Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Herself's Turn

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  • Rob Hosking,

    I would pay quite a lot of money to see Bjork covering 'Crazy Horses'.

    You know, that would kind of work. At least, better than 'Long Haired Lover from Liverpool' or 'Gonna knock on your door'

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Generally speaking I think there is a lot of fixing that needs to be done before any further education (of any type) should be forced on modern yoof.

    The western model of education is in many ways stuck with the idea that early education prepares you for a particular career or at most a small range of talent specific occupations (I do remember the trouble I got into when I listed drug dealing as a possible career). In the modern context, careers for life seem a bit dumb. There is no such thing as a job for life and I abhor the idea that personal development should cease with your first “proper” job. I don’t think employers and politicians really grasp this with respect to the education that they want to create I’m not even sure educators get it sometimes.

    I’m with Finn on this one, I got thrown out of school at 17 wasted time pretending to go to college between 17 and 20. I finally went to Uni at 25 when I’d made up my mind what I wanted to do and why. At which point I achieved something of value. I would almost go so far as to say kick ‘em all out at 16 and don’t let them back in until 18 or over. Education is appalling when it comes to supporting returning adult learners; same loans, just less time to pay then off in.

    Last thought for the time being at the end of a tertiary education in NZ without Postgrad I end up with an ordinary degree at the end of the same period of education in the UK I get an honours degree. Can someone explain this, from my perspective it just looks more broke….

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    My biz partner dropped out during 7th form, aged 16. He was highly motivated and was doing fine at school but his reasons for leaving to begin work were all good:

    1. He was from a poor family and needed the money
    2. He was not learning anything that would help him in what he was 100% certain his choice of career direction was (computer programming).
    3. He absolutely was not going to be going to varsity. He examined what they taught in various tech computer courses and realized he already knew all that shit.

    He is now a millionaire owner of a number of successful software products. I don't think holding him in school for another year and a half would have helped him one iota. It would have just prolonged the hardship which was the reality of his life at the time.

    Thus I don't like the idea, and I'm not just thinking of kids who are underachieving in school. There are also a few people at the other end of the spectrum.

    To me it's just a numbers fiddle to dick with unemployment figures. If people want to continue getting educated, they will. If they want to work, they should be allowed. It's only those who want neither that are a big problem. And I'm not that convinced the number of people like that really is that big a problem. If it is, it's a factor of the kind of work or schooling that they want not being available. Which is addressable without putting strictures on everyone else. Or they are the kind of people who just want to slack around. If so, they will slack around at school or in the workplace, whichever they are forced into. No real problem is solved by forcing them to do their slacking where they can maximize the disruption to non-slackers that they are causing, but a lot of problems are caused.

    Our current solution for such slackers, to let them slack around on the meager pickings of welfare until they wise up, or indefinitely so long as they don't make trouble, actually works quite well. I don't buy into a direct connection between being a slacker and entering a life of crime. A life of crime beckons slackers and non-slackers alike, and is a mindset in itself which has always seemed to me to have little to do with simple laziness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Not to harp on too much .... but we might want to think about whether, for example, 16 and 17 year olds have rights, including the right to do with their lives what they will (subject to the normal strictures of criminal law), and are not in fact the property of either their parents or the state.

    Sure.... and might not the same arguments be applied to 13, 14 and 15 year olds? and then 11/12 etc.?

    Age limits are frequently arbitrary, and do involve the removing of rights.... so discussion of what the age should be is definitely worth while.... But you've got to realize that there is going to be 'injustice' in setting them.... especially most apparent near the border-line...

    Just because a prevailing age limit has been in use for some time, doesnt change the fact that it is already affecting "rights".... and so changing that age limit doesnt actually introduce new injustice... only who it applies to.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Fletcher, they certainly are arbitrary. There's no such thing as adulthood any more. There's a tortuous and gradual increase in rights and responsibilities. Making it even more tortuous and drawn out may seem like a progressive step, if your underlying assumption is that humans are becoming more childish. Unless you consider that the tortuous drawn-out-ness may actually be contributing to the increase in childishness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    would pay quite a lot of money to see Bjork covering 'Crazy Horses'.

    Actually, I've been looking for an MP3 of her cover of Tina Charles' 'I Love to Love', which began her career when it was played on Icelandic public radio. I've found a couple of dead links but no cigar.

