New Zealand Education — R I P

Before we begin.

Please read this evaluation of “critical pedagogy”. The article won’t make much sense unless you do.

And when you have finished please return.

Has the New Zealand education system been hijacked by capitalism?

What`s apparent to me is that the ideology of education in New Zealand is regressive. I know. That’s a big statement, but it has to be said. The problem in New Zealand is how we think, how we are taught to think, and our education system. The government, schools and teachers are capitalistic in nature. And nothing else.

New Zealand languishes in the 1980`s. It is not self-critical and does not view education from the perspective of a multiculturalist. It views education from the limited perspective of white privilege. Hence, critical thinking is side tracked. There is none. And that`s essentially why we see a broad range of problems across our society. Indeed, all of the colonised western societies share similar traits, alongside the UK. They are dominated by thinking about as creative and insightful as our good friends Turnbull, Abbott, May, Blair, Bush, Obama, Trump or Clinton. They`re all the same.

Critical thought requires social change, activism, and connection to society.

Henry, Barry, Hosking, do not have a critical multicultural mindset. Key, English, Joyce, Parata are the same. As you may have noticed, these people are everywhere. They`re on the news, radio, in our schools, our councils, rugby clubs, and of course in our government.

Richie McCaw is a paragon of the New Zealand mindset. We view him as a leader, who epitomizes everything we want to be, where in reality, he is a very good rugby player, fullstop. A rugby player who supports TPP. Who is happy to be politicized alongside a narcissistic sociopath like John Key.

And we create these icons, through our education system. By teaching our children the parameters we judge ourselves by. We provide social identity to New Zealand children through competition, sport, and the idea that success is winning, at any expense.

Sport plays a huge role in New Zealand society. Winning a rugby game against Australia is a national preoccupation. If we lose, it`s a national embrarrassment. There is no perspective here. It`s completely blown out of proportion by our education systems, and manifests itself throughout our society. Competition, and winning are capitalistic constructs. When in reality, failure is how we grow and learn. And winning is how we divide and separate.

At the recent EdchatNZ conference I saw no mention of voice, power, culture, and ideology. Indeed I saw Google, I saw Agile Learning (tech based iteration), and I saw words like “choice”. Critical thinking may have been mentioned, I don`t know. And I stand to be corrected. But, I am confident that the ideology of a teacher, the significance of voice, the connection to power and post-modernist education was probably overlooked. Understandingly, because critical pedagogy is not high on the political agenda. “They” don`t want teachers to think about ideology. Indeed, teachers are by and large treated as drones. Stephen Hicks, a philosopher explains it like so.

“In education, postmodernism rejects the notion that the purpose of education is primarily to train a child’s cognitive capacity for reason in order to produce an adult capable of functioning independently in the world. That view of education is replaced with the view that education is to take an essentially indeterminate being and give it a social identity. Education’s method of molding is linguistic, and so the language to be used is that which will create a human being sensitive to its racial, sexual, and class identity. Our current social context, however, is characterized by oppression that benefits whites, males, and the rich at the expense of everyone else. That oppression in turn leads to an educational system that reflects only or primarily the interests of those in positions of power. To counteract that bias, educational practice must be recast totally. Postmodern education should emphasize works not in the canon; it should focus on the achievements of non-whites, females, and the poor; it should highlight the historical crimes of whites, males, and the rich; and it should teach students that science’s method has no better claim to yielding truth than any other method and, accordingly, that students should be equally receptive to alternative ways of knowing.”

So, I argue that the New Zealand education system has been hijacked by capitalism. Visit your local charter school for evidence. Or examine the situation with decile based schooling, it`s connection to real estate, wealth and poverty. Or address the issue of teachers leaving the education system for better paid positions in corporates. Being squeezed out of education due to the high cost of real estate, and increasing income disparities between rich and poor.

Personally, I live inside the capitalistic culture of education every single day. I teach “scripted” lessons, like a robot, which is the ideology behind 21st Century education systems run by profiteers. They want programmable voices, spouting information defined through algorithims, which support the ideology of a capitalist. Education for profit, is not critical pedagogy, it`s the antithesis.

Or you might want to look at the corporate surveillance systems within the education systems, data collation, and privacy issues. Certainly, the question of student privacy remains unaddressed and the government, alongside corporates collect data, use it and share it so they can predict what you will think, before you think it.

And you may want to examine predictive policing. The method the NZ Government is enacting now. By collating social media data, they claim, they can predict who will commit the next crime, at the expense of your freedom and privacy. And we permit it. Teachers permit it, and unknowingly condone it. Because, they do not address these questions in the classroom, or engage students in true critical thinking and problem solving.

Or, the big one. Why don`t teachers, and Education New Zealand address the question of ethics and climate? Why are we destroying our rivers for profit? Why are we fracking? Is it ethical? Students must be engaged in these questions, and they must be taught to collaboratively solve these issues, multiculturally. To have voice, to be integrated into our culture as citizens with the power to change from the perspective of a Chinese, Maori, black, white, rich or poor Kiwi, with equal footing. If we don`t do this, and allow the white capitalistic distemper to continue, we will dig a hole from which we will never surface.

Time is critical. If you are a teacher reading this, then please act. Critical pedagogy is not just activist in nature, it is also creative, enterprizing and rich in diversity. It brings an impoverished child into the world brimming with energy and confidence. It treats everyone with equal power, voice, culture and identity. New Zealand teachers must stand up and fight the oppressors. Fight for our culture, identity, rivers, trees, birds and people. We are responsible. Please make it your priority. Enjoy it, have fun, ask the big questions, challenge and reject authority, and through the process, empower yourself and your students.