Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Who'd have thought?

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  • Hebe, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    Not to pile on here, but … this isn’t a “philosophy of education.” It’s a regime of quantification masquerading as a system of value. It’s part of the same long, slow cultural tragedy that sees managerialism eventually destroying the ethos and, well, point of every institution it invades.

    Absolutely agree; bloody box-tickers who love the "think outside the square" phrase because they cannot do just that.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I think the focus was this one was how well they did at university. And -- surprise! -- the kids from the liberal high school with a great pastoral culture and no uniforms (or even a really a discernable dress code) did very well in comparisons.

    That's useful but of course it depends on how many go to university (it might only be 5%, 10% at many schools). I heard several years ago that a certain school in Auckland had the highest proportional dropout rate from the University of Auckland BUT of course that can change year to year, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't preparing students well for university. It could be that large numbers of students from that school are expected to go to university when it isn't for them, and quickly they and their parents find this out.

    At my school I'd say there's a bit more realism (from the students and parents) about who is cut out for uni and keen on it, so those that I know who have gone there have all done well.

    One area that schools really do need to work their arses off these days is in careers so that every kid has got an idea of what their options are and can choose ones that fit for them. Rather than just telling them all "you're going to uni", "you're going to be a plumber like your dad", "you're going to work for your auntie grooming pets", or whatever.

    Since Nov 2006 • 875 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Yamis,

    One area that schools really do need to work their arses off these days is in careers so that every kid has got an idea of what their options are and can choose ones that fit for them

    Can teenagers really know what fits them, career-wise? I think it’s great for them to have a look at the options (and particularly if they can go out and talk to people who do them), but don’t most people blunder around a bit before they find the right thing?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    but don’t most people blunder around a bit before they find the right thing?

    Well, speaking for me & mine- yep.
    A lot of my siblings were attracted to the health field - I hated the very idea. I knew I could write, I knew I could speak, and I knew I could commit various forms of art...50 years later, I am still wondering/worrying about what it is that I do...but
    I do know an indecently large amount about medical matters.
    And I really know that I hate the commercial writing & art set up-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • James Norcliffe, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    Next item is the agendum

    Christchurch • Since Sep 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Lilith __,

    Can teenagers really know what fits them, career-wise? I think it’s great for them to have a look at the options (and particularly if they can go out and talk to people who do them), but don’t most people blunder around a bit before they find the right thing?

    Well the answer to that question from my experience is that no, many teenagers don't really know exactly, or even vaguely in some cases what they want to do when they near the end of school but unfortunately they have to leave and do something other than sit on the couch and play Playstation until they work it out. Unless their parents are feakin awesome! :)

    But it is vital that schools discuss with students what they're interested in, what they're good at, what some options are, or else we end up with kids with unemployed parents defaulting to that option, or following their family into low paid unskilled work when they don't need to go that way, or going to university because their mum or dad went there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 875 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Email me and I'll tell you where we are, but there are 110 public kindergartens in Auckland and most of them have vaguely similar philosophies. We're all run by the same outfit.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers, in reply to Yamis,

    I heard several years ago that a certain school in Auckland had the highest proportional dropout rate from the University of Auckland BUT of course that can change year to year, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't preparing students well for university. It could be that large numbers of students from that school are expected to go to university when it isn't for them, and quickly they and their parents find this out.

    I went to the "certain school" I think you're talking about, and yeah, anecdotally this seems entirely accurate. At the beginning of the year, literally half the guys in my 7th form class were taking the same Law Intermediate lectures I was. Because we'd all been told to, basically. Within a few weeks it was noticeable how many had dropped out once they realized that there was no-one keeping them in those lectures other than themselves. A few drifted back as mature students, others twigged that they didn't have to be lawyers and could switch to more interesting majors if they wanted, and the rest dropped out to ... go scuba diving in Madagascar? Serve beer in the Bay of Islands? Work for Daddy? Who knows? I guess Facebook could tell me what happened to those guys, but I never kept up. One or two are probably lawyers, but the thought of that is altogether too depressing.

