Chapter 1: Setting the Scene
Chapter 2: Where to Start?
Chapter 3: OECD PISA Reports
Chapter 4: UNICEF Report
Chapter 5: Decline of USA
Chapter 6: The UK Experience
Chapter 7: My UK Experience
Chapter 8: People at the coalface
Chapter 9: Stressed out Children
Chapter 10: Finland
Chapter 11: The Interview
Chapter 12: Pointers for the Future
Chapter 13: Music – The Crucial Ingredient
Chapter 14: Conclusion
The task of education is to optimise childrens’ wellbeing and learning. Because of the enormous amount of research and material that is available via the internet, the crucial task of achieving this objective has been made that much easier.
Strangely, politicians and administrators in the UK, USA (and now apparently New Zealand) refuse to acknowledge or view such research and material, and instead implement policies nearly always driven by political rather than education agendas.
Such policies have resulted in enormous damage to children of those countries. Descriptions and analysis in this chapter aim to indicate to such politicians and administrators a possible way forward so that such damage is avoided or at least is mitigated.
Firstly, let us examine a description of the problem. Secondly, how to rectify the situation. Thirdly, and this is inter-related to policies that will correct the problems described, examine content and methodology that is formulated on the latest research findings. Fourthly, the most efficient administrative structures for achieving the optimisation of childrens’ wellbeing and learning.
State of California
However, instead of discussing this issue theoretically, we shall take the State of California as our example. There are several reasons for this but first some background. If California was a country it would be the seventh richest country in the world yet it is now in decline and from an historical perspective, rapid decline. It is pertinent to examine the state of California pre-tertiary education to see its contribution, or lack thereof, to this scenario.
One important indicator of whether am education system is successful is the drop-out rate. According to the Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project, California State Department of Education has been for years grossly underreporting dropout rates claiming that 87% of high school students graduate.
The Harvard report puts California’s graduation rate at just over 70% while the California Parents for Educational Choice (CPEC) asserts that the true graduation rate may be closer to 60%. Gary Orefield, director of the Harvard project states “Large urban school districts in California have become dropout factories. The economic and social impacts of this dropout crisis are too enormous for California to ignore.”
Alan Bonsteel, president of the CPEC says, “The budget crisis will eventually go away but a teenager who drops out of high school today will be a tragedy for our society for a half-century to come.” Both the Harvard Report and the CPEC agree that the first step to resolving the crisis is to acknowledge that it exists. Considering what students have to continually go through at elementary school it is little wonder that many enter high school with little motivation to learn and want to leave as soon as possible.
The following, almost frightening so, indicates the lack of insight and vision that is common among politicians and administrators in the USA and UK (and in present day New Zealand). As described in Chapter 16, Bersin was appointed Superintendent of San Diego USD in 1998 although he had never held any type of education post and therefore had no previous experience of anything in education.
He served from 1998 to 2005 and received $57 million in grants from the private sector. During the seven years of Bersin’s tenure, dropout rate increased 23%. Although the state dropout rate increased (with one exception) every year, San Diego USD outpaced the state every year. According to this evidence, California’s pre-tertiary system is obviously failing a considerable number of students.
Let us examine some of the reasons for this failure although some of the reasons are at federal as well as state level.
2001 No Child Left Behind Act
The main reason must be laid at easily the biggest socialisation of education the world has ever seen. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (often abbreviated as NCLB) was a United States Act of Congress that was originally proposed by the administration of President George W. Bush immediately after taking office.
The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. The House of Representatives passed the bill on May 23, 2001 (voting 384-45), and United States Senate passed it on June 14, 2001 (voting 91-8). President Bush signed it into law on January 8, 2002.
NCLB is based on the belief that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual outcomes in education. The Act requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades, if those states are to receive federal funding for schools. The Act does not assert a national achievement standard; standards are set by each individual state.
California Assembly Bill
In 2005 California required the state Department of Education to set learning standards in four areas: mathematics, science, reading-language arts, and history-social science for 3, 4 and 5-year-olds (California Assembly Bill AB 1246). The bill identifies several specific topics to be covered.
For example, it says the history-social science standard should address citizenship and national symbols. Mathematics would touch upon the classification and measurement of numbers; science would include earth, physical and life sciences; and reading-language arts would spotlight vocabulary development and recognition of the alphabet.
Sadly, because politicians, both at state and federal level, possess no vision or insight, they have taken California and the USA down the wrong road. If they had researched the policies they were implementing and perhaps had knowledge of the decline of civilisations (AS Toynbee described, – one of the main indicators and determinants of a civilization in decline is the tendency towards standardisation and uniformity) their mindsets might have very different; New Zealand politicians please take note!
