We'd love to send our little freethinker to a more kid-centred school, if only a) we could afford it and b) I wasn't heavily swayed by Sandra Tsing Loh's eloquent argument that the only thing that can save public schools is an army of pissed off, mouthy, professional-class parents who are mad as hell and won't take it any more.
Great links, thanks. Quite a force of nature!
You might be interested to know that over 50 percent of secondary school students are enrolled in private schools in NSW. Clearly they didn't follow her prescription, or rather they're still on the upswing where public subsidies for schools fees make them affordable for a while (like the frog slowing cooking in the saucepan).
But the bit that makes him really flip out is when, after asking the same stupid comprehension question several times from several different angles, the final question is always: "What was the most important thing you learned from reading this article? And why is it important?"
He routinely answers "Nothing" and "It's not, really." Because he doesn't like to lie. I've nudged him towards "[Totally random fact]" and "Because I didn't know that," just to halfway meet expectations. (He's going to have to answer dumbly phrased questions in his life, and I sort of want him to get used to that, depressing as it is.)
Ow gawd. Would kids be rewarded for answers such as "I learned to get in touch with my inner" . . . whatever?
Disney cranked out TV series in the 90s, mostly knockoffs of their features such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, that always concluded with that sort of scenario. The cast of "teens" would gather around some amiable authority figure, who'd ask what they'd learned from their "adventure". As they were largely a boringly morally upright bunch it always fell to the token good-hearted screwball to be the patsy, usually fessing up to having turned from temptation in the nick of time.
Horrible to hear of such crap being played out in real life.
Happened to be out for dinner last night with a friend who has a daughter with the childhood form of diabetes. They are seriously considering some form of implant which makes management of the condition far easier, especially for a young woman going into puberty. But of course it's incredibly expensive. When I mentioned to her the success of the herceptin lobby, she said it had already been noted and was very much being taken into account. And why wouldn't you go down that route. If an exemption is being made for one drug, it's going to be hard for them to turn down other such worthy causes.
At least these kid's will be prepared for the corporate world, like meeting bullshit performance and sales targets, and writing reports that keep bosses and shareholders happy.
Too cynical? yes.
Um guys this is actually one of the few pieces of legislation in this batch that actually has been through "the system". It's stupid because any competent business could hire on probation anyway and providing they wrote a letter at month one and month two they could fire any new employee at month three. So the new law does nothing really that wasn't already available. So this isn't the worst law, just unnecessary given what we already had.
I was thinking just the same thing, because I personally began my own full time employment that way. I wanted to work for a particular company but they could not afford to hire me (so they claimed). So I agreed to work 3 months without pay on probation, just to get an in. I worked pretty damned hard, and was hired at the end of it, and subsequently did quite well out of them.
So the argument that current employment laws make it harder on employers to actually hire people is total bs. It's always possible to negotiate such a deal, if the worker is willing to sign up for it. Most people simply aren't. I don't know anyone else personally who ever did what I did.
I'm definitely not saying the way I started is a model for anyone else - I was simply fortunate in being a good employee for their type of work, and able to wear 3 months without pay. It was bloody hard. But I really wanted to work for this particular firm.
When I mentioned to her the success of the herceptin lobby, she said it had already been noted and was very much being taken into account.
That's the thing about this situation, there's no doubt in my mind that funding longer/more Herceptin has real merit, but I'm not a clincian and I don't know the competing interests. What price populism then? Cancer sufferers should like Key, but not diabetics?
I recall the working over that Cunliffe got when he said the buck stopped with him, does it now with Key?
Re: Testing in schools. Any teacher worth a damn tests the appropriate kids regularly to spot weaknesses in their teaching. It's a basic part of education. But it's just one part, probably the least important part, of the teaching process. The good teachers already know how the tests are going to go anyway.
Testing in schools. Any teacher worth a damn tests the appropriate kids regularly to spot weaknesses in their teaching.
Ben, agreed. What if the testing is so pervasive that it crowds out the enjoyment of learning? A structured classroom is essential, a curriculum too, but how would we feel if our kids came home devoid of enthusiasm and bored because their interests were relegated by the all consuming need to do another practice test? Realistically, this bill will reward teachers and schools that elevate test results above all other considerations.
there's no doubt in my mind that funding longer/more Herceptin has real merit, but I'm not a clincian and I don't know the competing interests.
Paul, I'm also not a clinician but I can't quite see how you're deciding on merit from what I've read.
"Competing interests" seems to be a red herring in this case. Not informed enough to get into a substantive debate but didn't Pharmac decide that the available clinical evidence is biased (with some studies suppressed by the drug company) and that it just does not show that 12 months is more beneficial than 9 weeks? I don't think they even made it to a stage where other priorities came into it.
Tony Ryall had better install a revolving door.
I like the way Peter put the decision about educational priorities earlier:
teachers will weigh the cow rather than feed it
There's a fascinating article in the New Yorker magazine about what makes a good teacher. It turns out that a large part of what makes a good teacher is listening, and a bunch of interpersonal skills that are difficult to test for.
What for me makes a good MP is a good listener. Someone who can listen to constituents, listen to experts, and take their advice and complaints on board constructively and create meaningful legislation.
