November 29, 2009
Peter Robinson must think all unionists are educationally disadvantaged. Otherwise he would have thought through his proposal to allow decisions of the Executive, such as on education, to be taken by any three parties. S(election) at 14 has been once again floated by the educationalists including the DENI’s favourite, Professor Tony Gallagher and all the main churches. Since the Catholic Church have found themselves, once again, unable to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on the sexual abuse of young people by their clerics it must have crossed the minds of those, aware enough to appreciate that they have a virtual monopoly on the education of Catholic children, that there may be a link.
If this is Peter Robinson and the DUP’s idea of getting out of jail free on the academic selection at 11 problem they have little concept of the pending backlash. Be careful what you wish for is the best advice PACE can give their educationally and strategy disadvantaged politicians.
May 21, 2009
A Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Mernagh, has called for a world wide Day of Atonement over the systemic abuse of children in residential institutions throughout Ireland by Catholic religious and lay members.
Visit the site. http://www.kandle.ie/2009/01/23/atonement-walk/
Victims have described the Ryan Report as ” a whitewash”
The same Catholic Church in Ireland have imposed their vision for education in the 21st century.
Discerning observers throughout Ireland will raise doubts over the Church’s current ability to reliably preside over the care of children.
May 1, 2009
In her latest attempt to cajole and bully parents into compliance with her “guidance” Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane uses another compliant group of Catholic principals to reinforce her/their mistaken view.
Education Minister Caitríona Ruane said schools should follow her Department’s guidance and not set their own tests.
“It is obvious that the grammars have not considered the needs of primary six children or the impacts these unvalidated tests will have on them, but are more interested in simply preserving the archaic system of academic selection,” she said.
“I would urge all parents to carefully consider the statement from the primary principals which sets out the flaws with the proposed breakaway tests. If schools follow the Transfer 2010 guidance children need not be subjected to any tests.”
Perhaps Ms Ruane has failed to read her own Equality Impact Assessment. It admits discrimination against Protestants and non-Catholics and is therefore illegal under equality legislation.
Her consultation on the EIA is therefore a waste of public funds.
When will she ever learn?
February 25, 2009
No high quality study in education research has ever established that inclusive education is best delivered through child-centered pedagogy.
Selection or Selection Fortnight Magazine No 463 Dec 08/Jan 09
Carefully designed and evaluated studies have demonstrated that such child-centered curricula are particularly damagin to the poor.
Donald Myers who was charged with evaluating the impact of child-centered curricula in the United States shares PACE’s concern about educationalists.
The time has come in American education when teachers should stage a walkout when education evangelists propose innovations which have not been validated by careful research over a long period of time. Instead of being paid and applauded, these hucksters should be sent packing and should be thankful that they are not jailed as would representatives of a pharmaceutical house for dispensing a drug before it has been tested.
Donald Myers quoted in Left Back by Diane Ravitch 2000
The reforms proposed for Northern Ireland schools are addressed in two highly regarded studies – one centred on assessment, the other on curriculum – and both draw the same unequivocal conclusion which should interest the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein: the poor will lose out dramatically if Sinn Fein have their way. This has already been hinted at in research on the early years “Enriched Curriculum” in Northern Ireland, where a “Matthew Effect” was identified; in progressive curricula – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Notice how all reference to this work is avoided by the empty vessels insisting on changing the education system for the 21st century. If they are not careful they will be into the 22nd century before coming up with evidence based validation of their proposals.
February 22, 2009
Fortnight Magazine interviewed the Minister for Education about her mission to destroy the principal of academic selection. Illustrating the ease with witch educationalists remain unchallenged by journalists Chris Moffat for Fortnight Magazine opens with the following:
Whatever your point of view, you have to acknowledge that with her record as a human rights campaigner, equality and fairness have to be the priority for Caitriona Ruane. After a career of human rights activism in Nicaragua, Dublin and West Belfast, how could she not conclude that academic selection is ‘wrong, unfair and unjust’?