Standardised National Testing
One of the main results of the widespread introduction of standardised national testing is the effect on curriculum. Educator after educator points out that the main result of such policy is that the curriculum quickly or gradually becomes test-driven. This results eventually in an insipid and ineffective curriculum. The following could apply to any part of the elementary curriculum but will relate to the USA decline in science and mathematics.
Fewer and fewer USA students are studying science and mathematics. A crucial ingredient of successful teaching is to inspire children. If we do this they will grow up with a love of learning. The USA does exactly the opposite. Because the curriculum is test driven, teachers and schools are disempowered. In addition, the damage done to childrens’ mindsets by solely concentrating on short term memory capabilities may well be permanent.
Result of such policy is that according to international comparisons (PISA) USA students now ranked 28th of 40 countries in math and 18th in reading. Even Czech Republic students, with one-third per capita expenditure of US students, outperform USA students.
Teachers Leaving Profession
It is 2010 and after a long and distinguished teaching career Cathy feels utterly defeated. Her school received the California Distinguished School Award for high scores. It is also in Program Improvement. The services her school provided are gone because of budget cuts. Because of Program Improvement, she follows a scripted lesson plan; she’s not allowed to teach what she knows would help her children to succeed.
Why is her district in Program Improvement? Scores in special education have not met No Child Left Behind’s targets. This is just one of the results of NCLB.
In the following descriptions Cathy describes why teachers are against No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and various misconceptions about it but also what she regards as the truth about teachers attitude towards it.
Teachers don’t like NCLB because they’re against reform. Teachers are reformers. We see what kids need and we change to meet those needs. Teaching and learning are reformation. On a large scale, reform only happens when members of an organization are part of change. Classroom teachers were not included in the creation of California standards, nor of No Child Left Behind. Teachers are ready to be part of real solutions, real reform.
Teachers don’t like standards. California standards aren’t based upon child development. In world history, my seventh graders must know everything about the medieval world, from the fall of Rome to the Age of Enlightenment. Any standard could be a college course, but my kids must master them in 10 months. My kids include second language learners and students with special needs. According to NCLB, every student must meet standards by 2014, or they are failures, as is their teacher and school. Public educators are working harder than ever to help kids meet standards, but it is – literally – an impossible task.
Teachers should be paid for results. If teachers were producing widgets, that would be true. But teaching is more like medicine than an assembly line. Like doctors, teachers go through a rigorous program to prepare for their profession. Doctors identify patients’ symptoms and use techniques to treat them. Teachers do the same, but for large numbers of people at once. Yet, no one would say, “Doctor, you treated John Smith for strep throat last year. We’ll compare his results to Jane Doe to see if you’re a good doctor.” Health is not determined by one measure; a doctor’s performance is not based upon a single test. Neither should teachers be measured in that way.
Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, is a good measure of academic success.
• According to brain research, standardized tests alone are not indicators of student learning.
• We do not know if STAR is reliable or valid. Access to the test is restricted.
• When teachers see mistakes on STAR, they are fired if they discuss them.
• Performance is assessed on a curve. Even if all schools score well, the test will provide the public with “winners” and “losers.”
• Students with special needs, English language learners and those who are economically disadvantaged are all expected to meet standards.
Teachers resist charter schools because they fear competition. Charter schools aren’t held to academic standards, nor are they evaluated by standardized tests. Their teachers do not need credentials. Charter schools decide who to accept based upon any criteria and can “exit” students at any time. Public education is the reason our democracy is strong. Because public schools do not exclude kids, they learn from diversity. That is not the case in charter schools.
Teachers have it so easy. Good parents ask, “Why do kids have so much homework?” “Why is my kid so stressed?” “Why is there less time for art, music and P. E.?” “Why is there no training for kids who want to be in a trade?” The answer is, “No Child Left Behind.”They might also ask, “Why are new teachers quitting?” “Why are good teachers resigning?”
After nearly 30 years of teaching, Cathy is ready to quit. No Child Left Behind says to this to her, “We’ll give your kids unattainable standards. We’ll give you less support than you’ve had in decades. We’ll measure your kids’ performance with a single, high-stakes test. We’ll demand nothing of charter schools and make you compete with them. And, when your kids can’t succeed because we’ve given you an impossible task, we’ll call public education a failure.”
As described in Chapter 13, music is a crucial ingredient if our aim is to optimise childrens’ wellbeing and learning. If music, and for that matter art and drama, are relegated or even non-existent, childrens’ performance, vision and insight will be at a lower level, when they have reached adulthood, than otherwise might occur. The result is that such faculties are not optimised and in that sense, are impaired.
