Class­room test­ing is in the past


A world-renowned ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist says New Zealand’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is at risk of be­ing ‘‘se­duced’’ by test­ing.

Univer­sity of Ore­gon pro­fes­sor Yong Zhao has been speak­ing with Auck­land school man­agers and prin­ci­pals about the fu­ture of the ed­u­ca­tion pro­fes­sion.

While New Zealand is con­sid­ered to have a pro­gres­sive ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, Zhao warns we are fo­cus­ing too much on the past.

‘‘We be­lieve that a good ed­u­ca­tion is rep­re­sented by good test scores,’’ he says

‘‘But for me, that’s the best of ed­u­ca­tion in the past. We’re try­ing to pro­vide an ed­u­ca­tion ma­chine that pro­duces like an as­sem­bly line. These kinds of jobs are gone.’’

Zhao has pub­lished more than 100 ar­ti­cles and 20 books analysing the im­pli­ca­tions of glob­al­i­sa­tion and tech­nol­ogy on ed­u­ca­tion.

He says as­sess­ing the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion through Na­tional Stan­dards fig­ures and test­ing like the Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment (PISA) is a mis­take.

‘‘I don’t think New Zealand needs to be com­pet­i­tive on a global scale. It’s too small a coun­try. You need to find your niche.

‘‘Teach­ers re­ally want to do more for their chil­dren, needs to be sup­ported.

‘‘We need ed­u­ca­tion that sup­ports the de­vel­op­ment of unique skills to a level that [chil­dren] don’t meet stan­dards, they are their own stan­dards.’’

Stan­dard­ised test­ing is not pre­par­ing chil­dren for the jobs of the fu­ture, Zhao says.

‘‘It’s all ex­ist­ing so­lu­tions to ex­ist­ing prob­lems. All the that stan­dard­ised test­ing can do is put peo­ple in the bell curve.’’

Zhao says this sim­ply cre­ates nat­u­ral psy­cho­log­i­cal win­ners and losers.

‘‘At the age of 7 we take a test and we de­ter­mine if we’re go­ing to be a help­ful per­son to so­ci­ety. Chil­dren don’t have the con­fi­dence that they are suc­cess­ful.

‘‘If we have many bell curves each in­di­vid­ual can be ex­em­plary in their own way.’’

Chil­dren need to be taught prin­ci­ples of cre­ativ­ity, prob­lem solv­ing and con­fi­dence, Zhao says.

‘‘All these me­chan­i­cal jobs will quickly be gone so hu­mans need to be­come more hu­man.

‘‘No mat­ter how ad­vanced a ma­chine is, it can’t ex­pe­ri­ence cre­ativ­ity or un­der­stand what’s worth do­ing.’’


World-renowned ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ist Yong Zhao has been speak­ing with Auck­land ed­u­ca­tors.

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