Having the ability and the aptitude to react quickly to changes in community circumstances and demands around education is critical to our CEC projects. For Te Hā o Mātauranga | Learning in Kaikōura, navigating the educational and employment changes after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Kaikoura in November 2016 was essential in ensuring their community had the capacity and capabilities to become part of the rebuild.
For Kaikoura whānau, the earthquake not only destroyed road and rail links, demolished houses, ripped up roads and railways and sent acres of land hurtling into the sea from massive landslides, it also displaced many community members out of work as the fishing, tourism and hospitality industries became temporarily redundant.
In its infancy at the time, CEC project Te Hā o Mātauranga saw the need to quickly support and upskill community members who were struggling to gain employment. They partnered with Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu to provide the He Toki Step Up programme, a short course aimed at helping participants achieve the minimum credentials to access employment opportunities after the quake. Together, the partners recruited 17 participants, who received training in civil construction alongside ‘soft skills’ of career planning, CV writing and interview skills. All participants were able to access driver licensing training and tests. This in itself was a huge task which required significant forward planning, not least of all because the lack of traffic lights made it impossible to sit a test in Kaikoura, and access to towns in which a drivers licence test could be taken was severely restricted by road damage.
Altogether, of the 14 participants who completed the programme, 8 found full time. employment after the short programme, 5 of these in jobs created after the earthquake. A further three participants continued with part time work, and two returned to school.
In the two years since the earthquakes, Te Hā o Mātauranga has continued to offer the community of Kaikoura the mix of practical skills, soft skills and competencies required by the future working environment, alongside the community planning and goal setting needed for communities to flourish, and in doing so play an important role in helping to connect their community with education and learning for the 21st century.
Future jobs will look very different to what they do now. There is expected to be a reduction in the needs for workers to complete routine, manual tasks which will be offset by an increase in the time workers need to spend focusing on people, solving strategic problems and thinking creatively. There will be a lot less management and organisation coordination, and self-employment or portfolio working will become the norm.
By 2030, it is estimated that workers will spend:
30% more time learning on the job
100% more time solving problems
41% more time on critical thinking and judgement
77% more time using science and maths
17% more time using verbal, communication, and interpersonal skills
Teaching and learning will need to change dramatically to respond to this changing environment. The types of teaching and learning that respond to the needs of our future workforce will need to be highly personalised and highly collaborative. It will need to respond to the needs of the learner, not the convenience of the learning institution. It must recognise that learning occurs in a multitude of contexts outside of the school walls and, most importantly, it will need to make the learner a partner in the learning process.
The current focus on learning areas will need to give way to a greater emphasis on competencies such as: participating and contributing, thinking, relating to others, using language, symbols and text, and managing self.
So what’s going to be needed for support our students, whānau and communities to navigate this changing system?
Self management will become a critical skill as students begin to manage their own learning. Whānau and community planning and goal setting will become more important and all whānau will need access to technology as a teaching and learning tool. Guidance and support will need to be strengthened.
Over the next few months we're going to use our blog to look at our CEC initiatives in each of our communities to understand what steps they are taking to support students, whānau and communities to adapt and succeed to this changing environment. Check back to read our case studies and examples of innovative and disruptive community-driven initiatives that connect our communities in Aotearoa with education and learning for the 21st century.
Three dumb questions to ask a 15 year old: 1. Can you please put your phone down for just five minutes? 2. Do you really need to see your friends this weekend? 3. What do you want to do when you leave school?
Of all these questions, the last one is the most problematic. Unlike the first two questions, the third question - what do you want to do when you leave school - is almost impossible for our teens to answer. This is because artificial intelligence (AI) and globalisation are impacting so significantly on jobs that it's almost impossible to predict what the future workforce might look like.
What we do know, thanks mostly to innovative research being conducted by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), is that young people graduating now are likely to work in 17 different jobs – many yet unknown and unknowable - across 5 careers, through a working life of 60 to 70 years.
In May the JR McKenzie Trust and the Ministry of Youth Development partnered to offer a presentation on The New Work Order by Jan Owen from the FYA. Their research shows that a new work order is arriving – fast. The world of work is in a massive transition to an ever more global, technology driven, flexible economy in which whole professions are being altered, new professions are coming into existence, and traditional jobs are being swallowed by automation.
The role of education in preparing our young people to meet the unknowable future is huge. Yet we are, as Ken Robinson says, using an outmoded industrial educational system to prepare our young people for a rapidly changing future.
Projects such as those funded by Connecting Education and Communities have a crucial role in helping communities and their education providers to become more responsive to the educational needs of young people and their whānau. To do this, we support each CEC project to ensure active and authentic participation from the target groups so that activities are responsive to the aspirations of whānau, hapu, iwi. We believe that by doing this communities will be increasingly recognised as important partners in improving education.
What we want to see, ideally, (and with reference again to Ken Robinson) is communities and education providers taking a highly personalised, organic approach that draws on technological and professional resources to engage all students, develop their love of learning, and enable them to face the real challenges of the twenty-first century.
Disruptive social innovation describes a way of tackling social problems that requires engagement with communities to design a project or service that actually addresses their needs and interests. It disrupts more traditional ways of doing projects (i.e. planned for a couple of years, top-down and expensive and by the time things get going the problem has often changed) and the process is visionary, adaptive and highly collaborative.
The Connecting Education and Communities (CEC) project aims to disrupt disadvantage by strengthening the connections between communities and education. The project works with innovative, locally-led initiatives that drive the impact of CEC in each community through vision, adaptation, and a commitment to collaboration.
