As we move into the future, the opportunities for students to access a far greater range of learning are clearly increasing. Even now, students access the internet for knowledge and to interact with people in other schools and countries; they can experience work and tertiary education while still at school; they can choose from a much wider range of subjects and qualifications than the students of 20 years ago. However the fundamentals of learning may shift rather less.
Education has a profound social purpose: Learning principle 1
Despite recent attempts to portray the purpose of education as largely economic, to produce 'human capital' for the workforce, teachers and families/whanau hold fast to the social purpose of education. Education enhances students' ability to fully participate in a democratic society, while at the same time developing their ability to contribute as adults to the sustainable economic development of the country.
Implication for the future: Education will continue to serve purposes of social cohesiveness and citizenship.
Learning occurs in a cultural context: Learning principle 2
Under the Treaty of Waitangi, the State is committed to partnership with tangata whenua, and New Zealand schools, as part of the State, must demonstrate this bi-cultural partnership in their practices. At the same time, New Zealand is also an increasingly multi-cultural society, and schools must respect the aspirations of the many cultural groups represented among their students.
Implication for the future: Schools will reflect Treaty relationships and will recognise cultural diversity in their policies, practices and programmes.
Learning is life-long: Learning principle 3
At school, students gain skills, knowledge and qualifications that they can pursue further after they leave school. They also develop the attitudes, values and skills that will enable them to learn independently and in formal learning throughout the rest of their lives. Connectedness between learning and adult life increases with the year level of students.
Implication for the future: School-age learning will continue to establish the foundations for life-long learning.
Learning is a social activity: Learning principle 4
Humans need social interaction, and learning flourishes where relationships support the learner. Learning is also enhanced where there is collaboration between student, teacher, family, and the community (including employers and other educational institutions). It is certainly true that ICT will offer hugely increased opportunities for students to access people beyond their classroom both as part of their school learning and from outside the school context. It is also true that secondary schools, teachers and students will maintain close links with local and international communities beyond their own. Nevertheless, learning will still be primarily based in schools because of the social nature of learning.
Implication for the future: Students will be more 'connected' beyond the school, but will still be based in schools.
Learning needs are diverse: Learning principle 5
There is increasing awareness of the diversity of the student population, in terms of culture, ethnicity, home language, gender and sexuality, socio-economic background, and special learning needs. Teachers and schools must be adequately resourced to be able to fully understand and meet the diverse learning and social needs of all of these students.
Implication for the future: Schools will offer high quality opportunities for the full range of learners.
Learning is underpinned by knowledge: Learning principle 6
There are sometimes suggestions that teaching will become more generalist, however the opposite is true. As knowledge expands, teachers need to be even more expert in the specialist knowledge, skills and pedagogy of their subject areas, in order to be able to help their students access the learning they need. This in-depth subject specialist knowledge is increasingly required for teachers of students from Year 7 and above. This does not deny, however, the importance of knowledge of the linkages between disciplines and areas of knowledge. Further, it does not deny the importance of developing students' metacognitive skills, so that they can become independent learners. The rapid expansion of available information also places an even higher demand on subject specialist teachers to develop students' ability to sift and critically analyse this plethora of information. Many students will also expand, with the support of subject specialist teachers, their capacity to create new knowledge themselves.
Implication for the future: Students will continue to be taught by subject specialist secondary teachers.
Students learn best and teachers teach best when they are healthy and safe: Learning principle 7
Schools need to demonstrate commitment to the mental and physical wellbeing of all of their students and teachers, if students are to be able to learn successfully. This includes taking a proactive approach to grappling with bullying and disruptive behaviour. A whole school approach to a healthy and safe environment, including working with families/whanau and the community, ensures that all students and teachers have the skills they need to live and work harmoniously alongside others. New challenges to student and teacher safety and wellbeing lie in increasing access to new technologies, and schools need clear policies and practices concerning these. Teachers and schools need to be supported to ensure that their schools are healthy and safe places.
Implication for the future: Schools will be healthy and safe places for teaching and learning.