Hard Stone

As I think I’ve mentioned in a number of places a wee while ago, I was going back to school. Back to school!! For goodness’ sake, why??? Well, I’ll tell you.

In this post I mentioned, somewhat in passing, that I once did bone-carving and also explained at least one reason as to why I am now living on The Coast. (It may be a bit fanciful, but fanciful is fine if either one believes in it, it harms no-one else or it’s just a bit of fun. Be that as it may I am now living on The Coast!)

Anyway, back to the bone-carving. I was self-taught and if I say so myself I did some OK stuff!


The ear-rings I made to go with the necklace I gave to the kuia at Nga Hau E Wha.

It wasn’t for commercial reasons that I did it, but I even sold some of my work, exhibited in a couple of craft shows,???????????????????????????????and I was also on display at various times, so I guess someone else thought it was OK. Mostly I did it because I enjoyed creating something interesting or special out of something as ubiquitous as a hunk of beef shin-bone!???????????????????????????????I never got to work on whale-bone (although I have a piece I will have a go at one day) but I always had a wee craving (well, ‘wee’ may be a bit of an understatement) to move from bone to stone.

Well, I have gone back to school and so the title of this post. It came about when I was chatting with a clever young local artist who I had commissioned to do a piece for my second grandson (I have given a piece of pounamu to each of my children, grand-children and my wife.) Sheree Warren is the young lady’s name and she produces wonderful work. During our chat she mentioned that she was doing some more tutoring this year, and I inquired as to the particulars (if you don’t ask you won’t be told, huh?) and she said she was doing a guest stint on the “Jade and Hard Stone Carving Course” at Tai Poutini polytechnic later [this] year. I pricked up my ears at this and started thinking whether it may be about time I ‘scratched the itch’ that was the wish move from bone to stone. I went down to the polytechnic and sought the tutor of the stone carving school and as luck would have it, I knew him- small world, eh!

I chatted a bit with Ric about the course and he was very encouraging and almost promised I would be accepted (perhaps they needed a bit of ‘old’ to balance the ‘young’?) Long story short I picked up the enrollment form, filled it out and submitted it. I was delighted when my acceptance letter arrived a short time later then impatiently waited for the Christmas vacations to pass and the new educational year to begin. On Monday of this week it did and I went ‘back to school’.

The first week has been something of an anticlimax even though I completely understand the reason for the content of the various sessions we’ve had- the powhiri and obligatory sharing of food to remove the tapu from the new students on day 1 goes without saying, then a bunch of sessions on ‘health & safety’ and potential perils, and rest assured there are many in and around the various operations involved in “creating something interesting or special” out of a piece of stone. The stone (jade) itself presents hazards given it is closely related to asbestos and so the dust can be deadly, and it can break/chip/shatter if not treated properly and thus you can be cut, broken or bruised. The equipment that is used to cut, carve, shape and shine can also present perils for the unwary and anything that happens if things go wrong will generally be all over before you realise there’s a problem given rotational speeds of tens of thousands of revolutions per minute for many of the tools, and of course the grabbing of an unwary one’s hair, clothes or other dangly bits will also have happened before you are aware you’re even close to danger.

We had sessions on the tikanga around pounamu (more about that at another time, perhaps), a welcome to the library,  and then recognising styles of experienced and successful carvers then discussing the design elements that identify one from another and the particular processes that were used to produce a selection of these artist’s famous pieces. We have looked at what works and doesn’t work in design and the various conventions artists use, rely on or even challenge. We also spent a session in the cutting shed being introduced to the enormous range of stone that we will be playing with- I’m looking forward to seeing this process in action!

And we sat our first test!!! It was, naturally enough on workshop safety and covered the whole range of precautions we must take. The simple truth that indicated the importance of this test is that if we didn’t pass it, not only did we have to resit it but we would be unable to proceed to actually using the equipment and thus doing what we have come to do- carve stone! Fortunately it’s pretty much common sense even though a bit of terminology is expected, and it was pretty much an ‘open book’ test given we went over the test with the tutor and fully dissected its requirements.

The final day got better, though. We were a bit naughty and didn’t do the TPP Challenges- a variety of ‘team-building’ activities around the polytech designed to bring the study group together and to see other course’s work places. As we were a bit behind due to missing a couple of sessions Ric decided this would be the ideal time for ‘catch-up’ so catch-up we did.

