In the previous article I examined four of the eight areas of focus that the 2007 curriculum changes focussed on. In this article I conclude my look at the eight focus areas and examine some of the challenges facing them. With such a diverse curriculum and competing demands for money and resourcing, it is a challenge in itself to set an appropriate budget and prioritize the core areas.
Ultimately nearly all of what I learnt useful learning, but it is fair to say mathematics was my least favourite subject by a long shot. So, no real changes recommended here except to make Year 11 Maths partially internally assessed so that those who do not do well on in exam conditions are able to participate. The key areas I learnt were trigonometry, algebra, but also advanced fractions.
I was withdrawn from Art because I had a major falling out with my Year 9 teacher and sent to an alternate class for those who needed extra assistance with their school work. The only assessment I can remember doing was having to do a Maori koru design pattern. It looked interesting and I had one sketched out, but somehow it was never completed.
With New Zealand’s large immigrant population, especially from Asia, it is essential that New Zealanders become more conversant in a second language. In the tourism and business sectors dealing with many temporary staff coming from places like France and Germany on work visas has become increasingly valuable. This is where the 2007 curriculum changes really shone – aside from adding Te Reo Maori and Sign Language as official languages, the emphasis on Te Reo was increased. There is widespread support among New Zealanders for making the learning of Te Reo Maori compulsory in New Zealand schools. I believe this would be a very good idea. In retrospect, I probably should have done Te Reo at high school instead of Japanese
At the core of any learning is the ability to first do basic activities without technological aides. Thus before using computers, one needs to be able to read, write and count on paper. As technology as a core focus area is not one I actually encountered at school, I shall restrict my thoughts to this and a basic ability to draw. This should be a focus pre-school to show children that there are alternative methods to electronic devices.
In 1999, as a departure from the traditional core subjects, I undertook Year 12 and Year 13 Tourism. The Year 12 Course focussed on Australia as a tourist destination, whilst the Year 13 one focussed on New Zealand. They included customer service dealing with tourists, writing itineraries, looking at planning issues for tourism. I passed both, found them both useful tools and broadened my perspective on tourists and the tourism industry in New Zealand. The difference was that both of them were assessed under Unit Standards and not the traditional assessment regime. As I found Unit Standards in other courses to be problematic, it might explain why I only did these two papers.
On the whole I am satisfied with the New Zealand education curriculum. The societal problems that exist are largely not a result of what is being taught in New Zealand schools, so much as they are the result of an absence of proper upbringing in families. A child that is not properly fed, clothed and raised is always going to struggle at school. Reducing the opportunities for lower income stream children is not the answer either.