Thank you. It's taken me years to get my head around brains and difference. Not good or bad or better or worse: just different.
I was honoured to be asked, and it's a very small return for the way that you've helped me to change my thinking over the years, Steven.
Because in New Zealand two things are at the top of the stats: rugby and domestic violence. This is NZR’s chance to start defeating one with the other.
We will know that the wider New Zealand community is starting to treat domestic violence as serious crime when an All Blacks player, or a Super Whatever-Number-It-Is player, donates his man of the match award to Women's Refuge.
Steve Maharey has a good piece about on-line learning in the Dom Post this morning: Delivering and education for the 21st century.
In other words, the key issue is not how we deliver education – in school, online, blended, block course – what matters is if all students are getting the best education. If, for example, online learning translates into receiving large amounts of content to be read, memorised and regurgitated then the student is being short changed.
This is the model many of the new mass online providers of "education" are using around the world at the moment. It hardly qualifies as education. It simply gives people the opportunity to access content. Learning is another matter.
The minister is right when she says that new technology offers students and teachers exciting new possibilities. But those possibilities will only be positive and lend themselves to great learning if it is understood that the technology is merely a delivery mechanism. On its own it changes nothing.
What has to change is the model of learning that will ensure all learners, regardless of the mode in which they learn, get a 21st century education. That means they come out of our schools as flexible, creative, innovative people; that they know how to learn for themselves; that they know a lot; that they know how to create new knowledge for themselves and; that they know what to do with the knowledge.
Given his experience as a university lecturer and vice-Chancellor of a university that has the most developed tertiary distance education programme in New Zealand, I think that what he says is worth listening too.
I home educated three children who are now adults.
It's the word "I" that makes the difference. Yes, kids with committed carers can and do thrive with home schooling, and on-line delivery of home schooling is can surely be part of that. It's far from clear that kids without that committed carer supervising their education will do well with on-line education. And in fact, the evidence with respect to on-line charter schools in the US shows that most of the schools are abject failures.
These are all good arguments about the advantages of being physically present in a classroom and a school.
I think there's also another set of arguments around just how bloody hard on-line teaching, and on-line learning is. As a teacher, I know that it takes an enormous amount of work to prepare distance materials, far more so than preparing internal courses.
And as a former student, I know that the big issues are motivation, and getting immediate feedback. People in a classroom have someone they can ask, straightaway. People learning on-line don't. They have ways of contacting a tutor, but not that immediate individualised response.
My guess is that there are some kids for whom on-line learning could be great. But for many it would just be another step towards disengaging from education altogether.
Steven, I have no doubt whatsoever of your good faith. From the bits and pieces I've picked up over the years, I know for sure that over the years, you've dealt with some extraordinarily difficult stuff. And done so with grace.
I guess the thing about making it a gendered argument is that for the most part, in general language and general social structures and general social attitudes, when women are subjected to sexual violence, and domestic violence, the question is always asked, "What did she do to provoke that?"
Yes, we know that #notallmen ask that question. We know that #notallmen are violent. We know that #notallmen think women who wear short skirts or strip or go out running by themselves or walk home at night or ... or.... or ... are asking for it.
The thing is, as soon as someone says, #notallmen, we are supposed to spend our energy dealing with the one (or several, or even many) men who are not implicated, instead of trying to work on deconstructing and dismantling the social structures that enable violence against women. All women.
And I say "all women" because as a 50 year old woman, I still worry about my physical safety when I have to walk from my office across a darkened campus to my car park. Because I know that if I was attacked, someone would say, "Well, what was she doing, walking alone by herself."
I was on RadioNZ last week, talking about the woman who was attacked by the rugby team. And on cue, early this week, a letter arrived in my mailbox at work, pointing out that the woman had asked for it. The person who wrote the letter used a male-gendered name.
If we have to constantly divert to say #notallmen, then we never get time to deal with the bigger social structure. We have to constantly deal with the individual instances, instead of looking at broader patterns. And the broader pattern shows us that violence by (some) men against women is tacitly accepted and even condoned.
We need to be able to focus on that pattern of condoning violence by (some) men against women.
That's why #notallmen is a derail. It forces us from the general to the particular. And when we do that, we miss the broader pattern.
I also think that if we can start to focus on the social structures that enable violence against women, we will also start the dismantle the social structures that enable violence against children, and enable violence in general.
So... #notallmen. Yes, I agree, #notallmen Not the man I've lived with for over quarter of a century, not most of the men I know in everyday life, not the men I've become acquainted with through PAS.
But let's try to focus on the big patterns, and start to break them down and dismantle them.
Nga mihi, e hoa.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had such orators among our political leaders.
You tend to get tall-poppied to death anytime you demonstrate extraordinary speaking skills in NZ.
And talking about Sanders’ single payer health-care as a massive tax increase when most economists agree it would decrease the overall cost of healthcare in the US is beyond disingenuous.
What’s not disingenuous is thinking about how big tax increases play out in an election campaign. Yes, overall healthcare costs would decrease, and yes, many individuals would be better off with big tax increases and big reductions in healthcare costs. But campaigning on a platform that promises big tax increases is a sure way to provide extraordinary ammunition to your opponents. The problem is not necessarily the tax increases per se, it is the politics of campaigning on big tax increases.
Being idealistic and hoping for extraordinary change is great, and we need those ideals in order to keep on pushing us in better and better directions. But we need a big dose of pragmatism too: what do we need to do in order to be elected?
I want both: the ideals, and the on-going pragmatism to work with people to get elected and actually get the opportunity to do things.
I'm going to have to spend a lot of time processing that story.