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Call for revolution in our schools

Top selling non-fiction author calls for revolution in our schools

New Zealand is sitting on a potential educational tourism goldmine – but this will only be realised if schools take the opportunity to be world leaders in 21st century education, says a top selling non-fiction author.

This is one of a string of challenges Auckland-based author Gordon Dryden put to delegates at the New Zealand Principals’ Federation Conference being held in Wellington this week.

Gordon Dryden says New Zealand has a unique opportunity to lead the world in incorporating technology in education. He also believes educational tourism could bring $2 billion a year to the country.

Mr Dryden is a radio and television talkshow host and is also co-author of The Learning Revolution, which has sold 10 million copies in China in less than a year. He is currently rewriting the book for the fifth time for the American, Russian, and East European market.

He told delegates that New Zealand’s unique opportunity to lead the world in 21st century education, lay in the decentralisation of school administration over the past decade.

During this time, instant communications were being revolutionised, and some of New Zealand’s best primary schools are now world leaders in incorporating this technology in all aspects of education, he says.

For example over the last six years Papamoa’s Tahatai Coast Primary School has been visited by an estimated 7000 teachers, including 2000from overseas. The purpose of the visits was to find out how 21st century schools should be run.

“We now know how to store all the world’s most important information, and make it available to almost everyone instantly. That calls for a real revolution in world education yet we have 59 million school teachers either producing their own lesson plans or regurgitating old material for bored kids.”

“New Zealand schools are showing how we can use the whole world as a classroom, and overseas teachers are interested in what we are doing. As long as we continue to do it well they will make the effort to come and see it firsthand.”
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2/ A call for revolution

Mr Dryden says a national policy needs to be introduced to allow other schools to follow suit, so that education tourism does reach its potential.

He cites an example of one school where all of its five-year-olds can do computer animation, seven-year-olds each have their own websites, and 10-year-olds write, shoot, edit and record music for award-winning videotapes.

This school now has no graffiti or truancy, and the students line up at 7am to get into school, he says. All their work is pressed on to CD-roms and video, rather than the school sending home written reports.

“All this is happening in a so-called low-decile school with a 30 percent Maori roll. Give me one good reason why that should not be the norm at all New Zealand schools? Would you rather we produced highly skilled 21st century contributors – or another generation of unemployables? The choice is pretty obvious.”

He says society is faced for the first time ever with a situation where children know more about the main tools of communication than their parents or teachers.

“Let’s concentrate on creating a school environment that lets them use all the tools of this century to do a better job than we are currently doing,” he says.

[ends]

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