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Opportunities to engage with 21st century ideas

August 17th, 2009

The NZ Curriculum has 8 principles. These principles are supposed to underpin all decision making in schools. One of these principles is about community engagement and one is about future focus. At NZCER we are running a project (Families’ and communities’ engagement in education) that is looking at what opportunities whole school communities (students, teachers, families) have to engage with 21st century ideas about education. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that families (and the wider community) have access to some of the current ideas about schooling and how it might need to change to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world?

Recently a group of principals (and other school leaders) we are working with met to talk about what current school practices might be useful for engaging families with future focused ideas about education.  How might parent-teacher interviews for instance be structured differently to serve this purpose? What messages do parents currently get about what is important to learn, from looking at their children’s homework or  school newsletters? What role do (or could) students themselves play in challenging the way the adults around them think about education?

What future focused ideas do you think your communities need to engage with? Why these ideas?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  1. Ally
    | #1

    Hi Mary. I think your comment about how we define school communities is an interesting one – and one we need to think more about. When we talk of the school community do we mean the families of the pupils at the school or all the people that live or work in the vicinity of the school? Or both? Some schools for example have many pupils from outside the immediate area.

  2. Mary
    | #2

    What an interesting thread this is!

    I would love to see how some of the other ST community describe / define their school communities.

    Do we genuinely see our school as part of the community – implying that the school needs to fit in to the community and be responsive to what they need.. OR
    Do we behave as if our community is part of our school – implying that parents, employers, studetns, etc should fit in with the school and be responsive to what it needs?

    The concept of “revealed preference” (economist speak for actions spek louder than words) might be quite telling here. Who’s brave enough to answer this challenge?

    Q1: What does your school SAY about this?
    Q2: How does your school ACT?

  3. | #3

    Hello Ally I am working on my doctorate in ed tech and I am looking to build a “community” for support and to engage me intellectually, to make me critically think. My neighbours and friends do not always do that. However you might so I guess I may in time think of you as part of my professional community. I also teach in a classroom and I have concerns about the school community. It is true that schools today are shifting and not always to what I think of as good. Here in Calgary most schools are secure and you need a name tag to walk down the hall. Parents need permission to visit and internet is closely monitored and often blocked. My concern that these “safety” measures are driven more out of culture of fear than a culture of care. I think we do need to start ask these questions of the people attend the school. Not just admin but the teachers, the kids as well as the parents. In Canada we are about to all head back to school after our summer break next week. I think I will start by asking my grade two class what they think we mean by school community. What binds us? What separates us? How do we stay connected?


  4. Ally
    | #4

    Hi Nancy. Thanks for your comments. I’m especially interested in your ideas around what we mean by “community”. New technologies have certainly challenged what we mean by community but even if we put aside virtual communities for a minute, I think the concept of community in NZ is changing. I’m not sure whether it is the same in Canada but I do not work in the community I live in. I hardly see (let alone know) my neighbours. Many children do not attend schools in their local communities so when we talk about a school community what are we really talking about? The people who attend the school and the significant people in their lives? Or is it the geographical community around the school? Or is it something completely different? In NZ schools are supposed to be responsive to the needs of their local communities but what really is the school community?

  5. | #5

    Same as it has ever been…How do we as people live well together? However how we do that is much different I think in the 21st century. I think we need to put aside the notion that technology will save us and start to live more responsibly. There are major consequences from inaction. Our kids, as do we, need to learn at school how they can make a difference. Technology can connect us not save us. As parents we need to ask what is it our kids need to know. Ask them. They don’t want to memorize ‘stuff’ they want to do. Parents should not expect ‘school’ to look that same as it did when they where in school. The student voice needs to be heard. Technology can support this. The conversation you are going to have could be very powerful. With out it parents would just expect the same old. It isn’t just school that is shifting it is our whole culture. Even the word community that you use means something different. I am in Canada listening and responding to your conversation. That is amazing don’t you think?
    Keep us informed.

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