Then we got into stone! We chose the pieces of off-cut material that we are going to “create something interesting or special” out of. Great!! The stuff we had to choose from won’t grab the interest of any of the top carvers, in fact it probably wouldn’t even prick the interest of a half reasonable artist, BUT… WE ARE ABOUT TO CARVE!

Our first requirement is to imagine, design and create six ‘free-form’ pieces. There are few criteria requirements because the intent is for the student (me) to get to know the tools we will be working with, to develop an awareness of the stone we chose, and to be able to bring a design out of the piece that will satisfy those few test criteria.???????????????????????????????I chose what I think are six pieces I can find some interesting and/or special shape within.???????????????????????????????They are not all jade so I will be feeling how a few different stones feel on the point-carver or the diamond burrs used for fine shaping.???????????????????????????????I am looking closely at each piece so I don’t try to impose previous designs where another design might be more effective.???????????????????????????????I do bring with me a supply of designs I’ve ‘doodled’ before which I possibly need to move out of my head for a while.

2012-10-08 16.38.58

I also need to stay ‘simple’ because these are due soon.


Of course we also have to create and attach the cord to suspend any pendants, and carve any beads we intend to use with the cord for pendants. Hmmm! I’ll be back to show you how I got on.

So that took care of week one!


Open Letter from Auckland Primary and Intermediate School Principals


As educational professionals we fully endorse concerns recently expressed by many New Zealand academics relating to the proposed publication of league tables of NZ primary and intermediate school students’ performance based on this government’s national standards.
The vast majority of NZ principals have expressed serious concerns about the validity of the national standards data since the inception of the policy. The experience of other countries is that the publication of league tables is damaging and misleading, and does not lead to improved learning outcomes.
As educational professionals we condemn any published league tables and urge the NZ public to do likewise.

