New Zealand primary education, long viewed as world leading, is under threat, with the introduction of the national standards. This switch to standards based education, and all that goes with this, has stunned overseas educators, who have held this country’s primary schools up as the shining example to follow.
The standards ideology is based on a very instructional based view of education, that takes little or no cognisance of accepted and long established pedagogies based on the philosophies of child centred learning.
Hopefully the initial battle, that against the national standards, will be successful without causing too much damage to our wonderful primary schools. However, even in that case, the long term war against the accompanying ideologies has a long way to go.
The Norse mythology of Ragnarok seems a perfect metaphor for our battle:
“Ragnarok (“Doom of the Gods”), also called Gotterdammerung, means the end of the cosmos in Norse mythology. It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters. Three such winters will follow each other with no summers in between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end.”
“The wolf Skoll will finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati will eat the moon, plunging the earth [into] darkness. The stars will vanish from the sky. The cock Fjalar will crow to the giants and the golden cock Gullinkambi will crow to the gods. A third cock will raise the dead.
The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and every bond and fetter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenrir. The sea will rear up because Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, is twisting and writhing in fury as he makes his way toward the land. With every breath, Jormungand will stain the soil and the sky with his poison. The waves caused by the serpent’s emerging will set free the ship Naglfar, and with the giant Hymir as their commander, the giants will sail towards the battlefield. From the realm of the dead a second ship will set sail, and this ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as their helmsman. The fire giants, led by the giant Surt, will leave Muspell in the south to join against the gods. Surt, carrying a sword that blazes like the sun itself, will scorch the earth.
Meanwhile, Heimdall will sound his horn, calling the sons of Odin and the heroes to the battlefield. From all the corners of the world, gods, giants, dwarves, demons and elves will ride towards the huge plain of Vigrid (“battle shaker”) where the last battle will be fought. Odin will engage Fenrir in battle, and Thor will attack Jormungand. Thor will victorious, but the serpent’s poison will gradually kill the god of thunder. Surt will seek out the swordless Freyr, who will quickly succumb to the giant. The one-handed Tyr will fight the monstrous hound Garm and they will kill each other. Loki and Heimdall, age-old enemies, will meet for a final time, and neither will survive their encounter. The fight between Odin and Fenrir will rage for a long time, but finally Fenrir will seize Odin and swallow him. Odin’s son Vidar will at once leap towards the wolf and kill him with his bare hands, ripping the wolf’s jaws apart.
Then Surt will fling fire in every direction. The nine worlds will burn, and friends and foes alike will perish. The earth will sink into the sea.”