Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Moving from frustration to disgust

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  • Paul Barker, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    You are on to it Jackie. Those who take don't understand those that give.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2012 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    One of the things people don’t seem to understand about teaching is this: you use all of your physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual energy, every day. It’s bloody exhausting.

    Too right.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15769 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    One of the things people don’t seem to understand about teaching is this: you use all of your physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual energy, every day. It’s bloody exhausting. And that’s just the bit of teaching that’s the most obvious.

    Oh, can I +that a gazillion?

    And thanks, Yamis, for your comment, too.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1732 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If you look at the actual report, there are only 3167 schools in the whole sample, so 2000 schools represents a majority of schools, where one star pupil might get to Oxbridge some years. 1300 schools (over a third) haven’t sent anyone there in three years. (My very well resourced and privileged state sixth form sent maybe two students the year I was there).

    But that's still not the same thing as the "next 2000 schools". Tom's second post provides a much better picture of the situation, which is that Oxbridge and private school graduates are highly overrepresented in the UK Parliament, but not totally dominant.

    The ultimate question, though, is how to stop the wealthy embarking on a self-perpetuating cycle wherein they only socialise with each other, whether that's through schools or through universities. In most ways that's the crux, rather than the actual education - a lot of those 3167 schools will provide just as good an education as somewhere like Eton, but they can't provide the same networking opportunities. That's the real driving force there. NZ's university system doesn't allow for self-segregation in quite the same way, fortunately; it's high school that does.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Jane Pearson, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Kia ora Jackie from a fellow teacher. You are so right about the daily dynamics of teaching. Being with a class of children can be so many things - energising, exhausting, exciting, emotional - all in the space of a day, an hour, a few minutes. It was not until a few years ago when I had a teacher aide in the room all day with a boy with special needs that I had another's perspective on the constant and complex interactions happening between me and the children. I remain as fully committed as ever and feel boosted by the discussion on this thread - thank you Russell and the PA community.

    I also agree with Tim Kong about the role teachers need to play in the conversations about change and new issues. When national standards were first mooted, the professional body focused on the effect on teachers which just made us look self-interested instead of looking at what it meant to shoehorn children into a learning progress model of one size fits all.

    Since Feb 2010 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Peter O'Connors opinion piece in the DomPost

    National standards measuring narrowly defined curriculum outputs will be used to generate blunt and meaningless league tables. These will in turn create fear and suspicion about neighbourhood schools. This is designed to increase the public appetite for private forms of education, including charter schools. The attacks, justified with the cliched spin of improving student achievement, are essentially about reducing the role of state provision of education.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1459 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    But just five private schools send more pupils to Oxford and Cambridge than the next 2000 schools combined, and nowadays almost the entire British political elite is narrowly drawn from those who matriculated at the Oxbridge universities.

    That’s how a filter system works. I see nothing sinister in these numbers.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Scott Chris,

    That’s how a filter system works. I see nothing sinister in these numbers.

    (Cue Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition)

    <snide>
    Allan B'Stard: I'm sorry, I don't speak unemployed!
    </snide>

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    It’s like Downton bloody Abbey.

    An exchange of letters in the Press over the last few days:
    1) Visiting Wellingtonian is startled to hear racist abuse bandied about at a Christs College/CBHS rugby game – “Your Mum’s our cleaner”, the little shits said to a non-European kid.
    2) Shocked responses from a few Chch residents
    3) A defence from Christs College principal – I don’t have it handy, but the gist was that the two schools have a long and noble tradition of bandying puerile chants about and he really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
    4) A letter today from a professional housekeeper for various families at the school, understandably pissed off at visible manifestations of class system.

    Sadly that rang true of my time down there, and the strong presence of well-heaeled boarders from the wop-wops was a likely aggravating factor. Despite the fact that my ancestors probably landed here first. If the guilty parties weren’t too ignorant to tell the difference between old-genners and FOBs, then they were too arrogant to tell the difference. Hell, I found even Dunedin more accepting.

    I suspect it’s not much better in Auckland, where it’s the same but with the Nouveau Riche instead of the 1st Four Ships.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to DeepRed,

    I suspect it’s not much better in Auckland, where it’s the same but with the Nouveau Riche instead of the 1st Four Ships.

