Educational Utopia? the New Zealand Standards Approach Considered in the Light of the German Experience in Vocational Training
This thesis is concerned with both the direction and the appropriateness of the recently adopted standards-based approach in post-compulsory education and training in New Zealand, while particularly focusing on the implications this might have in formal post-school trades training. It evaluates the developments, the tenets, and the early results of the 'standards' movement within a socio-historical context and against the development of relevant policy formations and legislative changes. The central focus in this work is on the National Qualifications Framework, which is currently being developed under the auspices of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. This outcomes-focussed model, and related government-initiatives, represent a radial shift away from established learning and teaching practices in New Zealand, a move which is not uncontested for both pedagogical and pragmatical reasons. An analysis of these developments is discussed with reference to those in apprenticeship training and policy in the Federal Republic of Germany, which includes the intention, as expressed by the major role players in the Republic, to develop an educational framework model. The principles, scope, and structure, as they relate to these framework models, are analysed from a comparative perspective, and certain points are highlighted. This thesis contends that despite fundamental divergence in training cultures and systems in the two countries, it is recognised that the common aim of the framework approaches is to improve the correspondence between the world of education and work as well as to enhance the educational pathways for students. This, it is argued, are commendable and valuable aims; not in the least because it has also the potential to bridge the 'vocational/academic' divide - an increasingly invalid division in modern-day societies. This is reflected in a strong focus in these framework models on the promotion, and implementation, of an integrated learning and teaching approach which is supported by the notion introduced by Michael Young that qualifying is a continuous process. This concept is now generally endorsed by the major role players in both Germany and New Zealand as being an important one, in that it is supportive of the macro aim of furthering national economic progress. The author, however, contends that educational, progress cannot simply be assumed because a new educational, or qualifications, framework is being introduced. Its foundation needs to be pedagogically sound and based on sufficient research while an (over)reliance on a single assessment strategy for application to all of post-compulsory education and training cannot be accepted as valid from an educational viewpoint. The thesis concludes with advocacy for more critical research into the NQF.