Jill Corkin Snells Beach School
Kevin Bush Te Hihi School
Jeff Bruce Jean Batten School
Sue Dawson Clendon Park School
Lynda Stuart May Road School
Frances Nelson Fairburn School
Jane Cavanagh-Eyre Epsom Normal School
Rex Maddren Leabank Primary School
Liz Horgan St Joseph’s School, Otahuhu
Diana Tregoweth Owairaka District School
Brian Gower Beachlands School
Wim Boxen Ponsonby Intermediate School
Jennie Stewart Sunnybrae Normal School
Allan Watts Stella Maris School
Graeme Rix Pukekohe Hill School
Cameron Lockie Kaipara Flats School
Nicola Girling Hillsborough Primary School
Ken Pemberton Murrays Bay Primary School
Linda Mayow Glen Eden Primary School
Thomas Robertson Kelvin Road School
Graeme Lomas Cockle Bay School
Brenda Mauger St Therese School
John Faire Mt Eden Normal School
Annie Doherty Sherwood Primary School
Cherie Taylor-Patel Flanshaw Road School
Linda Harvie Farm Cove Intermediate School
Brent Woods Otahuhu Intermediate School
Neil Robinson Blockhouse Bay Primary School
Malcolm Milner Balmoral School
Fiona Cavanagh Sutton Park School
Sandra Jenkins Freemans Bay School
Roger Harnett Browns Bay School
Christine Wargent Marlborough Primary School
Liz Wood Waikowhai Intermediate School
John McAleese Howick Intermediate School
Roy Lilley Bruce McLaren Intermediate School
Kevin Hornby Puhinui School
Wayne Bainbridge Matipo Primary School
Maree Bathurst Albany Primary School
Nigel Davis Wesley Intermediate School
Wayne MacGillvray Mayfield School
Stephanie Anich Richmond Road School
Colleen Margison Panama Road School
Anne Malcolm Ponsonby Primary School
Juliet Small Sunnyhills School
Margaret Aikman Hay Park School
Bruce Laws Orewa North School
Hoana Pearson Newton Central School
Lois Kirkbride Favona School
Mavis Moodie Onehunga Primary School 50
Bill Barker Grey Lynn Primary
Brent Jenkin Wakaaranga School
Brenda White Redoubt North School
John McGowan Campbells Bay School
Tony Horan Tamaki Intermediate School
Shirley Maihi Finlayson Park School
Iain Taylor Manurewa Intermediate School
Kevin Choromanski Pomaria Primary School
Marilyn Gwilliam Papatoetoe Central School
Jill Farquharson Auckland Normal Intermediate School
Heath McNeil Ramarama School
Peter Mulcahy Sunnynook Primary School
Colin Dale Murrays Bay Intermediate School
Mary Wilson Baverstock Oaks School
Jeanette Dunning Verran Primary School
Heather Atkinson Waitakere Primary School
Martyn Weatherill Laingholm Primary School
Diane Parkinson Bucklands Beach Intermediate School
Brian Rolfe Shelly Park School
Shirley Hardcastle Devonport Primary School
Diana Peri Oranga Primary School
Rex Buckley Kingsford School
Mike O’Reilly Mt Roskill Intermediate School
Donal McLean Fruitvale School
Susannah Fowler The Gardens School
Stephen Lethbridge Taupaki School
Greg Roebuck New Lynn School
Jan Robertson Conifer Grove School
Rose Neal Oteha Valley School
Gary Lawrence Vauxhall School
Diane Lambert Orewa Primary School
Barrie Duckworth Bombay School
Ian Travers Te Huruhi School
Catherine Rivers St Mark’s School, Pakuranga
Phil Palfrey Manurewa East School
Ginty Bigwood Pigeon Mountain School
Diane Wiechern Green Bay Primary School
Pam King Kauri Park School
Warren Spanhake Whenuapai School
Leyette Callister Howick Primary School
Carolyn Marino Westmere School
Stephanie Thompson Beach Haven School
John Carrodus Edmonton Primary School
Cindy Walsh Takapuna Primary School
Linda Munkowitz Manuka Primary School
Wendy Koeford Newmarket Primary School
Sonia Johnston Rosscommon School
Melinda Bennett Ahuroa School
Gary Cain Parnell District School
David Ellery Somerville Intermediate School 100
Deidre Alderson Willowbank School
Eric Taylor Awhitu District School
Lindsay Child Bayswater School
Julien Le Sueur Pinehill School
Terry Hewetson Glen Eden Intermediate School
Margaret Palmer Waterlea School
Ron Gordon Patumahoe School
Jon Johnson Karaka School
Peter Marshall Greenhithe School
Germaine Peterson Waikowhai Primary School
Lee Hopkirk Milford School
Maria Heron Mangere Central School
Suzamme Mariassouce Paerata School
Luke Sumich Summerland Primary School
Dave Bradley Wellsford School
Delanee Dale Marshall Laing School
Cheryl Davies-Crook Halsey Drive School
Rosemary Vivien Edendale School
Graeme Newall Sandspit School
Bruce McLauchlan Swanson School
Stephen King Remuera Primary School
Owen Alexander Takapuna Normal Intermediate School
Jeff Johnstone Willow Park School
Mark Barrett Papatoetoe South School
Robyn Dunseath Glendene School
Lyn Gordon Brookby School
Laurie Thew Manurewa Central School
Susan Dunlop Yendarra School
Charmaine Munro Sunnyvale School
Gillian Bray Wainui School
Diane Manners Kohimarama School
Wendy Sandifer Torbay School
Gina Bernade Sancta Maria Catholic Primary School
Gavin Beere Hillpark School
Trish Plowright Elm Park School
Darrel Goosen Matakana School
Linda Barton-Redgrave Long Bay School
Irene Ogden Henderson North School
Lesley Elia Glenbrae School
Paul Engles St Mary’s School, Northcote
Judd McLauchlan Rowandale School
Robyn Curry Te Papapa School
Jo Augustine Kaurilands School
Michelle McCarty Alfriston School