This is a large part of what disturbs me so much about the legislation on testing and truancy - very little obvious consideration of the evidence about what is needed to improve schools, and simplistic solutions. They certainly haven't listened widely, and have no apparent desire to do so.
Sacha, Paul - the document that explains carefully but simply why Pharmac made their previous decision not to fund for more than 9 weeks (at that stage) is upthread on page 1. Having read it, I can't see how anyone would make the decision Ryall did.
Unless, of course, they were listening to the drug company. Either directly, or indirectly through the pressure of breast cancer groups who were being lobbied.
Call me bloody cynical, but I think that this might be the first move towards dismantling Pharmac completely, and replacing our buying model with something expensive and less effective.
Eddie - I have criticised the use of urgency three or four times now.
The paranoia over the comments is as George D notes, misplaced. I always turn off comments when linking to my weekly NBR column, so people comment over there.
As for tax cuts and bureaucracy, Lyndon correctly notes the tax cuts are already funded.
If I had had the chance to do a submission on the Education Amendment Bill I would have quoted from Temple Grandin, PhD, who has considerable wisdom on all things autism related.This is what she says about standardised testing:
'One complaint I am hearing from both parents and teachers is that the No Child Left Behind law makes it impossible to spend much time on subjects other than reading and math because school districts put so much emphasis on students passing tests in these subjects. Recently, I had a discussion with a mom about teaching reading. She told me that her daughter, who has reading problems, was not allowed to go outside for recess because she had to do reading drills. The girl was bored stiff and hated it. However, she quickly learned to read when her Mom taught her from a Harry Potter book. To motivate kids, especially those with autism spectrum disorders, you need to start with books the kids want to read'....[she then goes on to discuss how she herself couldn't read by 3rd grade until her mother worked out her unique learning style and found her the right books to engage her interest]... 'If my third grade teacher had continued trying to teach me to read with endless, boring drills, I would have failed the reading competency tests required by No Child Left Behind'.
Grandin, Temple (2008), The way I see it: a personal look at autism and Asperger's, Arlington, Future Horizons, p,45-6.
DPF - comments like:
I’ve previously blogged that passing bills under urgency without select committee scrutiny, will lead to flaws in the laws that will need to be corrected later.
It is of greater concern that the bills to be debated have not been made available to MPs at the first available opportunity.
are a lot milder than the language you would be using if Labour were pulling the same stunt. This isn't just about the flaws the process will bring, but about the abuse of the democratic process. I haven't heard you really criticise that.
On Parliament TV they are now debating the Education Amendment Bill. This is surely post modern politics!
DPF, I'm glad you are criticizing, but I do find it interesting what you criticisms actually are. Your criticism is about how it makes National look, rather than about it actually being bad. What do you really think? Is it bad or does it just look bad, to cram things through under urgency that are not in any way related to the financial meltdown. I personally think it is actually bad, AND it looks bad because of that.
I think that this might be the first move towards dismantling Pharmac completely, and replacing our buying model with something expensive and less effective.
Agreed, and I am so looking forward to the Nats explaining how boosting foreign pharma's profits fits with any of what they supposedly believe in. Heck, even the Herald editorial understands the core principles involved:
Bioethicists have a term called the rule of rescue. It refers to the powerful human imperative to save identifiable individuals whose lives are endangered without giving much thought to the many nameless people who may, therefore, be denied health care.
Other pharmaceutical companies, and other groups dedicated to the sufferers of any illness, will be encouraged that they, too, through special pleading, can garner some of the $180 million that the Government plans to spend on pharmaceuticals over the next three years.
Other juridictions report well-funded lobbying and cynical promotion of front groups. Add that in and this result seems like an inevitable outcome of NZ allowing direct-to-consumer advertising while resisting rampant spending through Pharmac's capped budget, with lightweight politicians easy meat in that particular sandwich.
On Parliament TV they are now debating the Education Amendment Bill
Gosh, Metiria Turei is fantastic.
Jolissa: What a great post re your 7 year-old. I always subscribed to the belief that "children were not vessels waiting to be filled (Testing) but fires waiting to be lit." How much killing of your child's fire can he/she stand? And of course there is no research showing that homework enhances learning especially for the under 11's! Home work which causes kids to drill holes in paper and cause stress in parents, is of course counter-productive. Puts them off learning for ever. Am so sorry for him/her.
Politics and Education do not mix, as will be shown currently in NZ.
And Sharples is passionately supporting the Bill's focus on standards.
Hey, we need a bit of Robyn live-bloggin this..
Any bets on how long before the Maori Party divorces the National /Act government? Their basic values really do not match. Already this week they have been forced to support the Tax Bill that in effect raised taxes for those earning between $14,000 and $20,000, and now they have to support this flawed Education Amendment Bill and accept the lack of democratic process, through unwarranted use of urgency and lack of select committee scrutiny.
I don't get the obsession with student quantified achievement. I thought schooling was more about learning.
And, I'll say, literacy and numeracy are handy skills, thats all.
Hilary, Pita Sharples seemed to be very much aligned in this case at least.