Back to Basics?

Once again “Back to Basics” is on the lips of ACT followers and others of that ilk as the answer to the Government’s quest for education's silver bullet.

As a child I chanted tables and spelling words until they became engraved in my mind. I value them. However, they did not teach me why, how or when to use them. Spelling didn’t teach me to write. The richness of deep learning was absent. While basics are essential, they alone will not help our students thrive in today’s world. 
 
Last month the Back to Basics outcry was generated by the TIMMS report on New Zealand students' mathematics results. Dr Fiona Ell responded by recommending we stop, breath through our noses and take time for reflection not to wildly swing the pendulum. What sound advice. Like me you may be suffering from motion sickness as the powers-that-be knee jerk us from one side to other in the search for instant answers.
 
We are disappointed at the results. There is a problem but many will be fearful of another wave of knee jerk solutions. 
 
The expectation that any MoE initiative introduced will have an immediate impact on student achievement is not realistic. Teachers have to buy into the initiative, interpret the initiative, make the step between knowing what is intended and doing what is intended and then measuring the impact and adapting their delivery. This process takes time and varies from individual to individual. This will not translate into improved student achievement for some years. 
 
To continue in a knee jerk way can only result in greater disappointment and lower teacher morale.
 
Helen Jackman
Accent Learning