    I'm not sure about that, TBH. Maybe I'm just not rubbing shoulders with "the right people", but my experience with people from the "upper social classes" is that there isn't really significant social stratification in Auckland. There's absolutely financial stratification, and probably some degree of internal snobbery at places like Kings, but being socially mobile across "classes" is entirely possible.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • tim kong, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    With no disrespect to Jackie or Yamis - I think the heartfelt plight of the teacher speeches are to some degree irrelevant in this discussion. There are many people in this country who work damn hard, in their professions for the same or less money - and they should be no less valued. By all of us.

    The conversation needs to be around what we value in public education. Not just the role of the teachers. The role of assessment, the purpose of measuring, the role and implications of technology, the focus on societal needs. The place of a curriculum that has the capacity to be rich and varied, if those tasked with delivering it - take up the challenge.

    We need to be talking to those in political power, and those in our communities, so that they truly understand and value the essence of that curriculum. So that they see the power in the key competencies. That they see and embrace the holistic nature of learning, the value of life-long learning. The need to actively support and value that nature, across our society.

    Because being measured to ascertain success or failure isn't learning. We don't stop learning when we fail a drivers license, or don't get a job. Humans learn and learn and learn.

    The focus needs to be not on the measures - but on the process. But process is often deep and messy and can't be shared in a headline. So we focus on measures.

    We as teachers, need to see and talk of ourselves as learners, as part of the process. Not part of the problem, as they do. Nor the only solution, as some would have us be. But humble, valid, vital parts of the ongoing learning process. That means being honest when we stuff up, and proud when we do well and make a difference.

    That is why National Standards and league tables are almost irrelevant - because they are merely bit parts in a process. We need to celebrate the process.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    my experience with people from the “upper social classes” is that there isn’t really significant social stratification in Auckland.

    One thing I do wonder about is how much blunting effect Dilworth has on the rise of real social stratification in Auckland. After all, by definition a Dilworth boy comes from a disadvantaged background. However, they socialise with the Dio girls (which school is literally over the back fence) and thus gain entrance into the elevated social circles in which those girls move. Auckland is also very much more ethnically mixed than Christchurch, so sports players will encounter their stereotypes on the pitch regularly (and probably lose to said stereotypes several times during their school lives) as well as encountering them socially.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to tim kong,

    Yeah, that. Although not the bit about my rant being irrelevant because, you know.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3112 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    understand and value the essence of that curriculum. So that they see the power in the key competencies. That they see and embrace the holistic nature of learning, the value of life-long learning. The need to actively support and value that nature, across our society.

    Another dreadful aspect of National Standards- it killed the real buzz around the new curriculum.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1354 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to tim kong,

    Nor the only solution, as some would have us be. But humble, valid, vital parts of the ongoing learning process.

    Emphasising working closely with parents might blunt that 'reason' for notional standards.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15769 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Totally. Undermines the whole carefully-constructed and world-leading model.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15769 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Auckland is also very much more ethnically mixed than Christchurch, so sports players will encounter their stereotypes on the pitch regularly (and probably lose to said stereotypes several times during their school lives) as well as encountering them socially.

    So is the Thurston College controversy an isolated case, or the tip of the iceberg?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to DeepRed,

    So is the Thurston College controversy an isolated case, or the tip of the iceberg?

    Very hard to tell. That part of Auckland has a reputation for being very racist, heavily populated with immigrants from societies and cultures that are very racially-intolerant (a colleague lives a few streets away from the proposed site, so it's a local's perspective). This is the area that threw their toys over suggestions of renaming the local board Te Irirangi instead of Howick, after all.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    That part of Auckland has a reputation for being very racist, heavily populated with immigrants from societies and cultures that are very racially-intolerant (a colleague lives a few streets away from the proposed site, so it’s a local’s perspective). This is the area that threw their toys over suggestions of renaming the local board Te Irirangi instead of Howick, after all.

