Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Absence of Malice

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  • Evan Yates,

    "Bunking" vs."Wagging".

    I always thought it was a North Island/ South Island thing (like bach vs. crib).

    Where did you come from and what term did you use to describe unauthorised absences from school in your era?

    Me: Whangarei | Late 70s, Early 80s = Bunking.

    Hamiltron, Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Nov 2006 • 190 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Timaru, and my 7th form year was 1989. It was always bunking, I don't think I even heard 'wagging' until I moved to Chch.

    That said, we also say 'bach'. Canterbury seems to share more linguistic mores with the lower North Island than with Otago/Southland. That's just an amateur impression though.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Lower Hutt, and Wanganui, across roughly the same time period: wagging! (I was aware of the term "bunking", but only from British books; we never actually used it.)

    Emma -- Laurie & Winifred Bauer's schoolyard vocabulary survey reached a similar conclusion about Christchurch & Wellington (both are within their "Central" dialect area).

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 921 posts Report Reply

  • Newsprint,

    Auckland - Pakuranga College - 7th Form 1989 - wagging

    and i never did (to my shame)

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    and i never did (to my shame)

    Do you mind if I ask why? That sounds weird, I know, but... did it not occur? Was it out of fear? Did you just never really want to?

    I guess I see a certain amount of disobedience as a positive, and I do worry about kids who will be 'good' even when the rule they're obeying doesn't make any sense.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    I always thought it was a North Island/ South Island thing (like bach vs. crib).

    That line is the Waitaki River. We in Canty have baches and our southern cousins have cribs.

    Marlborough Boys' wagged and in Christchurch I bunked. I didn't need to avoid school at MBC as I rowed and therefore nothing was expected of me in Summer and we had X-Static FM our school radio station to escape to & play music in winter.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaruna Kapinga,

    Wellington Girls - 7th Form 1994 wagging (and i didn't unitil 7th form)

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Repition, Emma already covered.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Dave Patrick,

    Waiuku College, late 70s, south of Auckland. Wagging.

    And being terrified of authority and a bit of a goodie-goodie, I only did it once. I was accredited in the 6th form, but we still had to come to school every day during the exams that we didn't have to sit. After the first two days of doing nothing and generally being bored shitless, about 10 of us (3 or 4 who had been accredited, the others who hadn't but weren't sitting the exams either) took off to the beach for the day.

    Next day the 3 or 4 of us who had been accredited were hauled in front of the deputy principal and castigated for not being at school, while the others got off scot-free. Not that I have a chip on my shoulder, or can remember the complete details to this day, oh no..... it was just the injustice of being singled out - I don;t think they really cared what the kids who weren't sitting exams because they knew they were going to fail anyway did, they were more concerned about the so-called "good" kids being seen misbehaving.

    Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 237 posts Report Reply

  • Karen White,

    Mt Maunganui College late 70's early 80's - wagging.

    My friends & I would show up to school for the first couple of lessons, then go to the closest friend's house (whose parents both worked) & watch Days of our Lives. Then go back to school for the last period. All dependant on what subject/teacher we had - some were more observant than others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 76 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaruna Kapinga,

    I was never particularly good at been 'bad' when I was growing up (ok I was a bit of a nerd) - despite hanging out with the 'cool' kids. Truth is the first time I ever wagged school I was 6th Form and a girlfriend and I got caught - pretty lame.

    The following year (7th Form) they instituted the the worlds stoopidest (yes, its a real word) rule where one was able to write their own absence notes??? - omg what on earth were these people thinking? For those with a truancy history they were simply opening the flood gates, for those without it was an opportunity to test those boundaries without fear of being reprimanded and for others it was a chance to slip off the radar completely.

    While I appreciate they were trying to instil some sense of responsibility in us there are certain decisions that a 17 year old, hormonal teenager should not be entrusted with - school vs snogging boyfriend definitely falls into this category.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    Do you mind if I ask why? That sounds weird, I know, but... did it not occur? Was it out of fear? Did you just never really want to?

    I didn't wag either (Central Hawkes Bay, mid 80's). I don't think it was fear, as I was always confident that I could get away with it. I just always felt that the options available to me out of school were a bit boring. The exception may have been in summer when swimming down at the river was appealing. But then I always had a choir to sing in, or a debate to participate in or a sports team to train for so I wouldn't have been able to swim for too long anyway!

    I guess I see a certain amount of disobedience as a positive, and I do worry about kids who will be 'good' even when the rule they're obeying doesn't make any sense.

    Anyone who has had to wirte any sort of report to any government department will know the value of knowing how to kowtow to the insensical rules that are put in front of us :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 181 posts Report Reply

  • Sayana,

    My 6th form year at Nelson College for Girls I took English, Maths, French, Latin, Music and Accounting. Latin and Music were both Correspondence courses and we had no real supervision, French was held up at Nelson College with the boys and had an appalling teacher who didn't believe that girls could do better than boys... Oh, and whenever the cricket was on, class was cancelled.