It reflects badly on California (and the USA) that its politicians have continually implemented policies that are the direct opposite, according to overwhelming international evidence, of the best ways to teach students. We shall now examine what could occur, as far as the teaching process is concerned, from a different viewpoint. However, it will need a different mindset to consider such evidence so we are hoping the reader will not dismiss or exclude such descriptions out of hand.
Left and right hand brain activity
Although it is somewhat of an oversimplification, we shall describe how left and right hand brain activity should function in balance and harmony with each other as far as this is possible.
Today and at least as Western man is concerned, we make an assumption, albeit unconscious, that knowledge is intellectual by nature. It is a major adjustment, certainly for the Western intellectual mindset, to accept that knowledge can be something else besides intellectual.
Nearly always, and certainly up until the 1970s, neurophysiologists concentrated on the left hemisphere of the brain and the mapping of its specialties. They overlooked, ignored and underestimated the importance of the brain’s right hemisphere. If we examine the descriptions of some writers we find that this has changed during the past few decades.
For example, Carl Sagan makes the point “critical thinking, without creative and intuitive insights, without the search for new patterns, is sterile and doomed. To solve complex problems requires the activity of both cerebral hemispheres; the path to the future lies through the corpus callosum.”
The author, Peter Spink, describes how there is some evidence to suggest that many more children today need “an entirely new approach to learning” and he adds that a methodology which does not relate to the intuitive faculties should be rejected.
In his fascinating book “Emotional Intelligence” New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman argues that our IQ-idolizing view of intelligence is far too narrow. Instead, Goleman makes the case for “emotional intelligence” being the strongest indicator of human success. He includes in his definition of emotional intelligence self-awareness, personal motivation, and empathy. His book examines scientific data emerging from studies using new brain imaging technologies. Such data assists us in understanding of how emotions work.
Goleman also touches on the universal adoption of educational curricula that teach youngsters how to regulate their emotional responses and to resolve conflict peacefully. Implicit in this statement is that we need to educate the affective as well the cognitive. He adds that regeneration of society is possible if this type of education occurred. This well-researched work persuades us that we need to re-examine teaching practices and for us to teach our children an important lesson: humanity lies in our feelings, not our facts.
Breaking of the genetic code
Jane Healy in her book “Endangered Minds” similarly draws upon the latest neuropsychological research and also includes an analysis of current educational practices. She points how we are gradually learning what is needed in order for children to develop in the way nature intended.
She describes that with the breaking of the genetic code educators should be able to customize factual evidence for each individual child. Let us take a more detailed examination of some of her descriptions.
Healy describes that we know that the axons or output parts of neurons gradually develop a coating of a waxy substance called myelin, which insulates the wiring and facilitates rapid and clear transmission.
Growth and development of myelin
At birth, only the most primitive systems, such as those needed for sucking, have been coated with myelin, or myelinated. Myelin continues to develop slowly all during childhood and adolescence in a gradual progression from lower-to higher-level systems. Its growth corresponds and runs parallel to the ability to use increasingly higher-level mental abilities.
The process of mylenation in human brains is not completed at least until most of us are in our twenties and may continue even longer. While animal studies have shown that total myelin may reflect levels of stimulation, scientists believe its order of development is mainly predetermined by a genetic system.
While the system, overall, is remarkably responsive to stimulation from the environment, the schedule of myelination appears to put some boundaries around ‘appropriate’ forms of learning at any given age. Before we go on to consider the exciting implications of the fact that environments can make brains grow, we should stop for a moment to discuss some potential hazard in trying too hard to ‘make’ intelligence or learning happen.
Some of the skill deficits of today’s schoolchildren, in fact, may have resulted from academic demands that were wrong – either in content or in mode of presentation – for their level of development. We, therefore, need to create lessons that result in the balanced growth in the coating of myelin of all related neurotransmitters. It all sounds very simple and it is.
What is surprising is that those making the decisions, nearly always politicians, implement policies that for the most part produce the opposite results from those desired!
Stanley I. Greenspan and T. Berry Brazelton
Stanley I. Greenspan is the USA’s most influential child psychiatrist and is coauthor of “The Growth of the Mind: And the Endangered Origins of Intelligence.” He maintains that until educators learn how to foster the individual child’s emotional growth they will continue to short-change the future of our country. He adds weight to recent efforts to legitimize early emotions as something far more than elements of a rich but unproductive fantasy life. His descriptions also reveals the missing link between neuroscience and the qualities that make us fully human including that impersonal technologies may interrupt the natural development of children.
Greenspan joins with T. Berry Brazelton, one of the world’s most respected paediatricians, to offer parents, teachers, and policymakers clear-cut guidelines for rearing healthy, well-nurtured children. In their book “The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and Flourish” they share the mutually strong conviction that society, and education in particular, is not currently meeting the basic needs of children. They describe the very high toll that society suffers if the right type of emotional growth does not occur.