    Can anybody hook me up?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • David Ritchie,

    Back when raising the school leaving age to 18 was an freakin' NZ First policy (1990 I think), I had the dubious pleasure of spending a lunchtime sitting in our school library, listening to the candidates for my electorate wank on to the student body (case in point: Peter Dunne).

    Anyway, I asked the NZF candidate about students like myself who were in the "young half" of the class -- turning 12 while their classmates turned 13, for example -- and what impact this would have on my 7th form year when, at the end of it, I would be 17. She helpfully informed me that the situation was to do with "birthdays" (yeah, no shit) but failed to provide me with any workable solution.

    Did I mention she was an immigrant from somewhere in Europe? Presumably *white* migrants are okay, even if they're shitty politicians and can't fob off a 14yo (whose voice has barely broken) with a pat answer like "yes, we're aware not everybody will be 18 when they finish 7th form, it's a good point, blah blah blah".

    3 years earlier in a similar forum, Jim Bolger was asked a question by a male student with long, blond hair, and then referred to 'her' in his reply. D'oh.

    Since Nov 2006 • 166 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Education is appalling when it comes to supporting returning adult learners; same loans, just less time to pay then off in.

    That's not really true. Once tertiary students are 25 they're no longer considered to be tied to their parents (and don't get me started on that), so their access to an allowance isn't means-tested against their parents. Most 25 and over students get a reasonable living allowance (if they don't it's because they're working or on scholarship), most 24 and under students, don't.

    Same loan scheme, but about $6000/less a year of it as a result.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Am I the only one posting here who had to go and look up what 'X' actually is?

    I am, aren't I....

    But to be fair, from the NZ perspective its only ever really called that in American TV and movies

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Does anybody know what happens to people who are 17 and a half and finished high school?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Does anybody know what happens to people who are 17 and a half and finished high school?

    If American movies and TV are to be believed, they get laid.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If American movies and TV are to be believed, they get laid.

    In that case I want a refund. All I got was drunk.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Drunk? You were lucky. All I got was a job. And in Yorkshire, too...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    In the modern context, careers for life seem a bit dumb. There is no such thing as a job for life and I abhor the idea that personal development should cease with your first “proper” job. I don’t think employers and politicians really grasp this with respect to the education that they want to create I’m not even sure educators get it sometimes.

    Heartily agree there, at least in the case of universities. Certainly going by my own experience and observing students studying degrees that are rigorously 'professional', it's absurd to expect someone straight out of the highly structured environment of school to know what their vocation will be.

    There's an element of ... vindictiveness, perhaps, in forcing people to commit to immediate lifelong career choices and then to settle into a profession because there's a whopping great loan demanding payment. A lot of people get it wrong first time, but with a debt compounding, turning back or changing course is less of an easy option.

    I'm also sceptical of arguments that university education be made more 'relevant' or 'useful' overall - that is, 'relevant' to a particular job. I've seen far too many students saying, in effect, "I've paid my fees, now give me my bit of paper and then give me my job and paycheck while I get drunk." "Grow the hell up, Philistine," should be my response, but I say my rudeness for outside the classroom.

    That is not what I think universities are for at all - and I say that teaching, as I said, in a professional degree where representatives of the national professional body inspect every couple of years to make sure that we're in line with their own needs.

    Anyway, part of the problem was earlier policies that aimed at raising education participation by funding universities according to bums on seats - it led to a lot of 'factory' style teaching, irrespective of reality. In one insitutution, intake went from a few dozen to over two hundred - without there being a proportional rise in jobs at the other end! The students were being deceived about their prospects, and frankly, we had two hundred odd (and some were very odd) coming in, but still only a few dozen with real talent and prospects. Then among the smarter ones, I've recently met up with a graduate who's decided after struggling for three years or so that a professional career didn't suit her and she wanted to go back to study postgrad. Having seen her as an undergrad, that's exactly what she should have done in the first place, but she'd been told ad nauseum that degree=job, no more, no less.

    To compound the problem, a lot of polytechnics tried to recast themselves as universities. One once-venerable institution in Wellington merged with a Palmerston North-based university, with utterly diastrous results in terms of teaching and administrative quality and plummeting morale. I could say more about that, but for legal reasons I won't... I just sometimes chortle over my before and after bank statements...

