A blueprint is a reproduction of a technical drawing…invented in the 19th century, the process allowed rapid and accurate reproduction of documents used in construction and industry. The blue-print process was characterised by light colored lines on a blue background, a negative of the original. The process was unable to reproduce color or shades of grey. SOURCE
I blogged about and contributed to the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning discussion paper launched by the Minister last year. We really need this kind of formal process to publicly discuss important issues in education. I liked how the Minister called it a ‘serious discussion’ and many of the ideas outlined yesterday, in ‘A blueprint for action’, signed by Michelle Bruniges, the Director-General, Tom Alegounarias, President of the Board of Studies NSW and Patrick Lee, Chief Executive of the NSW Institute of Teachers, are excellent. The NSW Teachers Federation has responded positively to the blueprint.
My submission at the website focused on the first question:
Who would disagree with the Minister’s line, “in today’s schools, 21st century knowledge, understandings, skills and values must be at the heart of great teaching and inspired learning”?
The problem is the elephant in the room.
The lack of public discussion from our most important political and educational leaders about genuine reform of a system that commenced in 1963, a vastly different era, is very evident. The HSC runs education in NSW. It certainly keeps everyone running and it is obsolete. Some may correctly argue that the HSC has constantly been updated and reformed, in a range of ways, including the school-based assessment using outcomes based education. There are many more courses and great flexibility to study VET subjects. However, the reality is that students still have to write fast with pen and paper, an obsolete skill in 21st century Australia.
The blueprint and media both highlight the need for quality teachers and a need to lift standards, especially in the selection and preparation of the next generation to grace our classrooms. However, it is the emphasis on the ATAR to sort out who should become a teacher that is flawed. The cycle that is lifting standards by having students conform to an obsolete system while extolling the virtues of ’21st century’ skills is clearly problematic. The nature of the pen and paper exams needs serious consideration and a blueprint for action.
The reforms outlined in the blueprint are understandable, however, the real reform that students and teachers need is to the HSC. The other issue is money: “Mr Piccoli said the changes would be funded through the NSW Department of Education’s existing budget, and any requests for additional resourcing would need to be considered by the government.” Source
How much would it cost to reform the pen and paper HSC exams to a more appropriate 21st century system? Or rather, how much will it cost us not too?
Featured image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo by alexharries: http://flickr.com/photos/alexharries/5475913747/