These are some indications of why it is imperative that education needs to be using content and methodology that relates to the affective (emotional intelligence) as well as the cognitive side of childrens’ nature. Sadly, for the most part, institutional education is an enormous monolithic structure unresponding and rigid in the majority of situations. The changes that are urgently needed will be disseminated from this structure in a fragmented manner if at all.
Add to this the politicisation of education policy making decisions has as occurred in the USA and UK in the last few decades, and one does have a recipe for disaster. There is a simple and easy answer. It is to give teachers the tools, namely lessons, which they can use to educate the affective (emotional intelligence) as well as the cognitive and also the freedom to make the hundreds of classroom decisions each day that are necessary in order to optimise childrens’ learning.
In this perspective it is not difficult to find teaching strategies that together with content and methodology educate both emotional and intellectual intelligence. Through such teaching educators will, at the very least, not violate the fundamental principle of cerebral functioning. In doing so they will achieve the optimisation of children’s thinking along integrative patterns.
The following describes a model through which such optimisation could occur.
A Possible Model for the Future
Divide education into three distinct areas by answering three questions, “Why is it taught?”, “What is taught?” and “How is it taught?”
In answer to the first question, “Why is it taught?” many educators and psychologists have described various stages through which a child develops. Probably the most well known is Piaget, but Bruner and Erikson are others. The stages of development described by Erikson and Piaget indicate areas of agreement.
These stages are accepted by the majority of educators. The problem is that the major educational decisions are made on a political basis not an educational one. Also that the people making these decisions ignore the findings of these respected figures who have made their life study how we grow and develop.
The second question, “What is taught?” requires content or curriculum. If we accept the stages described by Bruner, Erikson and Piaget it follows that we should formulate content that is appropriate for each stage of development. It follows that the time for teaching subject areas is determined by the stage of “all round development” (which includes both affective and intellectual understanding), and not simply by the stage of cognitive development.
It is not merely a question of “are these children ready to learn this?” but more a question of “what will feed the inner nature of the child at this stage of development?”
To answer the third question, “How is it taught?” we need a methodology of teaching. Our approach suggests the ways in which various subject areas should be presented to children, and it offers guidelines on how the school day should be structured.
Some of this is based on an examination of the personality or temperament of children and teacher, and encourages teachers to prepare their lessons so as to appeal to children of different temperaments. Some is based on the acknowledgement that a child is not a miniature adult, but lives in a world that has a unique quality.
Teaching therefore needs to follow a path through this world, starting in the imaginative and creative realm, moving to action and practical expression, and finally reaching the cognitive. In doing so it is a methodology that takes into account left and right hand brain activity. By using such a model, it is not difficult to formulate content that relates to the stages so described. An overview of content areas and how they can relate to different stages now follows.
We send our children to school to learn. In the past almost the total emphasis was on content. Children went to school to absorb and learn a great deal of information. In recent times teachers, although not politicians or administrators, appreciate that the emphasis has started to change and many would now consider that education is not only concerned with the transmission of knowledge but should also help children to develop in a number of other areas.
These areas would include the social and psychological, but also the development of the affective, creative and imaginative. In modern terminology, many of the descriptions given to this growth would refer to right as well as left hand brain activity.
Teachers who base their teaching on nurturing the creative, artistic and imaginative appreciate this holistic approach when dealing with various areas of childrens’ development. The results of these determinants mean that curricula should be formulated so that it relates to these different aspects of growth.
The curriculum described possesses unique structures which offer child centred content and methodology. As stated above many educators and psychologists describe different theories of child development. The approach described not only offers such a theory but also describes in detail content and curriculum which directly relates to that theory. The aims of our curricula and how content in the different subject areas relates to stages of development follows.
1. The Aims of Curricula
The main aims of the elementary school curricula are to encourage:
a) breadth in learning rather than narrow and specialized subject matter;
b) the involvement of all facets of children’s inner experience, so that different types of thinking can be developed (for this to happen the content should be attractive to as many of these facets as possible);
c) an emphasis on the needs and interest of children rather than the needs and interest of society;
d) the linking of all content matter to childrens’ stage of development.
a) Breadth in Learning
The curriculum aims to retain a broad base of subject areas throughout the elementary school (and in high school). However, “breadth of learning” is not only confined to this broad base of subjects; it also applies to the ways in which teaching within the subject areas is approached. On many occasions a thematic approach is more appropriate than a subject based one, particularly at the lower age range of the elementary school.
