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are regarded very much as self-acting professionals, graduates of
Colleges of Education which specialize in teacher training. Large blocks of all three-year
teacher-training programs are also spent in practical hands-on school experience.
Even the term national curriculum is probably a
misnomer in that it suggests a French-style system where every year each child is learning
the same set body of knowledge.
"The new national curriculum doesn't tell teachers
how to run their classes," reports American Teacher Magazine's Elizabeth
Schulz, "but it does emphasize that schools are for the students and should be
organized to give them access to the skills and understanding they need to participate
effectively and productively in society. School learning is meant to be relevant. Class
projects should illuminate for students the interconnectedness of subjects. And, whenever
possible, students should be given choices and responsibility for their own
Four other factors play a big part in the country's
highly successful catch-up programs:
1. While New Zealand education is financed by central
government and the funds are distributed to schools on the basis of roll-numbers, extra
money is provided for schools in low-income areas or areas with special ethnic needs.
2. The Ministry of Education funds a world-renowned Reading
Recovery program in primary schools.
3. Its Learning Media division also provides to all
schools an out-standing selection of free material. This includes a Beginning School
Mathematics program; a fast-paced, colorful Ready To Read series of beginner
books; and a regular School Journal, which includes top-notch writing for children
on a wide range of topics. These Journals have been published for years. All
writing has been indexed for age groups and subjects. And that makes them ideal
source-material for thematic study.
4. Teachers are also encouraged to use their own
Among the resulting breakthroughs:
The four-minute reading program
Like many countries, New Zealand has a large number of
migrant families for whom English is a second language. Not surprisingly, many
Contents Page Preface