Proponents of socio-critical discourses are influenced by critical pedagogy. In general education, advocates of critical pedagogy are committed to ongoing reflection and action, as a process for creating change in classroom structures and practices that perpetuate undemocratic life. Furthermore, they attempt to develop a culture of schooling that supports empowerment of culturally marginalised and economically disenfranchised students (Baltodano, Darder & Torres, 2003).
Critical pedagogy involves questioning assumptions of power, inequalities, and the relationship between power and knowledge. In addition by acknowledging these inequalities, critical pedagogy aims to empower individuals and groups to take social action for change. Consequently, emancipation and social justice are major goals of critical pedagogues (Friere, 1972; McLaren, 2007).
Educational commentators such as Apple (2004) and Ross (2000) argue that society is built on an economic and cultural imbalance and that the ethos, context and structures of schools actively maintain the imbalance to substantiate and legitimise the existing social and economic structures. Ross (2000) argues further that ‘a schooling system which credentializes a particular proportion of the population roughly equivalent to the needs of the division of labour (and de-credentialises the rest) is almost a natural way of maintaining the economic and cultural imbalance on which these societies are built’ (p. 42).
Those of us involved in education, need to be aware of and actively challenge ourselves, not to allow these institutions and power imbalances to be rife in our schools. A major limitation to this (if we allow it) can be the assessment system. With recent developments, or regression as the case may be, allow for these imbalances to continue. In a system that involves “apparent” standards based assessment, where if you meet the criteria at a certain level, you will achieve the standard at that. However, with the use of the PEP in externally assessed standards, there is manipulation of results to suit. This allows for the fore-mentioned “credintailzing” and “decredentializing” of results to occur, to ensure the status quo is maintained. Do we really want to adhere to a system that ensures this? Or do we want to challenge the system, put students at the centre, allow for creative and inspiring teaching and learning to occur and then align the systems we “must” implement to this.
Through my research in 2014, –Investigating Socio-critical Discourses in Assessment of Senior Physical Education in New Zealand, the key findings showed that factors influencing selection / non-selection of different standards are complex and decision-making about selection can involve dichotomous thinking. The data provided insight into the impact that issues associated with standard selection and interpretation can have in relation to teachers’ design of teaching and learning programmes, students’ pedagogical experiences and assessment associated with NCEA physical education.
Furthermore, teachers’ own habitus, beliefs, value orientation, language and pedagogical practice were shown to have a strong influence on understandings and application of standards. Issues of alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy were also explored. The study highlighted the importance of teachers’ understanding of the tensions, knowledge structures and power relations at play between curriculum, assessment and pedagogy. Data revealed important ways in which these matters inform and limit understandings of what constitutes legitimate and valued practice and learning in senior physical education.
Implications of this inquiry were explored for educational policy developers, senior secondary HPE teachers, all HPE teachers, HPE departments, pre-service teacher educators, senior secondary teachers working in other subject/learning areas and research. An extensive list of recommendations has been made. Several areas were identified as requiring further research. Further exploration of teachers’ habitus, beliefs and values and the influence these have on the alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy would be useful. In addition research into ‘holistic’ physical education ‘in’, ‘through’ and ‘about’ movement, in the context of NCEA, would facilitate more accurate and meaningful conclusions about teaching and learning and assessment experiences for secondary school students in NCEA physical education.
My concerns for Health and Physical Education are if a shift to 50% external, from a fully internally assessed subject, will shift the teaching and learning programme even further away from the relevance, voice and choice that can be drawn on in our teaching and learning programmes. The talk of portfolios is a possible way to stop this from occurring, but here we need to be careful of the clarification documents and exemplars that go out around this. Some other curriculum areas may potentially see this 50/50 split as something similar to what they have now. However, we have to be careful where external assessment is used as a legitimisation of subjects, or accountability tool to ensure the “school down the road” is doing things how they should be, or a way to ensure that when we “rank schools” we can trust the ranking. Who cares about ranking? Who cares about accountability? Who is this system really serving anyway? What do we really value? While the research specifically sat specifically in the Health and Physical Education for this comparative case study, the implications were wider in terms of decision making about teaching and learning and and pedagogy and assessment aligned to this.
