Celebrating the Curriculum: Hastings Intermediate School
"Now is the moment. See you later National Standards. We have seen the back of you and now is the moment for us to step into this bright new future and dare we miss this opportunity." Perry Rush shares his approach to the New Zealand Curriculum at Hastings Intermediate School.
Rush is Principal of Hastings Intermediate. He was a founding member and spokesperson for the Boards Taking Action Coalition (BTAC), a group of school boards opposing the introduction of National Standards. He has spoken regularly at NZEI TE Riu Roa events on designing teaching and learning to meet children’s needs, rather than following a narrow curriculum and using standardised assessments to produce quantitative data.
This talk was a part of Growing from Strong Foundations in Auckland on 6, June, 2018
- New Zealand Curriculum
- Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
- Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (English translation, pdf, 0.39MB)
- Te Whāriki (pdf, 4.4MB)
Best Evidence Syntheses
- School Leadership and Student Outcomes Best Evidence Synthesis: Chapter Seven (pdf, 0.7mb)
- Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) Hei Kete Raukura Resources
Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
- School leadership for improvement in primary mathematics education: Russell School best evidence in action implementation exemplar
- Improvement in Mathematics Education: Evidence in Action Hangaia te Urupounamu Pāngarau Mō Tātou
- Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
Hei Oranga Tika: Wellbeing Matters
- Hei Oranga Tika: Wellbeing Matters Emerging evidence of the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on young children
Reading Together Te Pānui Ngātahi
- Reading Together Te Pānui Ngātahi: Implementation for impact and enduring, reciprocal high trust relationships between families, whānau and schools
- Poutama Pounamu
- Evaluation of Te Kotahitanga Phase 5 (2010-2012)
- Disciplined innovation for equity and excellence in education: Learning from Māori and Pasifika change expertise
- 'Walking the talk' matters in the use of evidence for transformative education (pdf, 0.7mb)
Writers in Schools
As you watch the presentations, think about these questions:
- What is something that has challenged or confirmed your thinking about the curricula?
- What can I do as a result?
What did you notice about Fraser’s Curriculum? What did you notice? It was fun. They weren’t sitting at a desk. It was all about context. There was no end to it. Yeah, I mean I sat there Fraser and just got so desperately excited as you were speaking because I could see the curriculum just pouring out of the obvious pleasure the kids were having in their learning. And so, thrilling not to see the curriculum document or to see anything that we would consider to see dusty and off the shelf. There was real engagement around passion and excitement and energy and what really struck me as I listened to you was that I got really excited about you as a human and I don’t know you from a bar of soap. I don’t even know you.
But I just thought what a neat… I wouldn’t mind sharing a beer with that fella. And I wouldn’t mind listening to some of the songs you have written and boy I would love to know a bit more about that wasp. You just got me excited, so what a marvellous example he has given us of the landscape of opportunity that now confronts us in this profession. Because now is the moment – it is now. See you later National Standards. We have seen the back of you and now is the moment for us to step into this bright new future and dare we miss this opportunity. It is here right now and I suspect the best thing about what Fraser has been doing is that he has done what awesome Kiwi teachers have done for years. They have ignored what the power brokers have told us we have to do, they have looked inside at their DNA – their kiwi teacher DNA – and they have gone what resonates about what I care about and what I know about the kids in my care and that is what I am going to hold to.
And that is certainly what we have been doing at Island Bay school, my previous school. I have been a year at Hastings Intermediate and that is the kaupapa that we are travelling forward. How do we pick up these young people? How do we excite and inspire and engage? How do we listen to them? How do we travel with them on this journey as we move forward in their learning?
The video shows an image of the New Zealand Curriculum.
Here is the formal document and it is worth at this point just quickly going back and reminding ourselves of the permission that the NZC gives us to do this because actually it does. Here are the top five intents that the Ministry had when they launched this curriculum in 2007.
Firstly, they recognised the previous curriculum was way too crowded with expectations so they nailed the AO’s, halved them, 50% drop kicked. They placed an emphasis on the front end of the curriculum, those values and principles and the big picture sort of stuff. Do you remember what they introduced? They introduced those essence statements and if you think of that science experiment that you did at high school where you put the dangerous test tube close to your nose and instead of taking a big whiff you are meant to bring the essence towards you with your hand. You get a sense of that learning area so you can … what is the point of essence? So, you can apply it with some flexibility to different contexts. Yeah, go the Dolphins. Yeah.