Jane Danielson Hingaia Peninsula School
Carmel Bullot St Patrick’s School, Remuera
Paul Douglas Kowhai Intermediate School
Philomena O’Connell-Cooper St Joseph’s Catholic School, Takapuna
Chris Magner Ellerslie School
Enid Watson Forrest Hill School 150
Glen Vinton Stanley Bay School
Viv Collins Silverdale School
Craig McCarthny St Heliers School
Te Rangi Allen Nga Kakano Christian Reo e Rua Kura
Jocelyn Uasike St Joseph’s Catholics School, Pukekohe
Ross McGowan Aka Aka School
Sarah Martin Stonefields School
Raewyn Matthys-Morris Glenfield Intermediate School
Robert Minihan Kadimah School
Barbara Duckworth Papakura Central School
Linda Low Birkdale North School
Jason Swann Otahuhu Primary School
Kathryn Hira St Joseph’s School, Orakei
Cathy Chalmers Greenmeadows Intermediate School
Mike Gardner West Harbour School
Debbie Marshall Dairy Flat School
Blair Johnston Pokeno School
Darren Smith St Leonard’s School
Pat Chamley Flat Bush School
Judy Hanna Mangere Bridge School
Dave Latimer Rangeview Intermediate School
Graeme Gilbert Papatoetoe East School
Colin Andrews Blockhouse Bay Intermediate School
Clive Morris Drury School
Fintan Kelly Pakuranga Heights School
Diane Raynes Bayview School
Vaughan van Rensberg Chapel Downs School
Peter Ayson Meadowbank School
Andy Thompson St Joseph’s Catholic School, Onehunga
Jan Tasker Sunnyvale School
Michael Malins Konini School
Anne-Marie Biggs Glendowie Primary School
Paul Coackley St Pius X Catholic School
Julie Schumacher Clevedon School
Bruce Dale Henderson Intermediate School
Stuart Myers Pakuranga Intermediate School
Judy Parr Point View School
Linley Bruce Royal Oak Primary School
Anthony Noble-Campbell Mangere East Primary School
Maurice Young Marina View School
Brenda McPherson Windy Ridge School
Kent Wilson Westminster Christian School
Evan Robson Orere Point School
Bruce Warren Mairangi Bay School
Debbie Waikato Lincoln Heights School
Nigel Bioletti Birkenhead Primary School
Ken McKay Star of the Sea School
David Tennent St Mary’s Catholic School, Papakura
Richard Coote Birkdale Intermediate School
Jeanette Craig Upper Harbour Primary School 200
Rae Parkin Wesley Primary School
Kathy Irvine Red Hill Primary School
Mary Kedzlie St Leo’s Catholic School
Brigid Peterson Good Shepherd School
Bruce Cunningham Belmont Primary School
Bernard Fitzgibbon St John’s School, Mairangi Bay
Helen Varney Target Road School
Janet Pinchen Glamorgan School
Jane Hahn Christ the King Catholic School
Kathy Dooley Mt Richmond Special School
Cris Hull View Road School
Wiki Whittaker St John the Evangelist School
Pauline Cornwell Avondale Intermediate School
Trevor Canute Papatoetoe West School
Gary Passfield Waimauku School
Bruce Young Holy Cross School, Papatoetoe 216
Sandra Aitken Pt Chevalier School
Grant Hope-Ede Peninsular Primary School
Lesley Pether Maraetai Beach School
Simon Akroyd Glenbrook School
Jane Wallis Te Matauranga (co-principal)
Debbie Wooliams Te Matauranga (co-principal)
Peter Kaiser Tirimoana Primary School
Pat Conrad Mansell Senior School
Anne Milne Kia Aroha College
Alan Lyth Bairds Mainfreight Primary School
Kris Hughes Riverhead School
Sheryl Fletcher Bayfield School
Bruce Trezise Botany Downs School
John Nicholls Robertson Road School
Anne Saunokonoko Marist Primary School, Mt Albert
Linda Kelly Takanini School
Heather Frost Hunua School
Keith Gayford Viscount School
Lynne Keohane Anchorage Park School
Sue Mulcahy Chelsea Primary School
Vicki Joplin Waiuku Primary School
David Wallace Manurewa West School
Maxine Tau South Auckland Seventh-Day Adventist School
Justine Somerville Belmont Intermediate School
Robyn Pivac Marist Catholic School, Herne Bay
Tony Walsh Pasadena Intermediate School
Louise Doyle Oaklynn Special School
Vanessa Sofele Paparimu School
Jenny Bernard Principal, St Joseph’s Catholic School, Grey Lynn
Deborah Heaseman Northcote Primary School
Craig Holt Northcote Intermediate School
Murray Wratt Opaheke School
Tony Kolose Manurewa South School
Murray Burton Elim Christian College
Kathy Moy-Low Holy Cross School, Henderson
Clarinda Franklin Hauraki School
Karen McMurray Randwick Park School
Cherie Galloway Balmoral SDA School
Judy Brown Mellons Bay School
Adrienne Mawer Birkdale Primary School
Marianne Booth St Francis School, Pt Chevalier
Jennice Murray Don Buck Primary School
Annette Donnelly Mt Carmel School
Maree Stavert Henderson Valley School
Other signatories of support
Alister McCosh Picton School, Picton
Barrie Wickens Kaka Street Special School, Tauranga
Alan Jermaine Education Consultant, Auckland
Neil Fraser Ngatea Primary School, Ngatea
Gary Punler West End School, Palmerston North
Tony Hamilton Retired principal, Auckland
Tony Westrupp Kaukapakapa School, Helensville area
Barbara Bronlund Kaiwaka School, Wellsford area
Darren Kerr Whareama School, Masterton area
Kay Hawk Education consultant, Education Group Ltd, Auckland
Barry Hambleton Retired principal, Auckland
Frank Dodd Retired principal, Auckland
Nola Hambleton Retired principal, Auckland
Leanne Otene Manaia View School, Whagarei area

