I heard Andy Hargreaves speak at the ACEL conference in Sydney last year and was impressed with his candor about governments setting what seemed to be easy targets for schools. I thought his point was that governments in Australia were overly obsessive with literacy targets given that we were ranked 5 in OECD countries on the Pisa test for literacy. I also remember giving a colleague a tour of the school a few years ago and his comment to me on our school’s strategic direction was that we were fortunate given our school’s higher socio economic background status and the associated higher standards in literacy not be obsessed with literacy targets.
In fact we do have literacy targets – non fiction writing and the language and spelling associated with these genre is a target however we also have had inquiry learning as a target for the past 4 years. Why? I think it started out as curriculum coordination issue for teachers however after reading Andy’s article: Data Driven To Distraction and reflecting upon our changing cohort of students its now become clear that the learning gap that is growing is between those working class families who cannot afford the enriched and enlarged sets of learning experiences that the privileged enjoy. Inquiry learning as a target goes beyond the literacy and numeracy benchmarks that even I occasionally fixate on particularly around state wide test time and explores the issues that exist within children’s worlds.
I remember Andy’s words parting words saying something like we owe all our children the right to explore the burning issues of the day [melting polar caps] as well as the skills needed in the information age of the 21st century.