Schools should reflect their communities if ‘the purpose of education is to prepare young people for the future’ (Claxton, 2008, p. vi), and to ‘facilitate the flow and experience of mana in the individual and in his/her community’ (Royal, 2007, p. 2). The ‘influences of society and culture on a childs development, is grounded in a particular society in a particular time’ (Drewery & Bird, 2004, p. 23) and this should be reflected in the culture of the classroom.
Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi. Engari taku toa he toa takitini.
So what does New Zealand future look like and what is the role of its schools?
In 2005 it was the New Zealand government’s intention and commitment to transform New Zealand into a 21st century knowledge society (Cartwright, 2005) The tide has turned and as the world continues down the path of economic reform where industrialisation is no longer the back bone of the economy, New Zealand must shift with the times. As our country develops and the world opens up to globalisation, not only are our communities shifting away from industrialisation to the knowledge era, the countries immigration policy and own indigenous peoples means our communities are fast becoming culturally diverse.
There is discussion around the impact that globalisation and the knowledge era may have on community especially communities that do not have access to basic survival needs let alone the tools needed to participate in and benefit from a global and knowledge economy (Au, 2005). There are calls for considerations around the disparity that may be created by the new eras and an argument that it is everyone’s right to a basic education. It has also been noted that perhaps the knowledge societies develop attitudes that are self centred and lack empathy and consideration for communities (Gilbert, 2005). Based on this information it may be argued that the education system should be maintained with a curriculum and pedagogy set by the state. There are also fears that a learning society will become a learning market where knowledge becomes a commodity for the wealthy and privileged. ‘The development of a learning society solely predicated on market imperatives for skills for strategic innovation and economic growth according to traditional economic measures, and much criticised by academic commentators...’ (Casey, 2006, p. 356)
As New Zealand continues down the path of becoming a knowledge driven, culturally diverse society, communities will soon require it citizens and members to be lifelong and life wide learners. If the purpose of schools is to prepare young people for their futures and if influences of society and culture impacts on a child’s development, then surely they have no choice but to reflect their communities and prepare their student for the future.
The Ministry of Education understands the purpose of schools and has delivered a new curriculum document (Ministry of Education:Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, 2007). In this...