Perhaps Chris Moffat of Fortnight Magazine didn’t carry out any fact checking prior to or after the interview in which case he would have discovered the Minister’s proclivity for hypocrisy.
The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education make the case for parental suspicion and scepticism of proposals from educationalists, including the Sinn Fein Minister.
Why have the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein got it in for the poor?
It seems that these days no public official can discuss education reform in Northern Ireland without referring to “educationlists.” The four Churches issued their recent statement after consulting extensively with “educationalists,” and Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd rarely completes a sentence without the word “educationist” cropping up. Who are these “educationalists” who seems to play such a fundamental role in determining the direction of policy in education reform?
The most likely candidates are the various professors of education at Queen’s University’s School of Education. The vast majority of these professors have never taught in a school but are social scientists, anthropologists or products of the ’s UNESCO Centre. (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) might, for example, insist that children have rights in respect of how they’re taught and assessed, but only those with direct experience of the classroom know the problems associated with implementing such progressive ideas. David Ackerman notes that although “progressivism is dominant in most schools of education, it is rejected in most high schools.”
UNESCO emphasises children’s rights and campaigns for “inclusive” child-centred education. UNESCO’s Salamanca Statement of 1994 uses the absolutist language of rights to require that the curriculum be designed around the child’s interests: “those with special educational needs must have access to regular schools, which should accommodate them within a child-centred pedagogy capable of meeting these needs.” Parents who feel left out of the debate on the future of academic selection, for instance, are probably unaware that Northern Ireland’s schools’ current focus on children’s rights and child-centred education effectively excludes them from the consultation process. (Why consult the parent when the curriculum already takes account of the interests of the child?) An examination of the early documentation which gave form to the Revised Curriculum reveals extensive consultation with “educationalists,” teachers and pupils, but almost no parental involvement.
Critics have also highlighted that UNESCO’s insistence on child-centred approaches owes more to evangelism than the outcomes of carefully designed large-scale studies. For example, no high quality study has established that inclusive education is best delivered though child-centred pedagogy. More worrying, carefully designed studies have demonstrated that such curricula are particularly damaging to the poor. In Left Back, published in 2000, quotes Donald Myers who was charged with evaluating the impact of child-centred curricula in the USA. Myers shares Ravitch’s concerns about “educationalists”:
“The time has come in American education,” he declared, “when teachers should stage a walkout when education evangelists” propose innovations that have not been validated by careful research over a long period of time. Instead of being paid and applauded, these hucksters should be sent packing and “should be thankful they are not jailed as would representatives of a pharmaceutical house for dispensing a drug before it has been tested.”
What if the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein were to take Myers’ advice and ignore our local “educationalists”? What do high quality studies that have been “validated by careful research over a long period of time” have to say? The reforms proposed for Northern Ireland schools are addressed in two highly regarded studies – one centred on assessment, the other on curriculum – and both draw the same unequivocal conclusion which should interest the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein: the poor will lose out dramatically if Sinn Fein have their way! This has already been hinted at in research on the early years “Enriched Curriculum” in Northern Ireland, where a “Matthew Effect” was identified; in progressive curricula – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
“ To give a sense of the scale of this study, it lasted 20 years, cost a billion dollars to fund, and involved 79,000 children from 180 low-income communities living in poverty. The conclusion was that the curriculum which helps children out of poverty is a traditional curriculum in which the teacher determines what is to be taught and children work in learning environments which are orderly and highly structured. (The reader can find details of this study by googling the words Project Follow Through.) The Revised Curriculum currently being implemented in Northern Ireland (the one the Minister is demanding that all primary school children must follow) was shown to be damaging to the development of the numeracy and literacy skills of disadvantaged children. ” is arguably the largest and most sophisticated educational project ever undertaken to discover, once and for all, the type of curriculum that maximizes the of the poor.
