Updated: Apr 2
Ngai Tahu brought me on to help communicate their alternative vision for an education system that works better for everyone. They want to give rangatahi an empowered pathway through the education system, free from racism and unconscious bias.
Our current education policy asserts that grouping people into same ability classes produces the best outcomes for everyone.
Research shows that the opposite is true.
And worse than producing bad academic results for the streamed kids, it has the unintended consequence of reinforcing racist stereotypes.
I communicated these complicated ideas in a series of images - showing the problem and the solution.
The problem is very clear - kids get tested and streamed down into so called "cabbage maths" and this impacts on their esteem and self image.
The teachers expectations are already low, and this in turn produces poor results. The prospects for that kid get damaged - permanently. They become adults who have poor resources and incomes and the cycle repeats itself. The kids in higher ability classes miss out on the opportunity to practice their knowledge through sharing - teaching others is one of the leading factors in how well learning gets embedded.
And in the background, we have the system that produces our national school culture. The teacher is the link between these two worlds. The teachers don't challenge the negative stereotypes, they don't push back against the parental pressure they get.
They focus on the behaviour of the individual instead of seeing the systems and patterns that create the situation. There are well-meaning public policy experts who are trying to make streaming work as best they can for Māori and Pasifika, but they are tinkering around the edges of a broken system.
The only way to get streaming accepted is to create a new vision for how it will work, and educate parents about the benefits - which is well backed up by evidence. But this takes leadership, because it will be hard to counter the old ideas and stereotypes and build support.
Ngai Tahu have a strong vision for schools that have teams not streams. The schools are striving for both educational and mana-enhancing outcomes.
There is a strong focus on collaboration, the students learn and share together. Both abilities have something to gain. There is more respect and understanding across abilities.
The teacher plays a facilitation role - introducing the material, and helping teams to have positive learning interactions. The students take home the material, and show their families, encouraged to learn and share what they are learning.
Strong leaders tell an alternative story about our mana-enhancing schools of the future. They actively campaign to shift the public opinion about the drawbacks of streaming and the benefits of collaboration and inclusion.
The results speak for themselves. Grades improve, classroom relationships improve, bullying decreases. This approach fundamentally changes the system to work better for everyone. Importantly, the results are happen fast, they are measure-able and very tangible.
Racism and trauma is actively removed from the system.