Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: From soundbite to policy

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  • Deborah,

    My younger daughters have been slow to get going on reading. After their assessment on their sixth birthday, the school didn't put them into Reading Recovery, but did make sure that they got extra reading time, and extra assistance. It was enough to make sure that they continued to make progress, and didn't need the intensive input later. It was a fantastic response. (NB. State school, one of the largest primary schools in the country. Before we came to live in Australia.)

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    The CNC profile cutter is mind boggling. There all these wires and circuitry and computer logic and servo motors and precision bearings and software that doesn't run on Mac. One of the difficult aspects of the project is obtaining affordable second hand parts that are compatible with the other parts. I'm at the stage where I know enough about what I'm doing to ask the right questions and who to ask, leading to knowing more to in-turn ask more.

    Kewl! I spent a chunk of the 80s immersed in a primitive (by now standards) NC project. Recirculating ball screws, stepper motors, the pros & cons of open & closed loop. After much debugging it all worked to expectations, only to be eventually obsoleted by doing things (turning artwork into 2D animation) entirely by computer.

    At school I was classed as a math klutz, but with a real-world problem to solve and the help of some great & dedicated people it wasn't a problem. No need to wish you the luck with your extraordinary undertakings Steven, you've obviously got that under control :)

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Parker,

    Anne Tolley's father was also an intermediate school principal here in Napier. Makes her fully qualified I guess!

    I have to say also that during the entire National Party campaign I felt as a teacher somewhat insulted with the constant Standards/reporting in plain english thing as if I was not doing this when in actual fact I think am doing a good job of this. Made me realise that they have no idea what really happens in schools.

    Napier • Since Nov 2008 • 232 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I could be pumping out art, at within 0.02 mm of accuracy.

    That comment should sound so wrong, but just sounds so right. context is everything.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    That comment should sound so wrong, but just sounds so right. context is everything.

    quite right. The film industry has been at for a number of years.

    Kewl! I spent a chunk of the 80s immersed in a primitive (by now standards) NC project. Recirculating ball screws, stepper motors, the pros & cons of open & closed loop. After much debugging it all worked to expectations, only to be eventually obsoleted by doing things (turning artwork into 2D animation) entirely by computer.

    I reckon it would be cool to put steppers on cinema projectors, and do dub/scratch robot DJ with pictures.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    I reckon it would be cool to put steppers on cinema projectors, and do dub/scratch robot DJ with pictures.

    This kind of thing, maybe?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_printer

    The old National Film Unit had a state-of-the-art early 70s model, along with a full-on animation stand from the same maker. The guy who installed them had apparently just come from Iran, where he'd set up several for the then Shah's dream of becoming the Hollywood of the middle east. Your Weta contact should be able to fill you in on what became of them.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4590 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Wow. Ben's comment on the previous page about high-functioning slackers has justified my entire lazy, procrastinating way of life, and moreover made it sound almost admirable!

    I feel vaguely awesome now. Heh.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Going back to the content of the original post Tapu Misa has a great little "apology" to the Nat/Act Govt for being too "negative". Beautifully written. Worth aread.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10548017

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Danielle I aim to please. I don't think it's any accident that our species doesn't just provide the capacity for long hard work automatically. We have the most highly developed talent for doing smarter work, and using that talent is a large part of the reason we are not still running around after antelope, or digging for hours for roots to eat.

    Caveat: To feel awesome you do need to put in sometimes. Hard. Harder than everyone. And come up with the goods.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    They need at least one big, big reason to stick with the deal

    What, bigger than a ministerial car?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Caveat: To feel awesome you do need to put in sometimes. Hard. Harder than everyone. And come up with the goods.

    Hm. Libraries as high-pressure work environments requiring coming up with 'goods': not so much. I must just be a slacker, but without the awesome part. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Just to address the straw man. The question is
    "how do we best go about improving literacy and numeracy?"

    It's worth comparing teaching from when I grew up, which although at a different school was within the same system as that described by David Haywood
    and the kind of teaching that is exemplified by Tim Kong at the bottom of the page.

    Back in the good old days we had lots of tests and kids failed them. We can also see in the US an experiment with large scale nationwide testing of the kind implied by the new bill.

    It seems fairly clear that testing of that nature does not improve literacy and numeracy.

    To improve those things we need to train dedicated and talented teachers and give them the information and skills to teach. I firmly believe our education system has dramatically improved over the last 20 years, particularly in it's ability to deal with minority groups of all kinds. Having the Minister mess with the system seems unnecessary.

    We want to teach our next generation, not train them to take tests.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    AS: Maybe you could discuss what prevented you achieving literacy yourself?

