Friday, September 30, 2022

Mike Hosking: The education sector issues go back decades

We are underway at our house with NCEA. The nerves are high, and the memories have come flooding back.

History is one subject being undertaken and sadly it doesn’t appear to have changed a lot since I took it for the first time in, what was then, sixth form. I had failed School Certificate Music in fifth form and needed a new subject.

I liked and like history, but what the subject did that put me off, is have an obsession about dates. We studied World War One. To me what was important about the war was why it started, who was involved, why they were involved, and what were the consequences and ongoing effects of a world war.

But what they really wanted to know in the tests were dates. So, if you had a good memory for statistics, facts, and dates you were right. If you didn't you got put off.

I got put off. Our 15-year-old is suffering the same predicament.

I note last week a new report was released in Australia where it tells us physics is being taught to the lowest number of students in 20 years. What they are choosing is the stuff they like, which is the easy stuff.

Of course, the great lesson of education as in life, if you like it and if you love it, everything is easy. Health and PE are hot topics, I wonder why?

So, what is the point of education? Is it to teach kids to learn? Is it to provide communities with skills it needs? Is it to just get pupils through school with something that resembles a pass mark?

If physics or history is putting people off, is it the students fault? Or is it the subject because it's not taught in a way that brings people in?

The big worry for me, in a subject like history, if I got put off and my daughter 40 years later got put off, do you think there might be an issue here?

In a country where education is in crisis in terms of attendance, teacher quality and numbers, and kids with skills for the modern economy, surely two generations who see the same issues with a subject that clearly hasn’t evolved to any great degree, might be a clue as to where you might like to start looking for some answers.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.


Robert Arthur said...

If she studies NZ history dates will be the least of your worries! Your blood pressure likely will be.
I am surprised that there is still great emphasis on dates. The trend to tick box answers suits. Some very engrossing Youtube accounts of WW1 and causes.

Anonymous said...

if you can get credits for doing a haka, why would you bother with the atomic theory? as you sow, so you reap...