Kerre McIvor: Fixing our shambolic education system should be doable

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Feb 2021, 2:37PM
(Photo / Getty)

Kerre McIvor: Fixing our shambolic education system should be doable

Author
Kerre McIvor,
Publish Date
Tue, 2 Feb 2021, 2:37PM

It is still a big regret of mine that I lost my way with maths. 

I was really enjoying maths for years and years and then I hit fifth form and either it was the change of teacher or I'd just reached my natural limit but one minute I had it, and the next minute it was gone. 

One minute I was enjoying the glorious purity of solving equations, the next the numerals and symbols were just incomprehensible ciphers. 

I managed to scrape through School C maths, then collapsed into a sixth form economics class and that was the end of maths for me. 

And I've had on my bucket list for years the desire to go back to school and learn the language of maths properly.  It's a beautiful language and one I got to do the equivalent of saying Hello, how are you? and Thank you very much in - just your basic essentials but that was it. 

And it appears I'm not alone.  For years and years, Kiwi kids have been on a slippery slope - if I knew maths I'd be able to put a maths pun in there about angles - sliding down the international league tables since global testing started in the 1990s. 

To be fair, we're also flunking in reading and science.  But the latest results of the Trends in International Maths and Science Study released last year were so bad that everybody's decided that somebody has to do something .

And look at that, somebody has. The Ministry of Education has called in a Royal Society expert panel to adapt the national curriculum to achieve this. 

There are four main surveys that measure how well our education system is doing.  All show that we're in trouble.  And we've known this for years.  There are so many, many things wrong with our education system, it's hard to know where to start. 

Perhaps when our national curriculum advisory service was abolished with the establishement of Tomorrow's Schools.  Schools became self governing and in recent years, schools have been left to buy their own advice from approved profit driven facilitators.  Schools bid for professional development funding from a limited pool. 

Teachers need more support.  Only 14 per cent of NZ Year 5 primary teachers specialised in maths in their training compared with a global average of 43 per cent.  Kids are also missing out because teachers stream students into ability based groups far more than their global counterparts do. 

It's a shambles but it can and should be fixable.