This approach is not accidental. Content, if it is to have any real meaning for children, must relate to inner experience. Presenting content within narrowly defined subject areas is not only artificial but can harm. For example, if a topic is to be taken in geography, it needs, initially, to incorporate an historical perspective, a social aspect, an element of natural history and so on. Ignoring these other aspects is also ignoring the experience of children for they naturally do not compartmentalize knowledge.
However, as children move into the higher grades they need to gradually make the transition to the subject based curriculum. This begins to happen at around ten and continues and expands until high school. This does not mean, however, that all lessons timetabled in the latter years of elementary school are necessarily taught from a subject based approach. A thematic approach will be suitable on many occasions. In addition the teacher will still, even where a subject based approach is used, include material which is relevant to the creative and artistic.
b) Content and Childrens’ Inner Experience
It is generally accepted that childrens’ individual experiences play an important part in the learning process. However, we need to appreciate that whereas an adult’s thinking follows, or attempts to follow, certain logical patterns which can be described in terms of reasoning, the thinking of elementary school children is different. Children are not miniature adults and it is damaging to them to treat them as such, particularly when they think in a pictorial form which we, as adults, have lost to a great extent.
Adults are able to theorize and think abstractly; children immediately place the information they receive in a totally different context.
Children, to a far greater extent, form pictorial images where the imagination plays an influential and determining role. Whereas adults form mental concepts, children’s thought processes are composed of images and mental pictures. Needless to say but total emphasis on short term memory recall as dictated by NCLB and also by politicians in UK, USA and present day New Zealand, will cause damage to those thought processes.
In addition, the propensity to think pictorially is also uncritical. Children wish to believe what they are told. They expect adults to know the answers to their questions and they expect those answers to be true. Children give their teacher their trust as a matter of course, and in return they expect, instinctively, to receive wisdom and authority.
Not only do children expect their teacher to fulfil this role of sage but they demand almost omnipotent power from their teacher. How many times have we heard young children bring into, or even end, an argument with the statement, “Well my teacher said so”? The responsibility remains, therefore, to satisfy this need, while at the same time preparing them for the next stage of development.
Children’s thinking as well as being pictorial and uncritical is also unspecialised. Whereas the adult is predisposed to compartmentalize knowledge, children naturally take an holistic view of the world. Much of the time they feel at unity with the world. This means that, wherever possible, teaching should occur from the whole to the parts.
One of the aims of the curriculum is to allow children to gently and gradually adjust to the outside world; to proceed from involvement in action, through feeling to knowledge. This would include the transition from living to non-living and from unity to dispersal.
Many aspects of our approach could, in modern terminology, be described as relating to hemispheric development, or more specifically, to the balance between right and left hand brain activity.
There is more than ample evidence available to indicate that, if children are going to develop to their fullest potential, the educational process needs to relate to the creative, imaginative and artistic as well as the theoretical and cognitive. Part of this process is to acknowledge different types of thinking. An education which concerns itself with a purely cognitive approach is by its nature, sterile. The recognition of intuitive thinking is happening more and more in today’s world and many educators are sympathetic to this trend.
c) Needs and Interests
The changes that occur in present day society are, in many areas, rapid and of some magnitude. The relationship of education to the particular social milieu in which children grow up in is complicated and dynamic. Obviously any particular social environment will influence the contents of the curriculum, although it should be added that that determinant will have a far greater influence at high school level than at elementary level.
The approach described is child centred and as such considers that education relates to the social, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing of children, as well as to the intellectual and cognitive.
Society has every right to make demands that children should learn particular content, but it is held that such content needs to relate to the experience of children. If any conflict arises, the needs of children will usually be of a higher priority than those of society.
This does not mean an approach which lets children indulge in their every whim or fancy, or lets them, for example, have freedom to choose what they want to study or when they want to work. However, it does mean that the approach needs to be child centred. If we relate content to their experience they will learn far more easily.
If, on the other hand, we decide that the needs of society are paramount we shall create barriers to the learning process. In some ways we have as much to learn by teaching children as they have in learning from us. In doing so, the needs of society will be satisfied but not at the expense of childrens’ wellbeing.
d) Stages of Development
It is important that content should relate to the stage of development. The stages which are dealt with in this presentation are 6+ to 8+ : 9+ : 10+/11+ and 12+/13+. Children possess certain qualities at each stage; in other words their experience of themselves and the outside world differs as they reach certain phases of growth. The transition from one phase to the next is very gradual. It takes many months or longer; it follows that content should relate to the different type of consciousness at whatever phase the child is at.