    Um, anyway, apart from my personal experience... what I saw was a lot of practical courses in mechanics, hairdressing etc get thrown away in favour of the more prestigious things that universities are supposed to do (it was like being trapped in a cargo cult at times... most of the time... all of the time). The people who taught those older courses didn't necessarily move on to the other, smaller unpretentious institutions - often they just quit the education system altogether. In Europe, I gather that there's a severe trades shortage and the same is happening here - fewer people teach them, fewer are told that they could do well learning them, instead it's endless production lines of law and commerce degrees, or everyone wants to be a designer or do media studies.

    Funding has shifted more towards 'Performance Based research Funding', which puts pressure on academics to follow the 'publish or perish' mode. I have no problem with that in principle, as that is what universities should be for - centres of research, not graduate factories. Unfortunately, it's been clumsily executed and often academics are trying to both teach in bulk and produce recognised 'outputs'. Things at XXXXXX got very Dilbert.

    What appears to be pissing Tim Shadbolt off is simply that times and polices have changed and SIT benefitted from bums on seats and would not adapt to the new model of research-based funding. That institution is a dinosaur, a poor university expecting university funding when it should be a polytechnic, even though 'polytechnic' is considered infradig nowadays. Shadbolt, in my opinion, is an idiot, with his idiocy compounded by the institution's short-sighted management and ham-fisted government policy.

    What's been presented by both Key and Clark is piecemeal, lacking strategic context and relevance. I don't see either of the main parties having a coherent and practical long-range plan to deal with post-secondary education, be it trade, professional or academic. They have separate needs and none should compromise their quality by pretending to be another - and let the students have their wanderjahr before they decide on what they should do.

    That said, to be inconsistent, as I have undertaken to be as my basic ethos, architecture has good historical and cultural reasons to be in a university - it's as much one of the humanities as it is a science or business.

    Damn, sorry everyone for spluttering into my cocoa like this. I vowed that I wouldn't become a 'curmudgeon' (feh!) as middle age overtook me, but it seems that I am. I'll metamorphose into Karl bloody DuFresne soon, Cthulhu forbid...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    A job in Yorkshire sounds better than my brief career in McDonalds.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    let the students have their wanderjahr before they decide on what they should do.

    I'm still in my Wanderjahren. Die Lust ist nie verloren.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Drunk? You were lucky. All I got was a job. And in Yorkshire, too...

    You got a job and didn't get drunk after they paid you? In Yorkshire? Fer shame.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • 81stcolumn,

    Same loan scheme, but about $6000/less a year of it as a result.

    Kyle - I accept the technicality of your point but $6000 a year less of loans in no way compensates for between 4 and 8 years of adult earnings. Mature students really struggle to make ends meet. Believe me I know to my cost.

    I agree that mature students should not be given a big free lunch but most can't afford to go as it stands and if they knew the real cost they wouldn't.

    Nawthshaw • Since Nov 2006 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    You got a job and didn't get drunk after they paid you? In Yorkshire? Fer shame.

    The place is depressing enough without spending all your dosh on booze, mine all went on CDs, music gear and sneaking into 18-rated movies...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • dave crampton,

    Does anybody know what happens to people who are 17 and a half and finished high school?

    They leave school and get further education, a job, or a benefit.

    welli • Since Jan 2007 • 144 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Drunk? You were lucky. All I got was a job. And in Yorkshire, too...

    A job? In Yorkshire? Luxury! When I were a lad, all we had was a university education - and we had to read! We had to pay money for books and write essays about them! And when we'd finished that, we'd go home and order pizza!

    No, doesn't quote have the same effect. Sorry.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Damn, sorry everyone for spluttering into my cocoa like this.

    More please. That was extremely bracing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    The students were being deceived about their prospects

    I have had some dismal conversations with older students who have racked up loans and then either a) had to abandon part-way through because of financial and family stress or b) discovered that their expensive qualification was not the ticket they had hoped for. The push for education carries with it the risk of hopeful people being disappointed with large debts and no asset to show for it.

    The idea that more education is the answer for the work force gives me pause anyway. I wonder whether we don't end up with creeping qualificationism, with people needing higher qualifications to do the same jobs with no more productivity. The end result will be that everyone needs a PhD to get an interview at McDonalds. I also think about my own profession (programming) where formal education is helpful, maybe even necessary, but productivity really depends on a long apprenticeship and native talent (viz the Finns of this world, and for that matter me).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Kracklite, That was a good read. I'm watching the education institutions. as a student I sort of lucked in with the bums on seats deal. I did a fabrication engineering course at a polytech. Then moved to the next group of prefabs to do and applied arts degree. Seen as how I left school, I mean was asked to leave, without any qualification, my better than b+ average entitles me to post graduate enrollment. I am thinking seriously about doing the masters degree with Massy. Thats because it's run from the old Wellington museum.

