Monthly Archives: April, 2013

I Got a Wee Bit Inspired

Last night I read this – a wee blog I follow written by Stephanie, a year 7 & 8 teacher from Wellington (just stole that info off her bio page!)

It got me all inspired. And getting inspired was unexpected both at that time of evening and after such a very long-term. Although, as the “back in my day” brigade will be quite happy to remind you, when I was at school there were three terms about 15 or 16 weeks long, so what’s your problem?

Well what am I all inspired about then?

Collaboration.

This is a word that tends not to gel with those who seek to bring more competition into our sector. There is a fear that the collaboration that we as a profession so keenly foster from the day we begin our teaching journeys will melt away as we begin to compete against each other for performance pay / resources / clients.

Collaboration.

Here’s my goal: by the end of term 2 I want my class to have video conferenced with another class. This class can be in Canterbury – where I am currently, or it could be in Wellington (Stephanie??), or it could be further afield.

I would love, love, love to be able to video conference with a class in another country. However, due to the time constraints of the school day, when we start school in New Zealand at 9am, it is 7am in Australia and the United Kingdom kids are all off to bed.

We might, might, might be able to get in touch with some classes on the east coast of the United States of America. As we start school at 9am, it will be 2pm in California, but the day before. Hawaii is slightly more reasonable – at 9am here it will be 11am the day before.

If our class can get in touch with another class in New Zealand or somewhere around the world then we can start setting up those links that will get Room 3 well on their way to being global citizens.

Then it can begin. Global collaboration.

Imagine working on a class project with someone from another class, in another school, in another country!

Outstanding.

So, if there are any teachers out there looking for a class project with a difference this term, or just a little bit of a conversation with some South Island kiwis then let me know.

Let’s start making links.

Mr B

I Was Going To…

I spent a long time thinking about my blog this weekend. What was I going to say? How was I going to say it?

I was going to talk about the Whale again.

I was going to mention how he got his “little army” to gang up on a poll being run on the fabulous Save our Schools blog page.

I thought it might be worth mentioning again that getting your followers to sabotage a poll on a rival website for no real reason was highly immature and smacks of high school bully-boy tactics.

I was going to say how the Whale has come out this morning and pointed out the sabotaged poll has been removed from the site, that the Whale had said it was removed because the result didn’t end up with the right result – even though that result had been influenced by an “I dare you… no I double dare you,” mentality by the Whale’s followers.

I thought I would also mention that I read the original post where the Whale invited his followers to vote in the poll and contribute to the comments section, despite the arguments on his website in favour mention Maori and Pasifika educational underachievement without linking it to any socio-economic (health, housing, very low incomes) factors at all.

I was thinking I might talk about the Whale’s own admission that he receives money from various parties, and that anyone could quite easily link his views to monies received – like US lobbyists pay US politicians to vote certain ways on laws over there.

I was also going to wonder out loud how could we possibly trust anything the Whale has to say as his own opinion when it is so readily for sale.

I was going to then ask, if his opinion isn’t his own because it can be bought, then whose opinion is it?

I was wondering, with his strong links to the National Party, whether it was them that are shaping his opinion for him? I thought that since his daddy is a former National Party president that this might be an interesting avenue to head down. I was also remembering this week how abusive Steven Joyce was about NZ Power and thinking it is very similar to the standard of commentary on the Whale’s own site. I was thinking how interesting that similarity between the Whale and the Nats might be.

I wondered if there really is any point in arguing all this because when he finds out he’ll probably get his puppets strung up on the fact that my eyebrow meets in the middle, or I’m a bit fat, without actually arguing his point effectively, because he has none.

I wondered about this, and then I decided against it.

Why bother? I heard the cheer on 7 Days last night when the Labour / Greens power plan was mentioned.

Instead of writing about all that stuff, I’m just going to wait until the end of next year and put a single comment on his page after the election is lost by the NACTs.

It will say: Ha!

Mr B.

