Day One at Learning@School – New Zealand

Thanks to Blogmeister Maven, Tom Sheehan for this picture.  It looks like I was having a good time.  The truth is that I rearranged my slides earlier in the morning and for most of the presentation I had no idea what slide was going to appear next. 😉

I have so much to reflect on — so many amazing conversations.  I was engaged in one when suddenly my name came over the conference center intercom, directing me to the presentation I was supposed to be doing.  I’d completely lost track of time.  Probably has something to do with the date line.  Not sure though.  But things are certainly very interesting here.

One tid-bit is that they make a point and take great pride in the fact that teachers are respected as professionals here.  Curriculum (what and how learning happens) is largely determined at the classroom level.  Teachers are trusted as professionals, and it is clear to me as they talk in that same language that I’ve heard in Canada and Scotland, it’s a language of professionals.

I took a long walk this afternoon, taking some pictures of the flora and fauna of the Rotorua area, especially around the lake.  I’m very tired now, and beginning to wonder how much of tonights banquet I’m actually going to be able to remain awake for.  The big day is over, with the keynote and two presentations behind me.  I must say that the video games presentation is starting to come together.  I’ve found some ways to make it much more interactive, exploring the elements of gaming that are already happening in our classrooms.

I certainly do hope that I get to return to New Zealand again — although I must be careful.  I’ve already run into a number of people who vacationed here from the U.S. and never left.  It could certainly happen.

6 thoughts on “Day One at Learning@School – New Zealand”

  1. “Curriculum (what and how learning happens) is largely determined at the classroom level. ”

    A sure sign that teachers are respected as professionals.

    One of the reasons I didn’t stick around in formal education was the restrictions of national curriculum. As an experienced teacher, I felt confident of my ability to assess learner needs and address them. To make matters worse (at least in my experience) there was a requirement to teach to the test, which to my mind deprives the learner of a meaningful learning experience.

  2. Having spent 18 months in New Zealand as an expatriot, I can attest to the amazing beauty of the country and the strong pull it has for those of us who have spent extended periods of time there. I wonder how they are dealing with the strong pull young people in NZ feel to travel the world after completing their secondary schooling & how many do they lose who decide to make home in another country? (i.e. “the brain drain”)

    I’m thrilled to hear that the Kiwi’s have been blessed with the opportunity to hear your educational insights (as I was recently @ TRLD in San Francisco) and hope that the collaboration reaps sweet rewards.

    Have fun down under! I hope we get to see your NZ pics on Flickr?

  3. Just to let you know that you got clapped as the announcement for you to join us in the presentation came over the loud speaker.
    I enjoyed you keynote speech, very thought provoking, and to be honest I’m still processing it in terms of what it’ll mean for my classroom teaching. My kids were not even born in the 20th centuary let alone experience any of those happenings you mentioned. Thanks.
    We would also like to invite you into OUR wiki from the conference I hope will send you the proper details as she is the grand master of our wikispace, I just thought you’d like to take a pre-look

    Thanks for inspiring us here in NZ. Sorry I can’t make your other presentations. Enjoy your time here.

  4. I love that the teachers there are professionals and are treated as such. In fact that was my wish for the year for US teachers. The problem I find in my school district is that we do have some teachers who are professionals in every sense of the word and would do an outstanding job if left alone. On the other hand, we have a good many teachers who I wouldn’t call professionals who need to be poked, prodded and pressured to teach in a meaningful way. Because of the second group, our administration has put a lock down on curriculum and teachers are told they can not stray from the adopted curriculum. I am in a rural small school in a town of 16,000 and we just can’t draw in those great teachers, so we take what we can get. I don’t know what the solution is, but I think a start would be higher salaries, stricter admission standards and university curriculum, and somehow get rid of the notion that teaching is an easy job with summers off and lots of time for family – all you have to do is love kids.

  5. Dear Mr. Warlick:

    I had to respond to your comments how the people of New Zealand treat their teachers as professionals. It astounds me that somehow teachers in America don’t seem to receive the same respect. Individual universities as well as the United States government prides themselves in the high standards they set forth for existing and pre-service teachers. Teachers must prove themselves worthy of helping develop and expand the minds of young people through years of specialized education and training and yet the career is not viewed by some as a profession. However, everyone who has had that special teacher that encouraged him/her to break out, keep going, or dream bigger knows that teaching is one of the most respectable professions to name.

    Also, in regards to your comments on the curriculum, as a pre-service teacher, the idea of desinging the curriculum around the needs of the individual students or classrooom sounds ideal. However, I am curious to see how much flexibility I will actually be allowed while complying with the standards set forth for myself and my students. Life does seem to be one big balancing act, why should I expect my teaching career to be any different?

  6. Gone are the days when a teacher could haul out last year’s lesson plan for the section on X that the class is covering today. New lesson plan, new approach, new affordances… all of which may well change before the next class has the same lesson – which will not be the same at all!

    One of my colleagues has just returned from a week long residential Prince 2 course. She is exhausted, and everything she relates indicates that the teacher was more concerned with the curriculum than the learner experience, even to the point of flatly refusing to comply with direct requests from the learners for things to be handled in a certain way. She (the teacher) seems to have been driven by a need to tick boxes. How boring her life must be, presenting the same material in the same way over and over again…

    uh-unh – I prefer the approach David has described!

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