Access by Various artists

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Access: National Standards and the threat to autistic creativity (a little bit of history)

17 Responses

  • Russell Brown,

    All students have to do National Standards yet the schools’ reports must not mention that there are students with diverse educational needs in the aggregated data. Uniformity, not creativity is the aim.

    It's hard to believe a system would be designed for such a result. Argh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21810 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Alan Peachey, the committee chair, actually seemed quite receptive to our concerns. But then he had worked in education all his life. He retired from Parliament at the 2011 election and died soon after.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3014 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Johnson,

    In the eyes of the architects everyone is trying to achieve a blandness of personality and a development of business skill sets, to create a perfect dream National Party citizenry.

    Art is only for rich kids whose parents can bankroll their gap year(s) abroad.

    hamilton • Since Mar 2016 • 93 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The humans archive is here. Some more of our important NZ autism history. https://web.archive.org/web/20151030110030/http://humans.org.nz/

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3014 posts Report Reply

  • Bernadette Macartney,

    Thanks Hilary :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2016 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    News today that NATIONAL STANDARDS HAVE FAILED!

    Radio New Zealand reports that NZ kids are not improving in international league tables, are instead slipping in relation to other countries, and the gap between the highest achievers and the 'tail' has grown since the National Standards regime began.

    Please can we have an apology from the Government for this failed experiment. I would hope for some strong media condemnation of the National Government and its education ministers - but don't expect it.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3014 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19197 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Shocked (although I shouldn't be by now) to hear that primary schools receive NO resourcing or materials for school music. Apparently nothing since 2010. Yet we have this proud history of encouraging and supporting the arts and creativity. So sad.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3014 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    NO resourcing or materials for school music

    Encouraging creativity.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2032 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to mark taslov,

    Encouraging creativity.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1231 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Thanks for this Rosemary, I caught the brief clip on the news so it’s wonderful to hear it all the way through. This performance illustrates well the mutual exclusivity of the overlapping concepts; art and creativity. Here the artistic accomplishment is measurable in our response as listeners while the creativity required to perform a Leonard Cohen song verbatim in a uniformed, static group is of little note.

    I think it’s important to remain vigilant about this distinction as Hilary’s pointed out:

    Uniformity, not creativity is the aim.

    Because it would be all to easy for a Government to throw wads of cash at this type of issue without specifying clear outcomes, doing so simply to placate criticism at a lack of funding for ‘arts and creativity’ – most schools probably already have the vital ingredients for the clip above: a stage, a piano and a few brave pure voices.

    As Hilary’s opening paragraph highlights, exploring and developing creativity – which is essentially a form of problem solving – doesn’t require expensive resources: in fact the scarcer the resources, the greater the degree of creativity encouraged.

    A couple of years back The Verlaine’s Graeme Downe’s quoted a songwriter who was guest speaker for his composition class:

    "you only have to make one mistake to ruin a song"

    What I found unusual about his paying homage to this idea is that a leading feature of the Verlaines’ music to me is their capacity to produce flawed masterpieces, the ruin of a song being an entirely subjective experience and the success of a song often contingent on its conformity to the vernacular.

    Though you probably won’t thank me for it, The art brut of The Shaggs (whom Zappa named as the #3 greatest band in history) illustrates the conflicted nature of the interaction between artistic accomplishment and creativity in a way that defies conventional wisdom and offers a confounding window into Dot Wiggin’s put-upon adolescent mind; highlighting the very fine line between encouraging children to speak and putting words in their mouths.

    Sorry, a much longer spiel than I'd intended ~ Merry Christmas!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2032 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to mark taslov,

    I think it’s important to remain vigilant about this distinction as Hilary’s pointed out:

    Uniformity, not creativity is the aim.

    What struck me about this performance was the fact that the wee lass was barely vocal when she began at the school. (And the fact that the choir managed to remain reasonably still throughout a long performance.)

    The first step, surely, on the road to creativity is finding a child's natural medium?