It eliminated the notion of coverage driving curriculum. It said if your kids learning and them as learners infringes on this idea of coverage, then good. Think about the learner, it is their diversity that drives curriculum. Not standard curriculum and fixed ideas that drives the learning. That is stated. It is generic, it is open-ended, it does allow for local context. It is purposefully designed that way. It is meant to look different in your school than in my school. Are we picking up on this opportunity and are we building those local expectations throughout kids learning because the NZC tells you to?
And finally, it uploads teacher’s professional judgement about outcome. It gives you professional freedom, so exercise that freedom. Don’t look to the curriculum to give you the answers, look to these guys here.
The video shows a montage of school children.
This is the curriculum. Just like Fraser – when I look in the eyes of these young people I just see difference, I just see different kids with different needs and different excitements and different passions. Four lads leaving school at the end of the day and not keen to have their photograph taken.
What is our curriculum kaupapa? It is the diversity of learners, not the sameness. The diversity of the kids in our care and the complexity of the human condition, not the simplicity of the human condition. We aren’t simple. We are wildly different from each other and kids are. So how are our schools dealing with that problem, that beautiful problem. How are we dealing with it? In my view, we need to emancipate curriculum, we need to release it away from this desire to sort of measure and judge and rank and label and confine and that is not where we want to be.
We don’t want to be there because we want curriculum in this country to be really emancipatory. We want it to take kids into a future that they have some ownership over and some control over and a big voice in it. There are a bunch of pedagogies that enable this and we are unfolding these at the moment at Hastings Intermediate, so let me take you for a quick dance through these.
Problem based learning – John Hattie’s work. Problems driving learning create the impetus for kids to instantly become enquirers about their world, questioners and researchers. Where you have a question or a problem, you have an immediate pedagogical driver that invites kids to resolve the question or problem. So, problems at the heart of your pedagogies is really critical in this century.
The video shows a photograph of a sheep carcass and organs.
Primary experiences – here is a bunch of kids learning about the human body. Of course, we couldn’t dissect the human body so we went down the butcher’s shop and got the butcher to give us a carcass and they took that apart. They took that apart with one of our parents who was a nurse who came in and assisted them to understand how this might relate to the human body. When I talk about primary experiences, I am talking about experiences that activate the senses. I am not talking about experiencing the world through a digital device.
And I am not dogging digital devices, but kids start learning in concrete ways. They start by putting their hands on the rough surface, by smelling it and touching it and feeling it and listening. These learning activities in the primary years that activate those senses are really critical and I think in this country we have got to really get back to driving the power of primary learning – sensual learning – with students. So, any learning experience that gets kids messy, that gets them interacting with and gets them confronted by the learning that they are learning about is powerful learning and I can see that big time in Fraser’s curriculum.
Memorable learning experiences. Here is Professor Graeme Nuttall, a wonderful Kiwi Prof, here is his work. Memorable learning experiences are key for teachers to design. Here is the best one I have ever come across in my work at Island Bay school where a teacher was teaching the kids an enquiry about forensic science. Everywhere you go you leave your mark was the problem… is that the case? Everywhere I go and everything I touch – do I leave a bit of me behind? So, Caitlin got one of those electromagnetic globes and she brought it along to her class – a year 5/6 class – and she put it on her desk and just before morning tea time she said – kids, don’t touch it, I am just off to morning tea. We are going to talk about this after morning tea. And she took off.
She sprayed that fluorescent, that see through fluorescent substance over the globe. She got back to class after morning tea and she said, excuse me kids and turned off the light and pulled the curtains. She brought out a black light and said hold up your hands. Okay – so you have all touched it.
She said everywhere you go, you leave your mark and that is what we are going to be learning about and onwards she went into exploring fingerprints and footprint castings and handwriting samples and getting kids really excited about the science around forensics. How awesome is that teacher? She could have just rocked on and said we are going to do science, but she thought about how to grab those kids and hook them in and get them really passionate about what they were going to come to.
Make learning perform with power. This is Harvard University’s Project Zero – this is teaching for understanding so this is good stuff, powerful pedagogy. This is a wee enquiry that some kids did around the impact of humans on the beach.
The video shows a photograph of a littered beach.
They went down to the beach – they were having a picnic down there one day – and noticed that there was a lot of rubbish all over the beach and became concerned about that problem and then wanted to find out who had dropped it so that they could take action and give their learning some power and make a difference in the world.
And so, they collected all the rubbish and did a big rubbish collect and then they divided the rubbish into types of rubbish so that they had the chippie wrappers and lolly wrappers, they had the cigarette butts and beer cans and then they made inferences about who had dropped the rubbish. That is the after school crowd and they picnic on the beach, that’s the Friday night teenagers that come down and you know… and then they developed a plan to do something about it, to get to those groups through a media campaign and try to change their behaviour.