    How about ‘Orange County South’? It’s racism all right, but of the Michelle Malkin variety rather than the Kyle Chapman variety. It's also the same kind of tension that led up to Los Angeles '92, only on steroids.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3912 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Mea culpa, I'm ex Dilworth and then Massey High School from 14 years old and on. Whenever it comes up in conversation I always start by apologising for my humble origins for some reason.
    I note that Dilworth was started to take on those children whose lot in life had been to be from a poor background but some other criteria is that they were to be intelligent and reasonably well brought up. They were and are selected to a standard; cherry picking if you will. This was dropped for a period in the seventies and then reinstated I understand as they didn't want to end up as a social service for difficult cases.
    I didn't see any difference in the quality of education I received in either school. Dilworth was transformative for me in that it took me from a very difficult situation at home into a far more settled [and disciplined] setting which I suspect is the case for a lot of it's pupils.
    I've done well, very well [financially & etc] and so have a lot of the old boys also most of my friends from Massey are in a good position.
    I have never to my knowledge been selected through my schooling and most of the social stratification I've encountered in NZ has been via wealth. I was acutely conscious of class whilst working in the UK both from the bottom as a dustman and then mixing with relatives from a "higher social standing" in a system I barely understood or new how to navigate in but I thankfully was essentially without caste as being from the colonies gives few cues for people to work from.
    In NZ I have encountered someone in a high position in one of the big accounting firms who was employing new interns or whatever the hell they call them and had been told to only take on people from the "right schools" -this was ChristChurch.
    When I questioned him he said that 'you can't polish a turd'. He was English and didn't seem too troubled by what he was doing.- Back in England now.
    I would say that NZ does have a vague class divide but isn't that good at it ........yet.
    Race is another can of worms.

    Since Apr 2010 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Rob S,

    I know that in the UK the kind of young people who tended to get grants and scholarships for low income earners often had self employed parents with plenty of cash, but little of it declared. Or their parents were divorced and they lived with Mum, who nominally had no money, but they turned up at school on the new motorbike Dad had bought them.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4221 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Yeah, that. Although not the bit about my rant being irrelevant because, you know.

    Likewise. I was responding to an observation that you made Tim!!! Not claiming that that was the main issue. Too intellectual for me :)

    I don't know about the Dilworth example though. How many students are changed for life because they went there and got to mix with some Dio girls if they weren't too shy? I was too shy to mix with girls in my own flamin class when I was at high school. It's a city of 1,400,000. It's more that similar sort of opportunity over a much wider area across dozens and dozens of schools in Auckland.

    There are so many melting pot schools that have a range of 'deciles' within them.

    In West Auckland alone going roughly west to east there's Massey High, Waitakere College, Rutherford College, Henderson High, St Doms, Liston College, Avondale College, Kelston Boys and Girls, Lynfield College, Green Bay High, Mt Albert Grammar (out of interest Steve Price is coaching their league team this year).

    Mind you I shouldn't just cherry pick from West Auckland because everybody knows that Westside is where it's at, cos' if you're from the west side of your town then make them other suckas bow down.

    Stat attack: From the MoE website - "Currently the ethnic breakdown of school rolls in Auckland is European 42%, Pasifika 21%, Asian 18%, Māori 15%, Others 4%".

    http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/PublicationsAndResources/AnnualReport/AnnualReport11/DetailedInformation/Schooling.aspx

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Yamis,

    I don’t know about the Dilworth example though

    I thought of it because it's the one way that otherwise-isolated kids from Dio/Cuth's/Kings/etc are likely to encounter kids who aren't from their parents' financial class while in social settings during their teens. Those schools are a pretty rarefied atmosphere, by and large.

    As for the Big 4 example, having been involved in recruitment while employed within one of the Big 4 I didn't notice overt bias towards high school, or university; we wanted smart, but I didn't pick any particular educational profile. We had a huge range, even amongst the interns, though we were also considered to be the least-pretentious member of the Big 4 which may have played some part.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Chris, in reply to Rob S,

    I note that Dilworth was started to take on those children whose lot in life had been to be from a poor background but some other criteria is that they were to be intelligent and reasonably well brought up.

    Proposed Dilworth school motto: Plurimus Probus De Pauperum (The most deserving of the poor)

    edit: Alas something got lost in translation. Google translate: A opus in profectus

    Auckland • Since Feb 2012 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    OT by and large but...

    Is there much difference between Dio and St Cuths? I heard years and years ago that St Cuths girls were given a more well rounded education and were more tolerant.

    Any truth to that?

    Are we talking Oxford and Cambridge?

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

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