Richard Nadler noted that poor children taught by traditional methods, when compared to those following more progressive curricula, were “first in reading, first in math, first in spelling, and first in language. No other model came close.” No Northern Ireland “educationalist” seems to have directed the Catholic Church or Sinn Fein to this project, despite its strong association with the American Civil Rights movement. Siegfried Engelmann is not surprised: “Decision-makers don’t choose a plan because they know it works … They choose a plan because it’s consistent with their vision of what they think kids should do. Most educators, he says, seem to have a greater investment in romantic notions about children than they do in the gritty detail of actual practice or the fact that some things work well.”
Finally, turning to the Minister’s preference for election via Pupil Profile over selection via Again, a large scale, meticulously designed study (see “Inequality in the transition from primary to secondary school: school choices and educational disparities in Germany” by Marcus Pietsch and Tobias Stubbe, published in 2007 in the European Educational Research Journal) is at odds with the counsel offered by our local “educationalists.” Consider two children, one rich, one poor, both with a score of 542. Pietch and Stubbe (p. 437) show that these children will be treated as equals in a selective system but when a discussion between parent and teacher determines the poor child loses out: score, once again this aspect of reform damages rather than enhances the of the poor.
For a student with an average German reading achievement (542), the probability of attending a Gymnasium [German grammar school] is more than twice as high if his or her family are higher grade professionals (55.57%) than if they are semi-skilled manual workers (21.36%).
The lessons of the study for the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein are clear: a move from selection via test to election via Pupil Profile will result in a decline in the number of disadvantaged children attending grammar schools. Where a child from a poor background may have a test history greatly superior to that of a middle class child, the confusing, vague and ambiguous language of the Pupil Profile will allow the articulate middle class parent to “talk away” the difference in test scores. The Catholic Church and Sinn Fein should listen to that great communist champion of the poor, Antonio Gramsci, who argued, in his Prison Notebooks, that “the less objective the testing, the more the working-class child or peasant child would be at a disadvantage.”
January 22, 2008
Reform of Northern Ireland schools – another attack on all that Protestants hold dear?
It must surely puzzle outsiders that grammar schools of Protestant and Catholic ethos adopt opposite positions on selection at 11. The SDLP, Sinn Fein and the Catholic Church oppose selection and embrace the Revised Curriculum while the DUP and Ulster Unionists see a continued role for grammar schools. It is striking that there are no Catholic grammars among the 25 grammar schools who propose setting their own entrance tests in order to retain their grammar school identities. Furthermore, Catholic politicians and the Catholic Church have been staunch defenders of the Revised Curriculum which seeks to blur the distinctions between school subjects such as IT, mathematics and English through the introduction of incoherent “cross-curricular skills.” Recently the Irish News published a blistering attack on the 25 Protestant grammars who wish to retain selection at 11.
A careful reading of the work of Britain’s leading educational philosopher, John White, reveals that Protestant support for a curriculum comprising distinct subjects, with learning assessed through objective testing stretches back 150 years. According to White, curricula such as the Revised Curriculum, which eschew objective testing and blur the distinctions between the different school subjects, strike at the core values of Protestantism. Given that John White was commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) to evaluate the Revised Curriculum, senior figures in CCEA must have been aware that they were designing a curriculum at odds with a Protestant worldview. However, the evaluation report has never been made public and when it appears on CCEA documentation it is accompanied by the word “unpublished.”
CCEA’s Carmel Gallagher described reform of the curriculum as a “Trojan Horse” for effecting radical change in schools and the Education Minister drew parallels between the radical nature of school reform in Northern Ireland and the partition of Ireland. A cursory read of White’s latest book – Intelligence, Destiny and Education – may help explain the Catholic Church’s reluctance to sign up to the cause of maintaining Northern Ireland’s truly world class education system. More puzzling, in the light of White’s analysis, is the role of the Protestant churches in embracing the Revised Curriculum and the abolition of selection at 11.