Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Absence of Malice

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  • Islander,

    Wagging in CHCH, 1950s and '60s...

    Didnt do any of it at primary school but the phys.ed teacher never knew I existed for the first year at Aranui High. Thereafter, as a pupil librarian, I had the burgeoning library as my bolthole for classes or events (cadet days for instance) that I loathed-

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

  • Newsprint,

    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.

    You are quite right. I was good in a bad way. Got it sorted a bit later in life...

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    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.

    How bizarre. Wouldn't the enrolment form, signed by the parent, and, y'know, a legal document, be a better indication that the pupil was real rather than a scribbled letter "Johnny was sick yesterday"?

    I can just imagine a headmaster turning up to Ministry audit with a box of absence notes for sick kids and dentist appointments and slamming it down on the desk. "Look, you can't say that these kids aren't real, here's the proof that they exist, but aren't ever here!"

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Islander wagged at Aranui High - blows the class thing out of the water. Oh the imprint Christchurch school snobberey has on one.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Stuart Coats,

    "insensical"

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

    Well, it goes to show that I wasn't paying attention in English class. But the more I think about it the more I like it in the sense that these rules make you angry

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 179 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Scuola Media Eugenio Colorni, 'bigiare'. They didn't see a lot of me in my middle year of intermediate school, and I have no clue to this day how I wasn't held back. My mother, who later got the inside goss, claims it was a hard-fought battle by my Italian teacher, whose arch-enemy on this occasion was the English teacher - one of the subjects in which I was "gravely insufficient" (you've got to love the phrasing) and deservedly so. Did I mention I was never there? Sometimes you can shine by being absent but school I guess isn't one of those times.

    I wish I could remember what I did about the absence slips. I'm pretty sure we had them, and I think I'd remember forging them. Mystery.

    One of my favourite trips was to piazza duomo, with a couple of friends - or not. One of the stops was always Luini's to buy the arch-delicious panzerotto, a sort of miniature calzone. To this day (I took my son on our last trip) the little shop has two parallel queues going out and across the pedestrian-only street, at all times of the day. I was in Milan there during the worst of the financial crash and I pontificated that the Luini family could probably take over Bear Stearns without much batting of eyelids.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I wagged from high school a few times though not by any means regularly. Mostly my friend and I would go up to her house and steal her mother's booze. One day her older brother and his mates came home for a "study break" and got very amusingly stern with us before realising that he was on reasonably thin ice himself.

    I can also recall a time or two when I was seen on the streets by a teacher who very pointedly looked the other way as she went past. Not to mention those days in sixth and seventh form when I never quite made it out of the common-room (does it still count as wagging if you spend the day on school property and just don't go to class?)

    Yesterday I finally told my mother about my truant history. She claims to have been totally unaware.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 690 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Wagging. Wellington, mid/late 90s. And I never did it. Why? Not worth the effort. Small pvt school that actually noticed when kids went missing and tried to find out where they were. I didn't dislike school enough to go to the effort of eluding capture efforts... [ok, I was a nerd and mostly liked school!]. I always found it more productive to be amused by dumb rules that futilely rail against them.

    Plus - Strathmore. What is there to do in Strathmore in the middle of the day?? Except for Strathmore cake kitchen. Mmmmm. Cake kitchen.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I wish I could remember what I did about the absence slips. I'm pretty sure we had them, and I think I'd remember forging them.

    Stroke of Evil Genius. My high school filed the first absence note as an example of parents' handwriting, to which all future absence notes would be compared.

    I forged the first one, even though I'd legitimately been sick.

    My mother, who later got the inside goss, claims it was a hard-fought battle by my Italian teacher, whose arch-enemy on this occasion was the English teacher

    Working out that my English teacher (Janet) and my Biology teacher hated each other was a seminal and deeply useful moment. He fought hard for me right through senior school - though slightly less effectively after he was caught (by the kid picking up the absence slips) showing me where the scars for a breast reduction operation went. These things are so easily misinterpreted.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Oh yeah, we had the same seventh form "privilege" of being allowed off school property when we didn't have classes. Except for one day when the deputy head, Dr Clough who when in a rage sounded remarkably like the headmaster in The Wall, decided that too many of us were going out one particular lunchtime and stood in the middle of the road yelling at us all to get back to school. I muttered something about a doctor's appointment and kept on walking.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 690 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    one of the subjects in which I was "gravely insufficient"

    Whoa, hey, wait a minute. Giovanni was 'gravely insufficient' in English?


    LOLZ

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Karen White,

    <I can also recall a time or two when I was seen on the streets by a teacher who very pointedly looked the other way as she went past>

    Mr Wigglesworth (true. innumerable nicknames) the accounting teacher could sometimes be spotted out the back with the other - usually wagging - surfers on a really good surf day

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 75 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Whoa, hey, wait a minute. Giovanni was 'gravely insufficient' in English?

    There was an add for chewing-gum on the telly in those days in which some girl said "it's good", and my (older) sister was shocked to realise I couldn't understand it. That was after two (nominal) years of English. A crash course it wasn't.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7315 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Nothing wrong with wagging, but this kind of attitude:

    Finally, my form teacher had some kind of conniption fit. I was absent. She phoned my house, but couldn't get an answer. She started dragging my friends out of class and interrogating them as to my whereabouts. "I know she's bunking", she said, several times.

    Bit of a shitter, wasn't it Janet, that I turned out to have glandular fever. And then my mother went and publicly pwned you at Parent-Teacher Evening and said she wouldn't be writing any more absence notes, on the grounds that I was old enough to be working and wouldn't have to bring Notes From My Mum if I took a sick day.