2) Content and Stages of Development
6+ to 8+
At around the age of 7 a significant change occurs; the child moves from a consciousness which is predominantly one immersed in action to one where the affective life becomes paramount. For the most part they feel no separation from nature and the world that surrounds them (a quality retained from very early childhood). Therefore, the content of the curriculum should reflect this.
Story content which includes legends, folk tales and fables from many cultures feed this life of feeling. Children relate, through their feeling life, to many archetypal characters found in such stories. Similarly, care needs to be taken in the way in which themes from the natural world are introduced. Children, particularly at the lower age range, will almost certainly endow animals, plants and minerals with human feelings.
At the child nears 9 a change of emphasis occurs, and they not only become more aware of the outside world but also involved with it; subject matter reflects this involvement. Between 6 and 7 children learn about part of their own individuality through the affective and emotional side of their nature. Children experience contrasting moods whether they are of joy or sorrow or, in extreme case, of love and hate.
As children experience such conflicting emotions, the school situation can prove beneficial and therapeutic. Content can be formulated so children can feel and understand these emotions; in so doing education becomes a true art form.
Many educators will relate to this approach in subject areas where the creative and artistic element is definable and understood. For example, in art and music; in stories, drama and history. But this artistic element needs to be an integral part of other subject areas which are usually regarded as academic, for example, mathematics, English and so on.
Children also want to experience the outside world, and their relationship to it, through rhythms that correspond to their own rhythmic system. In doing so there needs to be a balance between absorption of new experiences and the expression of inner experience. There should be a continual interplay between the breathing in of new experiences and the breathing out of different activities.
Between the ages of nine and ten, children’s perceptions of themselves and the outside world change. No longer is their inner world at one with the outer world. They begin to perceive their own individuality as separate from the world. This process can be uncomfortable or painful at times and children, according to their temperament, will handle such situations quite differently. For example, some might well withdraw; others become assertive or even aggressive.
Children, in their tenth year, are aware of their own individuality in a different way than previously. Part of the curriculum needs to relate to this “new” experience; in essence feeding and nurturing the new kind of awareness. This may be far more important than content that is formulated so as to develop only one aspect of a child’s nature viz. the intellect.
For example, much of the content in the study of “Man and Animal” in grade 4 is formulated so that it specifically relates to the nature of such changes. Similarly various mythologies are ideal story content for this age. All the various mythologies have their special characteristics which differ so much in feeling and mood.
Between ten and twelve is usually a period of relative peace. Hopefully the child came through the adjustments of 9 and 10 without too much difficulty, and there should follow a period of only minor adjustments.
The child needs this period of relative calm as towards the end of this time the pre-pubertal storms will start to gather. In many instances there develops a sensitivity which brings parent and child far closer together.
The rising 12 year old is now showing greater awareness of cause and effect in quite different ways to that of the 9 or 10 year old. It is important, therefore, that this new quality is recognized and handled with care through curriculum content.
It is far better if one relates to this development, first through living concepts and only later through mechanical ones. That is why, for example, the subject of botany is established a year before physics, so that causality in nature can be handled before causality in the material world.
This is a period of approaching change. When children entered elementary school they gradually moved from “willing consciousness” to “feeling consciousness”. At the time they are leaving the 8th Grade (13+) they are moving from the realm of feeling into the realm dominated by thinking. It is now possible for children to start handling far more abstract ideas, although again care must be taken to see that the subject matter is introduced in the right way.
For example, in the sciences, the introduction of new concepts should be through observation with strong artistic input. Only then should the theoretical be introduced. There is greater value in acquiring knowledge based on individual perception and observation than in a process where the development of observation has been neglected.
One of the main adjustments to make when examining our curriculum is to appreciate that we consider the process of education as an art. It is a dynamic process and the teacher who uses the curriculum will appreciate the way in which they “tap in” to their own creative ability. Teachers must have freedom to do this. Obviously, policies implemented in UK, USA and now New Zealand are the opposite of what is required.
Although teachers are provided with detailed guidelines concerning the ways in which content relates to the different stages and the way it is structured, they have complete freedom to formulate content and methodology within the guidelines described. It is the teacher who knows the weaknesses and strengths of each individual child and the class as a whole. It is only he or she who should be responsible for choosing individual content.
We offer our theory of child development and content and methodology of teaching, not in a dogmatic way but as guidelines which allow all teachers to use their knowledge, experience and creativity. In doing so education becomes a true art and he encouraged teachers to approach their task with freedom and confidence.
Many teachers will no doubt feel some trepidation at what might be termed a considerable “paradigm shift”. Once such a shift occurs however, and teachers starts getting in touch with their creative forces, they will find the teaching process much easier. They will also find many children responding in a way they hardly thought possible, and teaching can become far more enjoyable and satisfying for both student and teacher.
