals learn is from observation, by copying, mimicking, learning off those they associate with. Especially off those they are close to and trust.

Education begins at home, and needs to continue at home. Schools can be a major help, but they will never replace the essential role of parents and whanau.

30 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  April 20, 2017

    Good points, Pete. I just wish Parata had said ” its time for Maori to step up”. And its time to deregister the teacher unions. Why do governments and society have a problem stating the obvious?

    • The obvious is that it’s up to all parents and families and communities to step up.

      I hope kids aren’t taught to just blame others (especially not whole groups of others regardless of what they are doing) and ignore their own shortcomings.

      • Gezza

         /  April 20, 2017

        How do you think communities can step up?

  2. John Schmidt

     /  April 20, 2017

    I have a grandson who has just turned 4 and is just starting to write and he is able to read. He can count to 100 and is able to add and subtract all without a teacher or school being involved all because he has caring parents who have made learning fun. So it can be done if parents make the effort.

    • duperez

       /  April 20, 2017

      As I said the other day in the discussion about teacher qualifications, the vast majority of stuff people learn is not learned at school. A small proportion of kids’ lives are spent at school before they’re 18.
      Is the important stuff counting and reading or learning how to be a civilised human being? If you turn up at school thinking you’re scum, having been treated like crap all your life and ready to take it out on the world, whether the teacher unions are registered or not is irrelevant. Once you walk in the gate all that’s important is where you’re going to fit on the National Standards and NCEA graphs.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 20, 2017

        Being an innumerate,illiterate but civilised human being is unlikely to open doors to great careers.

        It’s nonsense to say that all that’s important is NCEA etc; you can’t be familiar with many schools. There are anti-bullying programmes, for one thing. There are counsellors available.There are sports and other such activities. You must be out of touch with what’s going on in schools. There is a limit to what any school can do-if someone is determined not to learn, they can’t be forced to do so, of course.

        • duperez

           /  April 20, 2017

          I’m more than familiar enough with schools. It is reasonable to say the prime and over-riding goal of schools in our current regime is the look of the National Standards and NCEA graphs. That pure mindlessness and what it has done to teaching is a legacy of Hekia Parata. It’s the sort of approach which has seen someone with the background of Kelvin Smythe call her our worst Minister of Education ever. And my sarcastic comment about her and Clarence Beeby recently after PartisanZ introduced his name.

          As to innumerate, illiterate but civilised humans being unlikely to open doors to great careers, maybe it’s the innumerate, illiterate uncivilised ones who smash down doors and roam the streets creating mayhem in places like Kaikohe .

          I know there is a limit to what any school can do. I know that many of the essential things they should do they can’t. They want to but there are many reasons they can’t.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 20, 2017

            I said that BEING an innumerate, illiterate civilised human being was unlikely to open doors to great careers; schools MUST teach the 3 Rs (and what follows from them)

            • Blazer

               /  April 22, 2017

              the 3 R’s…rugby,racing..and rooting.

      • @ duperez – “Once you walk in the gate all that’s important is where you’re going to fit on the National Standards and NCEA graphs.”

        Not quite. Perhaps more important is where you’re going to fit in the ‘Lord of the Flies’ jungle-playground-classroom social hierarchy … ?

        • The one we encourage by abdicating our responsibility for any human relationships education in schools …

          • Gezza

             /  April 22, 2017

            What sort of human relationships education are you thinking schools should be doing, PZ? What sorts of things would be covered?

            • While its 12 or 13 years since I did any teaching, I doubt things have changed much since, or even since I was a primary, intermediate or secondary student myself …

              To oversimplify: Classrooms are ruled by trouble-makers, attention seekers and children unsuited to classrooms, probably in roughly that order though overlapping … Playgrounds are ruled by bullies and ‘popularity’ … A Darwinian ‘jungle mentality’ is assumed to prevail and left to its own devices … failing notworthy physical injury …

              Age-appropriate human relationships education is the answer …

              Basic courteous listening, acknowledgement and reply … at the appropriate age … with opportunities to practice ‘dialogue’ … sensitivity to self and others …