What Einstein, Twain, and Forty Eight Other Creative People Had to Say About Schooling

These entries are a collection of quotes by famous people speaking against compulsory education.

Albert Einstein

  • It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate  plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. 
  •  One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year. 
  • Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.


  • Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

Chuang Tzu-

  • Reward and punishment is the lowest form of education.

Mark Twain-

  • I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.  
  • Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run.  
  • Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.  
  • In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.

Oscar Wilde-

  • The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence. 
  • Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. 
  • Everyone who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.

Winston Churchill-

  • How I hated schools, and what a life of anxiety I lived there. I counted the hours to the end of every term, when I should return home. 
  • I always like to learn, but I don’t always like to be taught.

Woody Allen-

  • I loathed every day and regret every moment I spent in a school.

Dolly Parton-

  • I hated school. Even to this day, when I see a school bus it’s just depressing to me. The poor little kids.

George Bernard Shaw

  • There is nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school. 
  • What we call education and culture is for the most part nothing but the substitution of reading for experience, of literature for life, of the obsolete fictitious for the contemporary real.

Finley Peter Dunne

  • It don’t make much difference what you study, so long as you don’t like it.

Thomas Edison-

  • I remember that I was never able to get along at school. I was at the foot of the class.

Henry David Thoreau

  • What does education often do? It makes a straight-cut ditch of a free, meandering brook. 
  • How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?

Bertrand Russell

  • Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education. 
  • Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.

Benjamin Franklin-

  • He was so learned that he could name a horse in nine languages; so ignorant that he bought a cow to ride on.

H. L. Mencken

  • The average schoolmaster is and always must be essentially an ass, for how can one imagine an intelligent man engaging in so puerile an avocation.

George Saville, Marquis of Hallifax-

  • The vanity of teaching doth oft tempt a man to forget that he is a blockhead.

Joseph Stalin (Hmmm, a supporter of compulsory schooling.)

  • Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

Norman Douglas-

  • Education is a state-controlled manufactory of echoes.

Paul Karl Feyerabend

  • The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education.

Theodore Roosevelt-

  • A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.

H. H. Munro-

  • But, good gracious, you’ve got to educate him first. You can’t expect a boy to be vicious till he’s been to a good school.

Robert Frost-

  • Education is hanging around until you’ve caught on.

Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • Education is the period during which you are being instructed by somebody you do not know, about something you do not want to know.

Ralph Waldo Emerson-

  • I pay the schoolmaster, but it is the schoolboys who educate my son.

Alice James-

  • I wonder whether if I had an education I should have been more or less a fool than I am.

Helen Beatrix Potter

  • Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.

Margaret Mead-

  • My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school.

William Hazlitt-

  • Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of a classical education, and is not made a fool by it, may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape.

Laurence J. Peter

  • Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices.

Anne Sullivan (I bow to her.)

  • I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.

Alice Duer Miller

  • It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its natural functions by artificial means. Thus we suppress the child’s curiosity and then when he lacks a natural interest in learning he is offered special coaching for his scholastic difficulties.

Florence King-

  • Showing up at school already able to read is like showing up at the undertaker’s already embalmed: people start worrying about being put out of their jobs.

Emma Goldman-

  • Since every effort in our educational life seems to be directed toward making of the child a being foreign to itself, it must of necessity produce individuals foreign to one another, and in everlasting antagonism with each other.