They gave their learning power and I think in this century it is key for our kids that they understand it doesn’t just stop at acquiring knowledge, it is about what you do with it and it is about how you make an impact. And in an age where those that traditionally have not been powerful, kids, now are able to be very powerful and we want to support young people to have and exercise that sort of impact on their world.
The video shows a photograph of dinosaur bones arranged in a classroom.
Here is an amazing teacher, back at Island Bay school this past term teaching and learning with maximum creativity. They are exploring being palaeontologists in their new entrant class. So, what did the teacher do? She baked bread bones and they hid those bread bones under the bark in the playground and the kids brought their paintbrushes to school and had their journals and they had to go and brush the bark off the bread bones and pull the bones out and together they made the dinosaur on the wall of their classroom. They posted their journals of that process and their ongoing reflections and discoveries. What an awesome teacher. I don’t know how long it took her to make a dinosaur in her oven at home, but man – that is impressive.
Activating synthesis between competing ideas. This is a really important pedagogical process that takes kids learning deep. Where you have competing ideas, you develop conceptual breadth and understanding that goes wide and so enabling debate and conversations and discussions and arguments in a positive way pushes kids learning sideways and you want that. You want that challenge for kids, so conceptual depth and breadth drives deep conceptual understanding about the world.
You can do this in your curriculums by taking big ideas that you agree are important in your schools and getting your kids to explore those through different contexts and make sure that every context the kids come to as they move through your school smashes up the previous experience of that big idea. The better you smash up the previous understanding and the better you rebuild it through different context, the deeper the learning. Not many schools do this, a lot of schools jump from enquiry to enquiry without coherence across the school. But think about big ideas that you care about in your school and how you might get kids to revisit those big ideas through different contexts to drive deep learning – that is really key.
I am going to jump through this because I only have a short 15 minutes. So, my kaupapa for you today is really around focussing on the diversity of learners and the complexity of the human condition and in a world where ideas and power are being deconstructed. We are reaching at Hastings Intermediate and this is our local curriculum now so this is just hot off the press. Consulting with our whanau, with our staff, our kids – these are the ideas we came up with, so a really quick dance through this before I finish.
We talked about reaching because we talked about Te Maunga o Rongokako Te Mata Peak – that represents our aspirations for our kids. No excuses man, we are going for it. Every kid. Every day is a new day. Let’s do it, we are here for you, we believe in you. We are flowing, the Tukituki River, so our kids need to be well. You can’t learn if you are not well, so we will wrap our arms around you and we are going to take care of you – whatever it takes. We are stretching, our curriculum needs to take our kids to exciting places and new places and it needs to be represent the fact that we are diverse as humans. So, I don’t want a one size fits all literacy and numeracy curriculum. Really important building blocks, but so is dance. Yep and so is science. So is tech. So is kicking a ball around the field. So is friendship and love – you know… the whole human. That’s what we are on about in this country, not sameness.
And that is around our Turangawaewae – our home, our resting place, a school that is built to take care of the kids in our care. And we are doing that through five strategic curriculum goals. Negotiating with our community – remember the NZC says do this. Go back to your schools and say what does this generic document look like for us? So, for Hastings Intermediate it is about exciting, engaging and inspiring. It is about making agent, getting our kids to be present in their learning and take ownership. It is about building their learning power. If you know Guy Claxton’s work, we are into that.
It is about differentiating our practice, because we are different. The teachers have to be really talented to meet the needs of all of these kids and it is about being culturally responsive and Bobbie’s wonderful challenge of culturally sustaining. Yes, we have a cultural descriptor – this is what we are on about, this is what we care about and this is what we are wiling to spend time doing, what we celebrate and what we talk about. And we have answered those sentence starters. Use this quote in your school if you want to capture culture because curriculum is culture and culture is curriculum. How you act together is curriculum. So, don’t hesitate to think about your behavioural norms as being really important curriculum goals.
And finally, we have enshrined our big ideas. Not enough time to go through these for you but ideas like enterprise and innovation, environmental awareness and sustainable practices. Wellbeing. Perspective and opinion. Science think. Expression and research, culture and community – they are our nine big ideas and we roll those through once a term, every two years and give teachers freedom to contextualise those in any way they choose fit in partnership with kids. Because it is about bringing that kids voice in partnership with the teacher to learning to make sure it is living.
That’s us. Hastings Intermediate – we would love to see you anytime. Thanks everybody.
More from this series
Do you want to explore and be inspired by our National Curricula, understand more about the values and principles that underpin them, and focus on possibilities for creative implementation? Curricula experts share their expertise in working with all the New Zealand curricula in Growing from Strong Foundations - Exploring the potential of the National Curricula for all children.
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