    Block capitals should be used for abbreviations and acronyms. There is boldface and underlining for emphasis. You have to talk *about* something, "I'm talking having..." is not correct usage.

    Glass houses, etc.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Ben, you're right that there probably are fields where my style of working might be an advantage but currently I'm a full-time parent and you really can't say "sorry bub, Mummy's goofing off right now but I'll attend to all your needs in an intense hour just before bedtime".

    While I can't blame the school system for how I do things I do think it gave me the latitude to do things like that and I wonder how much "better" I could have done had I been actively engaged more of the time.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen,

    Out of interest, what Education experience does Anne Tolley have?

    One of the many crosses that teachers have to bear is that everyone who has been to school fancies themselves as an expert on Education.
    Strangely, the same people can eat roast dinners without feeling they have become experts in Modern Agricultural Systems.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Heather W.,

    Here's a job with short-term high workrate - I do hope they have cleaned up.

    But is it art?

    North Shore • Since Nov 2008 • 189 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Out of interest, what Education experience does Anne Tolley have?

    To me that's not really the question. You could be a perfectly good Minister of Education (or indeed, something else), without having been part of the system. How many Ministers of Police are ex-police officers? Ministers of Defence ex-military?

    The question comes back to 'why is this so urgent?' And given that there doesn't seem to be a good answer for that, why doesn't it go to select committee where all the people who are experts can have their input included and the Minister can manage that process.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Danielle, not sure what kind of librarian you are, but if you have to handle customer requests, then 'finding the answer in the shortest possible time' is exactly what is required. If you goof off in between, who would care, so long as the other chores are done? Only the worst kind of boss.

    Isabel, I know kids demand a lot of attention, I have a son myself. But the level of attention can rise and fall. A constant drip feed of low level attention is not better than getting very intense attention for periods, and almost none at other times. I think it's a mistake to think you have to be constantly on call for the kids every whim. That's a recipe for boredom and depression, if you are not naturally suited to it.

    Depends on the age of the child a lot. A newborn is perfect for a slacker - half of the time they are asleep. You can goof off then. So long as you keep them sorted while they are awake. My 2 year old is perfectly happy entertaining himself for long stretches, so long as you give him really good attention when the time is right. That suits me. I don't think there's anything wrong with getting bored with a game your child is playing, and moving off to some other activity. The important thing is that you do play with them regularly and attentively. Children need to learn that adults also need rest. Otherwise they will be horrors.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10629 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    A Probationary Officer I knew was very successful in engaging his "clients." What was his secret? He said that most lacked anyone to listen to them. He said that he listened intensely to these people in trouble and responded appropriately. They clients blossomed in most cases and even after their supervision ended many would pop back in to update the PO even just to say I've got a new job, or girlfriend, or flat. Some came from "good" homes but felt anonymous at home. So this confirms the belief that kids really need to be repected. Their opinions need to be listened to. We parents tend to give the "correct" opinion whiich undermines the confidence of the child in developing their own judgement. So the 3 Rules might be; Listen, Listen, Listen.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Out of interest, what Education experience does Anne Tolley have?

    About as much as Annette King did in Health when she became Minister -- insert your favourite 'Murder House' joke/anecdote here -- and she didn't seem to do too bad a job.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Craig, I don't recall King fresh in her job ignoring professional evidence and avoiding engaging with her sector before rushing through policy changes, do you?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19661 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I don't recall King fresh in her job ignoring professional evidence and avoiding engaging with her sector before rushing through policy changes, do you?

    Not personally, but I could point you towards a fair few health professionals who'd say King did exactly that when it was politically expedient to do so. Or to put it another way, we shouldn't be too surprised when politicians engage with people who tell them exactly want to hear, and take "professional evidence" on board when it's convenient to do so.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    'Murder House'

    Are there further revelations about Labours secret police to come?

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    To me that's not really the question. You could be a perfectly good Minister of Education (or indeed, something else), without having been part of the system. How many Ministers of Police are ex-police officers? Ministers of Defence ex-military?

    Yeah, but tell that to the people who insisted that Aunty Helen had no place telling them how to raise their kids because she has none of her own. It's exactly the same thing. I happen to agree with you, but plenty of people expect that <Minister-or-whatever-of-their-pet-peeve> has inside experience.

    Also, when it comes to teaching, it's not hard to find MPs with direct experience who can head the education portfolios. Finding former cops and soldiers is rather more difficult.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    After my earlier comments, I did a 3-second google search on UK google using the key words 'school' and 'testing'.

    The very first hit is this article from the Daily Telegraph (that well known bastion of anarcho-communist thought....)

    I'd recommend that anyone who thinks that school testing is A Good Thing And The Solution To All Our Ills do the same search and read a few of the results.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

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