Efficient Administrative Structures
Finally, we need to examine the most efficient administrative structure for implementing policies that will optimise childrens’ wellbeing and learning. However, we should establish that whatever administrative structure is in place, the most important principle, as already previously described, is that the more power we give teachers the more their children achieve. The less power we give them the less they achieve.
Unsurprisingly, countries that give their teachers such freedom come top (namely Finland and formerly New Zealand – although the present New Zealand government is now implementing policies similar to those in the UK and USA) in the PISA rankings while countries that do the opposite (namely UK and USA) are way down in the PISA league rankings.
We shall examine the pre-2010 New Zealand education administrative structure. In New Zealand, schools, although funded by the government, are run as a cooperative venture between parents and teachers with the Ministry of Education issuing guidelines.
Even so, a recent survey of parents concluded that 76 percent of parents think schools should be permitted to specialize in particular subject areas or sport if they choose to do so and 84 percent of parents believe that individual schools should be allowed to teach their individual community’s positive ideas. Only 30 percent of parents believe the Ministry of Education should decide what their children learn in school. How did New Zealand reach this point?
New Zealand Administrative Structure
The Picot Commission was set up by the New Zealand government in 1987. At that time schools came under different school districts based on different local authority areas something akin to the USA system,. The Picot Commission recommended doing away with this structure. Each school was to be community based and have its own charter. It was to be run by a Board of Trustees (usually five) each of which had to be a parent of a child attending that particular school together with the Principal and a trustee elected by the school staff. The Board could co-opt other persons to the Board on a temporary basis if they required certain expertise.
The Board establishes a Charter, a type of contract where the Board undertakes to the Minister to take all reasonable steps to administer the school in accordance with the purposes contained in the charter. Boards are required to update their charters annually and also to provide annual reports on how well they have achieved against their charter goals and to account for their spending of public money.
Teachers’ salaries would still be paid on a national basis through the Ministry of Education. Educational Review Officers (EROs) were established (something akin to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools in the UK) to oversee the whole system. Numerous layers of administration became superfluous including about half the Ministry of Education!
The funds were given to school directly and they could hire (together with other schools if this was appropriate) whatever consultants they needed on a needs basis. New Zealand Ministry of Education issues a set of national administration guidelines that provide a framework within which school boards need to operate. It also has a national qualifications system and it was agreed that a national examination structure should still exist for students reaching the end of high school.
Even today when most of the developed world is obsessed with testing students of all ages the New Zealand Ministry of Education up until 2010 fully appreciated that learning patterns can be different, “Successful outcomes for all students require a range of learning pathways. One size does not fit all. Children arrive at school with different early childhood experiences and different levels of development. How students learn, the pace at which they learn and their interests vary between individuals. These differences are recognized, to an extent, through the current system.
This gives teachers and schools responsibility for organizational and teaching decisions and through provision for immersion learning and designated character schools. However, the current system needs to continually look for ways to provide flexible pathways, especially for learners with diverse needs.”
from Ministry of Education, Statement of Intent, 2003-2008, Building Learning Pathways.
However, the present New Zealand government implemented in 2010 policies that will lessen the freedom of teachers. This is discussed separately in another chapter. However, from the viewpoint of successful or unsuccessful policies, such a direction can only result, from the perspective of international rankings, in New Zealand achieving poorer results and slipping down league tables.
If interested, Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) and WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) produces Teaching Packs that are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands. Original material is the Mollet Learning Academy (MLA) Teaching Packs (written initially for New Zealand teachers). On request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added and renamed WER Teaching Packs to distinguish them from MLA Teaching Packs. All lessons are designed to appeal to the heart, head and hands.
Business Plan at http://molletlearningacademy.com/corporate/MLABusinessPlan.pdf
For overall content of Ancient Civilisations please click
Program Overview Ancient Civilisations
For overall content of Ancient Kush please click Program Overview Kush
For overall content of History of California please click
Overview Teachers Handbook CA
For overall content re improving reading and language skills through history please click Overview Reading History
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
mathematics please click Overview Teaching Math
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching
fractions please click Fractions Teacher Handbook
For overall content re MLA approach to teaching multiplication tables please click Multiplication Tables Teachers Handbook
Previous PowerPoint presentations converted to pdfs for wordpress
Ancient China P_China
Ancient Egypt P_Egypt
Ancient Greece P_Greece
Ancient India P_India
Ancient Israelites P_Israelites
Ancient Kush P_Kush
Early Humankind/Prehistory P_Prehistory
Ancient Rome P_Rome
The following free sample lessons (sorry limit one at present) are available in this order: Ancient Civilisations (Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient India, Ancient Kush, Ancient Israelites, Ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Prehistory/Early Humankind), Fractions, Multiplication Tables, History of California, See below titles for descriptions.
