Basics first, creative learning will follow
In The New Zealand Initiative Report, Briar Lipson claims New Zealand teachers are deluded in thinking they should let children direct their own learning. This is linked to New Zealand’s declining educational performance.
A deeper issue is that some students do not have the necessary fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension to be able to conduct their own inquiry into learning.
Some children are lucky and pick up this language knowledge without foundational, systematic, direct teaching. However there is a significant group who need specific teaching ( e. g. dyslexic students and some students from homes where a formal language is not spoken).
A massive body of international research shows effective teaching of literacy requires the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, phonics, leading on to spelling and vocabulary. This ensures that children can read with understanding, which underpins their written and mathematics skills. Unfortunately in New Zealand primary schools there is insufficient direct teaching of these essential skills. Well- educated and trained teachers need to lead the way to students gaining basic knowledge, then as they mature they are able to use an inquiry- centred approach and develop their creativity.