              Education in understanding power relationships, empathy and self-esteem, group building, team building, individual and community consciousness … at an appropriate age …

              Guided sociodramatic exercises … at an appropriate age … since that’s essentially what all classroom interaction is anyhow …

            • Gezza

               /  April 22, 2017

              Might depend on where the school is located I guess & the kinds of homes & mean streets some of the kids come from. A common complaint from teachers is that are expected to fill the role of parents & social workers as well as teach their subjects. Most of those things are covered in schools these days, but dealing with unruly & violent behaviour is notoriously problematic.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 20, 2017

    I think it is inevitable education will move online and a lot of teachers will be out of a job. Teaching will be done by the really smart people and the rest will just be child-minding. I can’t see that being far away now.

    • Gezza

       /  April 20, 2017

      Where do you think the children will be to do their online learning? At school still?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  April 20, 2017

        Various, I would say and hope. Some at scool centres, some at home, some in work places, some travelling …

        • Gezza

           /  April 20, 2017

          I din’t like this Al. We need to know where the all little blighters are at all times. Otherwise they just get into mischief.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 20, 2017

            I can’t see it happening, Gezza. It’s not realistic.

            And what about the social aspects of school life ? You can’t put on a play or concert with everyone online.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 20, 2017

              Just join a drama club, Kitty. Plenty of sports clubs too. Not a good reason to rescue obsolete and poorly performing education systems.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 21, 2017

              Can you see the children of some of the families we see on the news doing that ? Their only hope for an education is to be there at the school.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 21, 2017

              Yes, as I said below there will be educational prison camps for the disaster families and whanau.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 22, 2017

              That would be such a hassle to set up that I can’t see the point.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 22, 2017

              They are already set up. The competent have yet to escape them.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  April 20, 2017

            Yes, there’ll be some like that, G. There’ll be “scools” for them, a bit like community work sentences. Costs extra of course and will have poor results.

    • @ Alan – “Teaching will be done by the really smart people and the rest will just be child-minding.”

      IMHO a significant portion of education as we know it today is “just child-minding”.

      We’re not really talking about separate forms of education – of which there are potentially many – but about components of one thing, compulsory schooling …

      We’ve also lost sight of much of the potential and many of the possibilities even of that, the local [compulsory] school, as in community centre, sharing-of-experience place – e.g. involvement of elderly people – human resource centre, technology centre …

      I’ve visited one school in the Far North which has a community aged-care facility directly attached to it; a marvellous idea, good for all concerned, young and old.

      Its a Maori initiative of long-standing, of course …

      Incidentally, I agree about a lot of schooling going online in the near future, but I’m not sure this will be a good thing … Basic skills maybe, but more isolation from one another …

      Better, I think, to open-up both schools and education and, most of all, deal with the unhealthy ‘socialisation’ aspects of school as we know it …

  4. The nature of teaching has changed significantly in my life-time. I would have liked to be positive about the change, but I can not. The biggest change is in the culture of teaching staff. Factually, teachers gender distribution has become feminised far too much, and this has directly affected the teaching of mathematics, science and physical training. An examination of results by gender show that boys are slipping back and this is of particular concern for our Maori and Pasifika students.
    In my view, there should be a Royal Commission into the selection and training of the teachers and the extent to which teachers and Principals Unions and organisations contribute to or detract from the overall quality of teaching as well as the extent to which they meet the needs of the students.
    Teachers claim to bee too busy to be able to supervise sports teams and extracurricular activities and urge provisionof supervisors by casual staff and the community. They were able to handle the lot in the 40s to the 60s, what changed and why is this intolerable now? The system is broke and needs fixing.

  5. Griff

     /  April 22, 2017

    Social services are a integral part of a schools role as a component in the surrounding community. Educating as many people as we can to a highest standard we can is the best we we can rise economic performance. This goal means we must spend effort to minimize the failures
    Schools are the only place children of feral parents have a chance to be integrated into society. Any child from such parents we can move towards a more productive life style saves us hundreds of thousands it future costs . .Social services is one one we can target children who could otherwise fail.

  1. Parata: families and society must step up – NZ Conservative Coalition