I came across this work from the OECD on the Learning Compass 2030.
What is the Learning Compass?
The Learning Compass 2030 defines the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that learners need to fulfil their potential and contribute to the well-being of their communities and the planet.
If you use this link http://www.oecd.org/education/2030-project/teaching-and-learning/learning/ you can click around the information to look at skills, values, knowledge, attitudes and more that consider a more future focused view on where schools should be heading. All of this is in total contrast to where we are heading with the NCEA as a system for “measuring success”.
We had a chance to really rethink, reimagine and reconsider, what the “purpose of education” really is. To re-imagine how we assess, these skills, capabilities, values etc…Why is this so important? Well what we truly value, we should be measuring. How is the Ministry going about this chance to revision and reimagine. Currently, it is heading down the track of subject associations bringing their expert knowledge to the table, to decide what is valued knowledge in curriculum areas. Here lies the problem, does it sit in subject areas? Is it knowledge that is important? Or is it skills, capabilities, attitudes and values? If it is the later, then we need to advocate for a group to challenge the status quo. To look across curriculum areas, to find generic skills and capabilities that are needed to succeed in whatever life throws at people. The way the world is heading, it is going to throw a lot!!! Only then, can we truly personalise our teaching and learning programmes to allow for what the OECD tool talks of……
“…success in education to be about identity, agency and purpose. It’s about curiosity, compassion & the courage to put our cognitive, social and emotional resources into action”.
On Friday, I attended the Word Summit 2019, alongside our Māori and Pasifika Rōpū. Run by Action Education involving the South Auckland Poet Collective, the event was awesome, engaging and inspiring.
The learning was relevant to our ākonga and it was not just me who thought this. On the way home in the bus, they all talked about how inspired they were by the spoken word poets that they heard. There was learning going on all day, involving knowledge and skills you may find in the English Curriculum, such as, personification, alliteration and use of metaphors. All the things I used to switch off to at school. However, here they were using Tupac, rap and spoken word to engage and inspire.
You might think anyone could do this in their classroom? Well, a big past of it came down to the role modelling of Māori and Pasifika Poets. However, something even more special than curriculum content occurred on Friday. I could see a wider range of skills and capabilities being used in action. Students were building the confidence to “talk on the Mic”, they were using their own identity to develop poems to express themselves. In addition they were using interpersonal skills and collaborating with others.
They were drawing on connections of identity and self, to create and share. They were putting themselves out of their comfort zones and challenging their own assumptions about poetry. They were challenging systems, issues in the world and talking about transformation. If this had all occurred in the silo of English, we could be missing out on so much more…
Ākonga had creative ideas for social action, showed curiosity, compassion, and courage, challenged power in society through their words, advocated for change, some of the content was raw and real. In addition they showed leadership skills in different aspects of the day. Ākonga loved the day and I believe it had a truly strong and positive influence on their hauora/wellbeing.
What if some of these skills, capabilities and focuses could be captured? What if it did not matter what curriculum area these were arising through? What if we could see beyond silos and draw out the learning and outcomes that were achieved that day? Who says that for deep learning to occur it must sit in chunks like 20 credits? Who decided this? Let us not be dictated by a system… we need to push back, we need policy makers to rethink how they may be limiting the alignment of curriculum, assessment and pedagogy, by allowing standards and outcomes to sit in discrete tightly framed chunks of knowledge and understanding within subject areas. Even with the shift after the fact, to say that cross-curricular programmes can still occur, who says this occurs in 20 credit chunks? Careful thought of how this is developed by the MOE beyond the subject associations, will allow New Zealand to re-prioritise and work more to ensure that…
“…success in education can be about identity, agency and purpose. It’s about curiosity, compassion & the courage to put our cognitive, social and emotional resources into action”.