    Hints at one of the major causes behind the present day truancy and problems in the NZ education system. You go to great lengths to detail your daring acts Emma, you mock your teacher for suspecting you, you dropped your friends in a hole, you dote on your parents pwning your teacher, clearly using your mother's trust in you to find an easier loophole to hide your deviousness. Alot of teachers leave NZ, it's more about the attitudes passed on to the children by the older generation than the students themselves.

    Exactly the same situation as the drinking problem, the older generation aren't good at setting a good enough example or knowing when to stop, let it go Emma.

    Janet was trying to do her job. Perhaps the reason you got away with it so long was that your teachers liked you and saw your ability and didn't think dragging you through the mud would do you any good, but perhaps it may have. We can't be teenagers forever.

    and Janet, if you're reading this. I would like to see her develop her skills in creative writing too.

    When you breed a culture where the teacher is not respected, regardless of how good or bad they are, you not only undermine your own child's education, but by peer corroboration, the education of their fellow students too.

    All it really takes is one parent in a class, and that parent is seen as cooler than the other parents because he or she will be down with the teeangers. This empowers the teen perspective.

    It's time New Zealand matured.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    And the occasional weakness of the Public Address community is revealed in one blindingly brilliant post by Mark Taslov.

    The earnest, humourless high horse might be fun for you, Mark, but its a bit dull for everyone else. Climb down and take some deep breaths, eh?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Oh Mark... perhaps on a second read you might spot the notes of self-deprecation in the column, the little hints that I might not actually regard my teenage self as a genius.

    Then perhaps you could explain how I 'dropped my friends in it' by having glandular fever?

    When you breed a culture where the teacher is not respected, regardless of how good or bad they are, you not only undermine your own child's education, but by peer corroboration, the education of their fellow students too.

    I absolutely disagree. I think conditioning children to give respect automatically to authority figures who don't deserve it is dangerous. We did respect the teachers who were good. There is at least one other person who reads these threads who had Janet as a teacher and can testify to the lengths to which she would take a personal vendetta. The vibe we got from her was that she hated teaching, and hated kids. If my kids had a teacher like her I'd back them against her too, and not to be cool.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    I only ever wagged in the 7th form (Hillcrest High School, 1992) because until then school had been quite fun.

    Suddenly the 7th form came along and things were either hard or boring. The only class I looked forward to attending was the 6th Form Cert drama class I was also doing.

    It turned out that going to the graveyards down by the river with my friend Renee and listening to Sonic Youth was more fun than most of the bursary subjects I was, in theory, studying. And, strangely enough, it served me better in the long term.

    Hey, Goo. What's new?

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1821 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I was responding to Emma, the old kiwi third party stand over tactics..yet another symptom of the teen malaise. I'd call it tall poppy syndrome, but I'm a no one. 1000 teachers left NZ last year. as of yesterday NZ bullying second highest in the world.

    big ups Eddie.
    Now is clearly the time to be making jokes about the NZ education system, but i sincerely care enough not to make too many. If you missed my humour Eddie, it's only down to your reading comprehension.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    Well Emma, since you ask, you missed so many days off school, that eventually it was going to come to the crunch, and your friends would be the first people to ask.

    "I absolutely disagree. I think conditioning children to give respect automatically to authority figures who don't deserve it is dangerous."

    on the contrary. giving due respect to authority figures whether they deserve it or not is mandatory for maintaining our society and our own well being.

    be they police officers, doctors, judges or traffic wardens.

    We did respect the teachers who were good. There is at least one other person who reads these threads who had Janet as a teacher and can testify to the lengths to which she would take a personal vendetta.

    as I said, and it's pretty much all I said, "let it go"> She has her own mind space to regret the job she has done. Those lonely years when none of her past pupils return to have a cup of tea.

    If my kids had a teacher like her I'd back them against her too, and not to be cool...

    and hence my post.
    clarified Eddie?

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    the old kiwi third party stand over tactics... I'd call it tall poppy syndrome, but I'm a no one.

    And suddenly Mark is the victim. You had a go at me, dear, I responded, you haven't addressed anything I said.

    i sincerely care enough not to make too many

    That's right, you're the only one who cares. I've spent the last few days being furious because I just don't give a shit about my children's education.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Sorry Mark, simultaneous posting.

    giving due respect to authority figures whether they deserve it or not is mandatory for maintaining our society and our own well being.

    I dunno how to respond to this except to say 'no it isn't'. Have we really, in your mind, never in history benefited from rebellion?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4285 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Yep. Still think its humourless and slightly frothy. People earn respect, they don't get it as of right. Doing what a teacher tells you (which, to be honest, I pretty much always did) or what a cop tell you (ditto), because they are in positions of authority is not the same as respect.

    I respect the structues you're talking about, I respect the societal roles you're talking about but ultimately, those roles are filled by people, some of whom deserve no respect whatsoever. And if we give respect to those who don't deserve it, we'll be doomed to a mediocre, arrogant class of teachers/police officers/judges etc. If you think the situation would be improved by ignoring the failings of those who have power over us, I think you're sadly mistaken.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I'm not the only one who cares Emma, I never said I was. Many do. This is not about me or you, I write that. Because it really doesn't effect me.

    giving due respect to authority figures whether they deserve it or not is mandatory for maintaining our society and our own well being.

    I dunno how to respond to this except to say 'no it isn't'. Have we really, in your mind, never in history benefited from rebellion?

    against our teachers? seldom.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    I don't think we ignore the failings of the teachers Eddie, definitely. It's simply about how we respond to their failings. Do we make fun of them in public forums 10 years after the fact. Or do we tell them directly so that they may do a better job with future generations? Emma's post is bold in and indicative of a wider trend. However mocking our teachers is never as effective as teaching our teachers. Hence Emma had her mum pwn her teacher, rather than set the record straight herself.

    your taxed dollar • Since Mar 2008 • 1293 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Couldn't resist:

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 15715 posts Report Reply

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