    On the other hand, though, one guy I did get back in touch with via Facebook chucked in the job he drifted into after dropping out of his degree early on, went back to University, and graduated this year (at 37) with a BA. So inspiring things can still happen, even to those of us who went, you know, there.

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 432 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I seem to know so many people who trained in one thing, sometimes to a high level, but are now doing something utterly different. And a few who’ve switched careers repeatedly.

    Most people have more than one talent or aptitude.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    Most people have more than one talent or aptitude.

    Also, it is possible to just get bored using only one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red, in reply to Caleb D'Anvers,

    … this isn’t a “philosophy of education.” It’s a regime of quantification masquerading as a system of value. It’s part of the same long, slow cultural tragedy that sees managerialism eventually destroying the ethos and, well, point of every institution it invades

    Well said!

    And like any system of quantification it can be "gamed" - e.g., teaching to the test and exclusion of pupils unlikely to pass (in the case of national standards) or dividing work into the smallest possible units to increase the count of achievements (in the case of PBRF).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Tamara, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    Definitely, our one is Eden/Epsom and it's awesome! Makes the transition to NS-bound primary school all the more tricky though.

    New Zealand • Since Oct 2010 • 100 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    It’s part of the same long, slow cultural tragedy that sees managerialism eventually destroying the ethos and, well, point of every institution it invades

    The point to life saving is saving lives, right? Not when the managers are in charge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    I know it's trendy to pile on about school uniforms, but they have a function that was valuable to me growing up, in a poor family that lived in rich, poor and middling areas. They don't confer magic powers of discipline and pride in kids, but they're a democratising outfit.

    You lose many of the shitty status cues embodied in mufti clothing, and it's also one outfit that had to be kept in reasonable wear, and had nothing to do with fashion. Even at the decile 1 school I attended (before deciles existed), I dreaded mufti day, because I had nothing modern, or first-hand, or the slightest bit cool to wear. It was obviously much worse in places like Epsom.

    Of course, in these days of ridiculously over-priced uniforms, I think that egalitarian aim is undermined, but still.

    As for single-sex schools, I can also vouch for the fact it's a very different kettle of fish for girls, often. I went to 9 schools; there is no comparison between 8 of them and the one state girls' school I went to. I'm sure the school itself was important - maybe a Selwyn would have been just as liberating - but I've heard the same from others who had the same experience (and I think studies reflect that girls tend to do better overall).

    An interesting conundrum that one. Part of the objectives of education is to do a bit of societal indoctrination - how soon do girls need to accustomise themselves to subtle and not-so sexism from their peers and "superiors" (beyond possible family influences)?

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 477 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Not when the managers are in charge.

    Jesus.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to TracyMac,

    I know it’s trendy to pile on about school uniforms, but they have a function that was valuable to me growing up, in a poor family that lived in rich, poor and middling areas. They don’t confer magic powers of discipline and pride in kids, but they’re a democratising outfit.

    And fair enough. Western Springs’ non-uniform status is something of a delight, though. Kids basically dress up as their favourite youth cult – from punk rock (including mohawks) to Paris Hilton. I used to really enjoy the spectacle of that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18888 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    They don’t confer magic powers of discipline and pride in kids, but they’re a democratising outfit.

    They are not democratising. They remove the fundamental freedom of every human being to control their appearance and self-presentation, and give it to some jumped up busy bodies.

    Apart from anything else, no one would ever dream of making teachers wear a uniform these days. But wouldn't that be just as democratic?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1362 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    no one would ever dream of making teachers wear a uniform these days.

    Actually I have always thought that this is a capital idea! Mortar boards and gowns, it’ll look just like Hogwarts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1806 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to TracyMac,

    You lose many of the shitty status cues embodied in mufti clothing

    True, though I recall the wealthier kids favouring expensive optional blazers, better shoes and suchlike. The girls would also use whatever latitude they could negotiate to preserve social status displays in jewelery, etc.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16665 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    The point to life saving is saving lives, right? Not when the managers are in charge.

    Talk about anti-PC gone mad.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4304 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers, in reply to Scott Chris,

    It can't be called a "trial" when you take an incomplete, poorly-thought-out policy and implement it nationally. Attempting to make such a claim just debases language and makes perfectly good words meaningless.