The Bullying Tactics of a Tiny Little Man (not that tiny or little, actually)

Hi all,

This week a classic example how not to win friends and influence people came through from the brains trust behind one of the more popular right-wing propagandists in the country.

I’ve been thinking for days on how to retort to the diatribe from one Cam “Whale Oil” Slater. However, last night a twitter friend of mine did a much better job than my brain was able to.

Here is a link to How Melulater Sees It outlining the bully-boy nonsense. It is a superb piece of work that obviously took many hours to compile. I strongly recommend reading it.

The Whale is like that bully at school who gets a great big group of his mates around him because he’s to cowardly or inept to express himself any other way.

Be warned people, if you disagree with the Whale then your life and your family’s life will probably be splashed all over his webpage so his little bully boy minions can pour scorn upon it.

Remember, if you can’t argue your point without name calling or other such school-yard nonsense, then your point is probably nothing less than a $2 bag of  horse muck.

Chicken Little and the End of the World as We Know It

The story of Chicken Little and Henny Penny was floating around when I was a child. Briefly, this is the story of a small chicken who, when hit on the head with an acorn, believes the sky is falling and the world is going to end. Chicken Little flaps around the countryside issuing warnings to all her friends – Henny Penny, Drakey Lakey, Goosey Lucy, etc – about the world ending. Her friends believe her word. After all, there is nobody to doubt her.

The story ends with Foxy Loxy telling all the animals they can come and stay at his place because it’s underground and will be safe from any falling sky. Once everyone is inside, the fox eats them. To death.

This week there was a small acorn of power regulation that fell out of the sky on the heads of the neoliberal establishment.

They are now running around like crazed chickens spouting all manner of warnings about communism, North Korea, Muldoon (who was a Nat!!), and Albanian power policies.

It really is a sight to behold. The acorn has well and truly hit, my friends! It turns out the sky is indeed falling, and the world is coming to an end.

But not for me. And people like me. Workers, families, people who don’t have three homes and several cars – one for each of the kids and one SUV to head out to the bach at Whangamata on the weekends.

I welcome lower power prices. I also welcome lower house prices. Go on, get in there Labour and Greens. Don’t just tinker at the edges either. Roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

It is very rare for the market to provide for the likes of us. Ordinary people with ordinary lives. But then again, none of us are chairing the board of a power company and earning over $1 million.

No our world isn’t coming to an end. It is just beginning.

And about bloody time.

 

My Email to Dr Pita Sharples

Dear Dr Sharples,

I am writing to express my concern that you and your party are supporting the Education Amendment Bill through parliament.

Recently I’ve heard you saying you support the bill because you are concerned about the speaking of Te Reo. You say that charter schools will give Maori the freedom to teach and learn in ways that are not offered by the public school system.

It may interest you to note there have been many, many examples of schools in this country which teach in a bi-lingual or total immersion context. A quick search using the keyword ‘kura’ on TKI offers up 34 examples. There are many more units attached to primary schools around the country.

The public education system is incredibly well suited to offer teachers the freedom to teach in the ways you desire. The New Zealand Curriculum is an internationally recognised document which allows school communities to develop their own own curriculum, unique to their local area, reflecting local community needs.

I believe the Education Amendment Bill your party is planning to support will work to reduce this freedom by narrowing the curriculum to the Literacy and Numeracy. Learning languages will be pushed aside to make way as teachers and schools focus on their “core work” of meeting National Standards in those areas.

If you and your party support this legislation Maori will lose out. Charter schools, particularly if they are run for profit, are able to pick and choose their students. International experience shows us that the most troublesome, those in most need of empowerment in the way you desire, are often the most marginalised.

Here are some examples from the United States of America:

Reuters: Class Struggle – How charter schools get students they want

The Washington Post: How Charter School Choose the Most Desirable Students

There are many, many more.

I implore you to withdraw your support from this flawed legislation immediately. Otherwise Maori, actually all New Zealand children, will be the losers.

Sincerely,

Mike Boon, Teacher