There Is A Gap

Again it seams I have wandered into the early hours of the morning with much on my mind. Last night I saw Transamerica, while the movie itself is interesting, I found something of much greater significance in the films score. The track to which I refer is called “Take ‘em Away” and the rendition in the film was attributed to Old Cow Medicine Show. The lyrics of the song lead me to believe that it was a song sung by black American slaves about the oppression they faced prior to the black civil rights movement although I have no evidence to support this save for the theme and structure of the lyrics

I find it interesting how the message of the song is still in some context applicable to many minorities, even in the first world. While most people here aren’t forced to work as slaves, many people still struggle to live,which I think reflects sadly on the state of modern societies. Some might argue that one needs to help oneself, and to some extent I do agree, one can make choices that makes getting ahead harder, but I still believe we could do more as a society to decrease the number of people that are left behind. 

To leave this post here would be unjust to some degree. While I realize there are many third world countries with oppressive political regimes and all of the issues that come with that, its easy to overlook that not everyone in New Zealand has a home either. A lot of the people in this position will have got where they are through their own bad decision making, and they must live with the consequences of those decisions, giving these people free handouts is not likely to do anything but stimulate the growth of a culture of dependence on these government funds and is not something I advocate.

I believe the basis for good life decision making is founded in a well-rounded education.  While I’m sure the national curriculum is well balanced, I’m not sure that it is delivered in such a way as to be engaging enough for all students. Too many of our students leave high school at the end of year 11 with no qualifications, and for many students this is the beginning of a series of bad decisions that could lead them to become disadvantaged later in life.

These are the students in the back of the class, with whom the teacher is frustrated and has given up on for all intents and purposes. While I do acknowledge that trying to teach students that don’t want to learn is an impossible task, I submit that allowing a student to be in this state in a year 11 classroom represents a failure in the education system. One solution to this problem is individualized education for students that are not engaged properly by mainstream teaching methods. I believe that for this to work, it needs to be implemented at all levels of the primary and secondary school education system and that students who need it need to be identified as soon as possible.

The pragmatist would remind me that as good as individualized education may be, funding for education is severely limited and needs to be made to work for the majority of students, a majority that is receptive to mainstream teaching methods. While I do agree that the education system as a whole is in need of greater funding, I don’t believe that the lack thereof is an acceptable justification for children not receiving the best possible education when it is so vital to their growth. There may be a small majority in need of these services at the level of individual classrooms or schools, but if one takes a broader view considering the number of students in entire regions and the nation, then the need for these services is certainly justifiable.

I agree that it is unrealistic for an individual school to provide these services for an individual or small group of students but the sharing of resources amongst schools in a local area may make this more feasible. While there will certainly be some cost over and above that of the mainstream model, if you weigh that against the number of students who will leave with qualifications and a better quality of life is the fiscal expense of these services really unjustifiable?

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