    I'd be interested to know if the children were involved in writing the lyrics.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1231 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    that the wee lass was barely vocal when she began at the school

    Yes, that really is remarkable Rosemary. The changes to the lyrics are by Christian rock band Cloverton.

    The first step, surely, on the road to creativity is finding a child’s natural medium?

    It’s an interesting question, because for the most part our traditional education process hinges on a process of suppressing the creativity that most children innately possess – except in cases such as Kaylee’s where there is an obvious talent to be nurtured. The difficulty this presents for teachers is in finding the balance between encouraging meritocracy and working in the best interests of all members of the chorus. Again I’m a little weary about too strongly conflating the arts with creativity in this X-Factor/The Voice/ American Idol age, in that creativity is a means of using our minds to resolve the problems that life presents – from science to maths and all in between, some children don’t have a natural medium and some only reveal theirs much later:

    some of his teachers thought he might be retarded (mentally handicapped); he was unable to speak fluently (with ease and grace) at age nine

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2032 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    So I had a chat to a friend over the break about this, a teacher’s aide, and he was lamenting that the music class for the special needs students had been cut from 2 to 1 hours in 2016. The second hour has now reverted to that most difficult class for all concerned; sitting in silence. He blamed this on the Ministry of Education.

    So I asked him why he couldn’t do something with the students for the second hour, given that he’s a seasoned musician and an accomplished painter (he gained an interview at Elam but it turned into a dispute when they insisted that his work was airbrushed – which it wasn’t, it was oil on canvas via brush – as a result of the exchange he gave up the idea of studying fine arts entirely, but that’s another story).

    The music class is held by none other than Peter Jefferies, yes that Peter Jefferies, and by my friend’s account it’s absolutely superb, there’s a small covers band, students are given opportunities to join in on the instruments and helped along, it sounds fantastic, better than anything I could have imagined in a music class at school in the 80s where the best case was a singalong with the piano, the worst case was pretending to play special desks painted up to resemble piano keyboards and the common scenario was recorders; endless screechy recorders.

    Although I offered a couple of suggestions as to how he might run an hour long creative workshop it was clear that my friend didn’t feel confident that he could come up with anything close to the status quo, derisively comparing what he might attempt to the consummate professionalism that is Peter Jefferies’ class, so I dropped the topic.

    What really struck me, is that we absolutely do want these students exploring their creativity, but it does appear that the education system is so bereft of creativity itself that it lets the unharnessed talents of valuable human resources (who are not able to provide all the bells and whistles with the same level of expertise) go entirely to waste, ensuring 35 or so more hours a year of special needs students sitting in silence.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2032 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to mark taslov,

    Sad. I doubt many, or any, of them will sit in silence, however.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3014 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    yeah. A little disco mightn't do any harm.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2032 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    Shocked (although I shouldn’t be by now) to hear that primary schools receive NO resourcing or materials for school music. Apparently nothing since 2010. Yet we have this proud history of encouraging and supporting the arts and creativity. So sad.

    The other day we picked up a couple of Dutch hitch hikers in the Far North. During our shared journey we chatted and it turned out that the young lady worked as a dance and music 'teacher' in Dutch schools. (I write 'teacher' because the impression I got was that her job was to teach basic music and movement skills so the kids had the tools to be greative under their own initiative.)

    Anyway...this project is aimed at all Dutch children and has been of especial benefit to children with disabilities and within that group of particular benefit to kids on the spectrum. The Dutch government was not funding schemes such as this...this is a newish initiative, and when I asked what prompted the Dutch Government to begin funding this dance and music program our Young Fellow Traveler had a wee think and said " the Science told them it would be good for the children." (Yes, she did verbally capitalize "Science".)

    So there!

    (I would have loved to discuss this at greater depth but they had to get on their way and its a tad difficult to hold a conversation above the rattle of a diesel engine while negotiating 45 kph bends! However, one interesting point she made was that she had seen only few people with obvious disabilities out in the community while traveling in NZ. )

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1231 posts Report Reply

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