    So, there were twelve hours a week that I didn't feel a real need to be attending classes. The correspondence packs were easy enough to cram into a short frenzy just before due date, and despite the fact there were just 9 girls in the french class, we came 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th in class. Again, I was one of the bright lazy ones, so no-one took much notice when I wasn't there.

    Which we definitely called 'wagging'.

    Since Sep 2008 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Selwyn College, Auckland, 80s. Wagging.

    I did it a bit, maybe a week a year. Never caught. Good student, who cares?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Sayana,

    But then I always had a choir to sing in

    Hi Stuart - Susan Mitchell here from the good old days of NZNYC.

    I always made sure I was back at school for choir and orchestra practices - that they would notice and follow up on. Kinda difficult to fade into the background when you play the Double Bass.

    Since Sep 2008 • 50 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Parapaumu and Wellington College in the 80's, wagging - which I never did.
    Partly it was I was a 'good' student and didn't get into trouble, not so much for fear of punishment by the school but having to explain to my parents why I decided on a course of action that was not approved. The cringe factor in that was worth more then any number of detentions as a deterrant.
    Anyway, just because I was present didn't mean my mind was in the same place...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    St Peter's College, Auckland, 1996-2002: wagging. Never heard any other term for it.

    And I don't think I ever dared skip a day - perhaps stole a couple of hours away a couple of days a year around exam time, but that would have been about it. Yeah I was chicken, big whoop, wanna fight about it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1566 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    the value of knowing how to kowtow to the insensical rules that are put in front of us

    "insensical"

    This is a truly beautiful word which should be used much more widely.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1323 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    Lynfield College, early 90s - wagging. Never did it.

    Well, sort of - in 7th form, the German class was small enough that we did it via correspondence. The 6th and 7th form classes were combined and the German teacher basically just supervised us while we worked through the material. In the winter months, I would occasionally stay in the warmth and comfort of the Common Room instead of running through the rain to the classroom. I'd tell myself that it didn't matter where I did the work -- of course, if I stayed in the Common Room, I wouldn't actually do it....

    Come summertime, it had become a bit of a bad habit. Near the end of the year, I was in the Common Room, using the fact that I was working on the school magazine to justify not going to class, when the German teacher walked in, wordlessly dropped my correspondence course results in front of me and walked out again. I never got in trouble, but I sure felt guilty.

    I got a lousy mark for German in Bursary, too, so I guess it served me right.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    one was able to write their own absence notes

    When my mother instituted her ban on absence notes, I got dragged into the deputy head's office yet again. This time, though, it was to explain to me that absence notes were a MinEdu requirement, designed to ensure that schools weren't inventing pupils for funding purposes.

    It's possible that if they'd taken this 'explaining things' approach earlier, things might have gone more smoothly. As a grown-up technical writer and customer-service admin, one of the things I try to do as much as possible is explain to people the reasons why we do things.

    My friends & I would show up to school for the first couple of lessons, then go to the closest friend's house (whose parents both worked) & watch Days of our Lives. Then go back to school for the last period.

    Phew, for a moment there I thought I'd grown up on a different planet.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Latin and Music were both Correspondence courses and we had no real supervision

    Yeah, I'd forgotten that. I did fifth form french by Correspondence with no supervision at all. I also did it with no periods set aside to do it.

    I was one of the bright lazy ones

    This is deeply true, I can testify to that.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    Otumoetai College, 90s

    Only wagged a few classes here and there, often to go get Georgie Pie. The school had this weird policy that in 7th Form you could leave the school at lunch time and in study breaks and go anywhere you wanted but the only place you weren't allowed to go was the dairy just across the road.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Ngaruna Kapinga,

    ...MinEdu requirement, designed to ensure that schools weren't inventing pupils for funding purposes...

    Goodness me - and to think i've spent the last 10 years thinking these people were completely retarded.

    I completely agree with the 'why' (cause & effect) approach and find individuals are far more receptive when understanding 'why' Works on colleagues and is magic with my 4 & 14 year old too.

    Wellington • Since May 2008 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    "Bunking" vs."Wagging".

    I'd guess deep down it'll be a class thing.

    I was taken to England in 1977 and had my education there (my equiv. of 7th form was 1987).

    Bunking off was what we in the comprehensive school called it.

    Wagging was what the Grammar boys / characters from Enid Blyton & Biggles books did.

    My reason for long periods of absence was mainly that I liked the money I earned elsewhere... and as a working class lass my headmaster kindly offered to see if he could get me a job in the local chicken factory.

    Recently I discovered a secret thing. I hated sport on Weds arvo so disappeared from an early age. Turns out that I wasn't the only one: if you were the son of a local GP / Headteacher, you got to wander down the road and play golf. Not only was this not advertised, but the participants were actively banned from mentioning it so they could make sure the golf club maintained the right tone...

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Wellington, 1990 - wagging.
    Christchurch, 1995 - bunking.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4365 posts Report Reply

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