There is, however, more to disruption than just saying you are disruptive. We encourage each of our groups to intentionally apply some disruptive principles to their community development work, namely:
Engage with people at different parts of the project who have different ideas Getting a team of specialists together or relying on the same old faces is unlikely to produce innovation, simply because they are likely to stick to the approaches they already know and are familiar with. We encourage the CEC groups to use co-design to harness the knowledge and creativity of 'everyday people' in their communities to generate solutions.
Aim for a flat, rather than heirarchical structure Our CEC groups are necessarily flat structured - mostly because they don't have the resources to employ lots of people and establish a giant heirarchy. As Mia Bunge points out, this is to their advantage, as having strong leaders and an entrenched heirarchy can be incredibly narrowing for any innovation culture.
Have a good grasp of what it is you are trying to change Before joining CEC, our groups need to show they understand what effective community engagement looks like (or have experience in engaging whanau and communities) and seek out data or evidence that helps them understand the situation/s they are dealing with.
Start thinking at a systems level Our CEC groups form an (important) part of a bigger picture in their community. They are not one-off, isolated projects but instead interact and collaborate with other partners, projects and communities who are also tackling children's disadvantage. Click here for a fun 3 min youtube clip on the importance of systems thinking.
Have a "to do" philosophy. Get ideas out of heads and into a testing, prototyping and implementing cycle. We encourage our groups to use a design thinking process of test/iterate/ideate/test/iterate/ideate (and repeat!).
Disruption sounds a bit hairy - but once you get into the nuts and bolts it really isn't that tricky. And we promise that none of our change agents are harmed in the process!
Nadine Metzger provides evaluation support for the CEC project.
Strengthening the ‘voice’ of the community in education has the potential to lift achievement levels, particularly for those currently not well served by the education system.
When we look at the big picture, we see that in international comparisons, the NZ education system is characterised as generally high performing. Look slightly deeper, however, and we see a large minority of children, most who are disproportionately from poor, Māori or Pasifika families, who experience significant disparity of achievement within the system. What do we mean by “significant disparity of achievement?” Well - according to a February 2016 report from the OECD, it means the poorest 25 per cent of our students are more than six times more likely to perform poorly in maths than those from the richest 25 percent.
The NZ education system is strong on treating people equally. Education is compulsory, everyone has reasonable access, we have national formulas for the size and quality of facilities and national staffing ratios. Everyone is entitled to the same ‘dose‘ of education. What the research shows is that our system is not strong on equity. This means the outcomes from our system are very different for different groups of people. Our system does not work for everyone and there appears to be a deepening socio-economic divide in our schooling system, where well off kids are far more likely to do well at school than are poor kids. For more on this crisis in school achievement, see the New Zealand Herald’s Political roundup on our unequal education system.
To start to address inequity we look first at the spread of achievement within the school then whether the school is providing the support to those who need it most. This ‘analysis of variance’ that all schools should be doing is a powerful tool for reducing inequity, provided schools then respond by investing in extra support for those who need it. Unfortunately, this is often difficult and can be costly. An equitable school community would have to place a high value on shifting resources to those who need it most. As a result of shifting these resources, often some other students will not get everything they want. Most schools struggle to manage the local dynamics that result from this type of decision-making.
The rationale underpinning the NZ system of school governance is that local boards of trustees and school principals will make better resource distribution decisions than a central authority. The local team will be in a better position to respond to local needs and allocate resources to where they are needed. The Government does this roughly with the school decile funding system and the assumption is that then school communities will make finer grained distributions locally. But nearly 30 years after “Tomorrow’s Schools” and the introduction of boards of trustees, many of our school students are still underachieving. This suggests our school communities are not very good at being able to re-allocate the necessary resources.
Education success does not just rely on the distribution of resources. Apart from the in-school factors, we know that education success is related to parents’ (particularly mothers’) level of education. This seems to stem from parents having had some success in education and then expecting their children to have the same or better. These parents also know how to support their children to engage with learning and meet that expectation. They feel confident when dealing with their children’s schools. When that confidence, expectation and support is shared across a community it acts as a powerful expectation on the performance of the school. These parents are also likely to be strong advocates ensuring that their children get their share of the school resources.
We have a system that favours strong, educated and assertive families and communities. This explanation behind education success also, in my view, explains why our system is low on equity.
The Connecting Education and Communities Project is trying to build that same level of expectation and support for families who are most likely to have low education levels, low expectations of what school can offer and low skills in negotiating the school system. We want to strengthen the community voice in schools when the distribution of resources is being decided so that all our children have equitable access to resources. We want to assist the creation of a self-reinforcing system that builds both the expectations and the skills of the people in our school communities. Ultimately, what we want to do is build expectation and capability across the whole community.
Will it work? Our experience suggests that building CEC at a community level is the most effective for sustained change. As always, there is lots to learn along the way, which we will share as we go along through our website and this blog.
*Author: Jim Matheson is the CEC project leader.
My role is to work with communities on strengthening their engagement in education. This often means helping communities build consensus on overall goals. This includes help with aligning of activities, developing advocacy services and facilitating effective working relationships between the community and its education institutions. I am an education consultant whose work focusses on improving education for all. I work with communities, education institutions and governments in New Zealand and the Pacific on analysing education performance and developing workable solutions for improvement.
The trickiest thing about education is that it is complicated. That’s also why I enjoy it - I like the mess!!!