    A trial is when you test something on a smaller scale to tease out the issues and resolve them before wasting resources on a much more vast scale throughout an entire system.

    It's plain to me that "waste" to the National party is something they don't like....and anything they do like can't be - by definition - wasteful. This is obvious in almost every policy area: public transport, health care, education, fiscal policy.

    WRT fiscal policy, Bill English says he wants lower interest rates and a lower Kiwi dollar....despite that policy sustaining and expanding the debt bubble and taking money out of the pockets of savers......and imposing higher import costs on a country that now imports virtually everything from shoes to toothpaste.

    Their policy set as a whole is incoherent.

    In a word...."wasteful".

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 280 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Selwyn went mufti while I was there, so I got to see first hand the effect of the change. I preferred having no uniform, because it was less of a hassle, and more comfortable, and you weren't instantly identified as a schoolkid in public. The teachers liked it because enforcing uniform was totally not what the hippies teaching there were about. Fashion conscious kids certainly preferred it.

    Was it cheaper or more expensive? I couldn't say, not ever having spent one cent on my clothes until about the age of 20. My own wardrobe didn't change at all, and I don't believe that anyone else's did either - it's not like they didn't have mufti clothes which they instantly changed into every evening, which they went out to parties and hung out with their friends in, and wore on the weekends.

    So probably the only real downside left to consider was whether a class marker had been created, that rich kids could be identified by their clothes. But I don't honestly think it worked out like that. Rich kids who wanted to be identified simply invited people to their mansions and the word got out. Those who wanted to hide it managed to do. Poor kids who felt self conscious took time with their appearance and looked good anyway. In the end, the quality of clothing seemed to me to come down to whether or not they cared, and cliques formed around that, far more than around actual wealth. Rich nerds were still nerds, poor trendy kids were still trendy.

    All of that said, I am the perfect example of someone not attuned to the differences because I didn't need to be, being both wealthy and nerdy. The poor trendy kids might have felt very keenly their impoverished clothing compared to the rich trendy kids. But none of them said they wanted to go back to uniform, ever.

    I can't comment on whether parents paid more or less after mufti came in, on an annual basis. Gut feeling is that it didn't change at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    One child went to a uniform school and one to a non uniform requiring one. I definitely preferred the later. Uniforms require a huge outlay at the beginning and it has to be exactly the right thing bought from the right place (usually the school) so no way to discount, and repeated as child grows. Unflattering for most body shapes and impractical in a changeable climate. Also required expensive drycleaning. Whereas non uniform clothes, including shoes, were just everyday clothes often from Farmers, Hallensteins and Hannahs, and adjustable for all weathers. The majority of kids wore a more-or-less uniform of jeans, shorts and tshirts. But ranged from top hats and evening wear to full drag. Uniforms also tended to get washed less often than ordinary clothes and a roomful of damp wool on a wet winter day is not pleasant.

    I remember one teacher saying how much she preferred teaching in a non uniform school. Not only did she not have to waste any time on enforcement, but it was much simpler to identify and get to know the kids and easier to recall them when talking to parents. Much easier to confuse them when they were a sea of grey.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I can't comment on whether parents paid more or less after mufti came in, on an annual basis. Gut feeling is that it didn't change at all.

    Like Hilary says, for poorer parents uniform is a nightmare, because it's a big outlay all at once. And then it requires being able to keep the same sets of clothes clean and dry all the time. If the school kilt is $160, how many are you going to have? Our kids are now both at (different) non-uniform high schools, and it's so much easier for us.

    I went to a school that was uniform in junior school and mufti in senior. It's completely different from having a "mufti day". That meant fretting over what you were going to wear on the only day you got any choice. Seventh form was picking up whatever was closest on the floor.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4366 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Selwyn went mufti while I was there

    Any problems with gang colours (even in Kohimaramara)? I'm generally anti school uniform, believing it to be part of a system of regimentation, but have read teachers who assert that if they didn't have it, fights over colours would be uncontrollable.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4459 posts Report Reply

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