    Looking at the prospectus, It's an extension of my polytech degree. Another research essay, but with a more academic sounding name along with a substantial essay called an artwork or body of work or something or another. What's good about this sort of education for me at least is in the fact that it's got no obvious application. It give's me the problem to solve.

    I found it amusing when I was at the polytech, that the engineering and arts department staff had almost know idea what each other did, let alone how there students could interact and stimulant the economy. What I learned at polytech given me the not so common title of qualified art technician. I am like an arts drain layer with a readers card at victoria university. I'm in it for the architecture.

    Back to the yoof crimes, I met with a group them. The ones on the 750 to a 1000 list. I'd like to point out, they're not all the same, They are Complex. Some passive some aggressive, I'd argue not one of them is going to respond well to being tufted by sporting hero's or the army , It just isn't way. This what university are really for, there for nutting out really nutty stuff, not teaching people how to earn $70'000 plus bonuses.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4327 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    More please. That was extremely bracing.

    Grrrr... Phil Goff, unctuous lying prat... snarl... Lockwood Smith grinning Thunderbirds puppet... spit, foam... Russell Marshal, human blancmange... gibber... Maharey, Mallard...erk! (immediate stroke).

    Do I sound like DFJ yet?

    discovered that their expensive qualification was not the ticket they had hoped for.

    One sad thing that I have noticed as I climbed the qualifications ladder is that the very fixed, formal formal of lectures and set assignments with an exam at the end is a very limited and limiting way of assessing people. One of the things that saddened me about dealing with first year students was that there's be a smallish intake of Maori and Pacific Island students, but for cultural reasons and upbringing, I think, on the whole these students - who had undeniable talent in many cases - found it difficult to cope with the undergrad format. However the more discursive and one-to-one format of higher Master's and PhD study would probably suit very well people who wanted to learn, but felt alienated from the rigid, and to be frank, industrial revolution model of standardised formats and examinations. Lots of glib talk about personalised learning interactively via the net is nonsensical - a good teacher responds to the personality and cues of their students, not acts like a complicated answering service... meaning, I suppose, that the ideal class size would be about a dozen. I'd hate to think of the costs involved to implement that however.

    The end result will be that everyone needs a PhD to get an interview at McDonalds.

    I know, I agree totally and it's ridiculous. Recently the administrator at my usual employer was made redundant and invited to reapply for her job and then failed to get it because she didn't have a degree. It's absurd - she was doing an excellent job and qualifications would have served no purpose whatsoever. This university - OK, it's Victoria, but it's not unique by any means - announced some years ago that as a policy, all lecturers would have PhDs. Now that's been stalled somewhat by the utter impracticality of the proposal, but the pseudo-corporatisation of universities has made them try too hard to appear by this or that set of criteria in the top ranking according to... well, whoever - the sort of people who believe annual reports, I suppose.

    Or, to be cynical (ah, but am I being cynical enough?), the sort of people who don't believe annual reports but want to see that they are produced so that they can be used to cover their ample behinds should anything start to look a bit tricky.

    Personally, I do see the worth of PhDs for professional reasons, and for personal reasons (well, I would, since I'm doing one), because it can focus the mind on a major project of intellectual nut-cracking (but it really does stand for "Piled Higher and Deeper", I can tell you, and I'll never be able to afford that Jag now). However, PhDs for the sake of PhDs is counterproductive for a university in many disciplines - artists don't generally do them, but an institution nonetheless may need a fine arts course, so where do they get the art lecturers? Not just from a pool of polo-necked, chin-stroking critics, I hope. Social workers don't follow the academic career path, but they might be needed in sociology, criminology and anthropology departments - and so on and so on.

    And I'm seeing at least a couple of former colleagues from... um..., a place I won't name... studying PhDs (not at that place,* I note). They will get their degrees for studying some inconsequential question, but they should really just be put in pots and watered regularly.

    By the way, Freeman Dyson, one of the world's most eminent theoretical physicists, protege of Bethe and (alas) Teller, never completed his PhD. He claimed it was pointless and left one unsuited to the real world of theoretical physics(!).

    Right, I wasn't really drinking cocoa, it's something much stronger.

    *Bitter? Moi? Yes.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

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