Ancient China (Lessons 4/5 of Module 2)
Mathematics, Counting Rods and Chinese Abacus
Ancient Egypt (Lesson 3 of Module 3)
Papyrus – how it is made, activities etc
Ancient Greece (Lesson 1 of Module 2)
Story “Parrhasius and Helena”, Guided Reading,
The Court of Law, Simulate an Athenian Court of Law.
Ancient India (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“Asoka and the Mauryan Empire,” “India’s National Emblem,”
Assessment Rubric for India’s National Emblem,
Ancient Kush (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
Story “Expedition to Jebel Barkal,” “Jebel Barkal: A Poem,”
Guided Reading, Review Exercises
Ancient Israelites (Lesson 2 of Module 1)
Story “Abraham,” Father of a Nation, Guided Reading
Ancient Rome (Lesson 3 of Module 2)
“The people of Rome speak out,” Story “Julius Caesar,”
Crossing the Rubicon, Guided Reading
Mesopotamia (Lesson 4 of Module 3)
Story “Gilgamesh,” “The Death of Enkidu.”
Prehistory/Early Humankind (Lesson 2 of Module 2)
The Crô-Magnons including story “The Lascaux Caves”,
Guided Reading and “The Cave Paintings at Altmira.”
Fractions SubUnit 3.4 Drama: A Tale of Fractions
A free lesson/drama involving students in a drama about the Pied Piper of Hamelin
Multiplication Tables SubUnit 3.7 Ten Times Table: Mr. Pickles
A free lesson, activities, story, game/, patterns,
cooperative learning activities about the ten times table
History of California Lesson 5.6 The Gold Rush: Part 1
A free lesson describing the background of the gold rush and life in the gold fields
For video clips please see
McLaren Rd talk
Be the ONE who listens
Since advent of social media all material is now in pdf format (no postage or processing fee). Physical copies (postage/processing fees apply) can be provided at additional cost – please contact MLA.
Each SubUnit (not Unit) costs USA $19.95 NZ $24.95
(This price includes permission to photocopy)
1. The MLA approach to education believes in developing the creative and imaginative side of the student in harmony with the intellectual and cognitive. To achieve this, MLA Teaching Packs make stories and drama an integral part of the lessons and involve students through storytelling, art, simulations, drama, craft, discussion and creation of a personal record.
3. In a MLA Teaching Pack you will find teacher guidelines, stories providing an in-depth experience, information sheets presented in an interesting and stimulating format, activity sheets, suggestions for further research, maps with related activities, questions for discussion and assessment, dramas for class/school performance, guidance for the student’s personal record or portfolio, a variety of review exercises and contents designed and structured for authentic assessment
4. For an explanation of the philosophy behind the writing of these packs click here
(David Mollet’s HomePage)
5. If you are interested in how your students can work with top quality papyrus (imported from Egypt) click here.
6. We have also customized our material for USA public schools. This material includes monitoring and assessment procedures for students some of which are not based on the MLA approach.
7. Information on workshops/presentations for introducing the MLA approach into public schools available at: here (WideHorizon) and here (Waldorf))
8. Click here to read what teachers think about our lessons/newsletters.
“These resource packs contain unbound, ready-to-use reproducible masters, that are varied, simple, and appealing to students. The interactive strategies suggested are suitable for independent, small-group, and whole-class assignments.”
(Grade 6 Course Models – California State Department of Education)
9. Click here to go to author’s experiences in the Waldorf world.
10. Click here for details of on-line courses accredited by San Diego State University.
Dr. David Mollet email@example.com
NZ: h 09-555-2021 m 022-101-1741, 41 Hilling St, Titirangi, Auckland 0604
USA: 619-463-1270, 6656 Reservoir Lane, San Diego, CA 92115 (Skype waldorfedu)
1) The material was initially written for New Zealand teachers but on request from USA teachers, monitoring and assessment procedures were added. To view this material please visit https://molletacademy.com/
WideHorizon Education Resources (WER) https://molletacademy.com/widehorizon-2/ Waldorf Education Resources (WER) https://molletacademy.com/waldorf/
2) MLA is also involved in researching on an international basis, what works and what doesn’t work. Most of the research results can be seen at https://molletacademy.com/research-reports/ while a draft of a book The Task for New Zealand Education is at https://molletacademy.com/the-task-for-nz-education/
3) Blogs at http://www.molletlearningacademy.blogspot.co.nz/
4) Business Plan at http://molletlearningacademy.com/corporate/MLABusinessPlan.pdf
5) Papyrus https://molletacademy.com/papyrus/