Edward M. Forster-

  • Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.

William John Bennett-

  • If [our schools] are still bad maybe we should declare educational bankruptcy, give the people their money and let them educate themselves and start their own schools.

John Updike-

  • School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you, and industry can’t take you.

Robert Buzzell-

  • The mark of a true MBA is that he is often wrong but seldom in doubt.

Robert M. Hutchins-

  • The three major administrative problems on a campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty. 
  • The college graduate is presented with a sheepskin to cover his intellectual nakedness.

Elbert Hubbard-

  • You can lead a boy to college, but you cannot make him think.

Max Leon Forman-

  • Education seems to be in America the only commodity of which the customer tries to get as little as he can for his money.

Phillip K. Dick-

  • The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life and when you are finished what you know is that you would have benefited more by going into banking.

David P. Gardner-

  • Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least.

Ivan Illich-

  • The public school has become the established church of secular society. 
  • Together we have come to realize that the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school.

Marshall McLuhan-

  • The school system … is the homogenising hopper into which we toss our integral tots for processing.

Michel De Montaigne-

  • We only labour to stuff the memory, and leave the conscience and the understanding unfurnished and void.

Peter Drucker-

  • When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course.

C. C. Colton-

  • Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer.

Paul Simon-

  • When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.

John Dewey-

  • It is our American habit, if we find the foundations of our educational structure unsatisfactory, to add another story or a wing.

Anonymous (My favorite of all historical figures.)

  • If nobody dropped out of eighth grade, who would hire the college graduates?
  • Public school is a place of detention for children placed in the care of teachers who are afraid of the principal, principals who are afraid of the school board, school boards who are afraid of the parents, parents who are afraid of the children, and children who are afraid of nobody.
  • The creative person is usually rebellious. He or she is the survivor of a trauma called education.
  • You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can’t tell him much.

Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College, is a specialist in developmental and evolutionary psychology and author of an introductory textbook, Psychology.’ “Friends, yes, I know, this is a biased sampling of quotations! I have deliberately selected quotations that complain about the compulsory, standard system of schooling. But, I challenge you. Develop a list this long of quotations supporting compulsory schooling and see if the authors you quote rank close to these authors in creativity.”

Schools As Parents?

All societies have social ills of one kind or another but in New Zealand we seem to be advocating a system of remedy that ignores the core of a successful society- family and positive parenting. Child obesity is a problem? Schools can teach ‘healthy eating’. Children and youth have no respect for people or property? Schools can teach ‘life values’. Children arrive at school without having eaten breakfast? Schools can establish ‘breakfast clubs’. And so it goes on. When are we (the government) going to put the responsibility for curing these (and many other) ills firmly back where they should first be addressed? WITH PARENTS and in the family!!!

Should I Be Here?

Short answer is probably, “No”. I’m doing this at work (yeah, I know- on the boss’s time and all that stuff!) but I don’t have a big pang about this as this is almost part of my job! I am an IT teacher and I am sort of in the process of ‘doing’ blogging with the senior kids, and so while they are beavering away at their world-shattering observations and commentary, I am doing similarly- modelling? Yeah! Right!

Anyway back to my question. I am feeling like death warmed up and have streaming eyes and intermittent sneezes and thus I am probably a walking disaster for those around me. In such a state I suspect it accomplishes very little ensuring regular hand-washing, covering mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing, and any of the other health poster guidelines (although, of course they’ll minimise health hazards as much as is possible!) But our classrooms are very often places where people who really shouldn’t be there spend their days. Kids sent by working parents who can’t (or won’t) find home care for them or teachers who are ill and infectious but who can’t be replaced because relievers are not available (or won’t be replaced because they don’t want someone else running their class.) And, of course hard surfaces that must harbour squizillions of nasties just waiting to spoil someone’s day!

But I am here, and so are at least 3 kids today who shouldn’t be, and I think another teacher elsewhere in the school who would be doing herself and her colleagues and pupils greater service by being elsewhere.

So why are we here? The children’s presence is explained in part by parent’s circumstances, in part by parent’s attitudes, or in part by the desire of the kids to rather be here than at home. But the teachers? I think there are a number of factors here as well- some teachers may have used up their sick leave, some may prefer to not have the potential disruptive effects of less than wholly effective relievers, some may not be well organised enough and a bit afraid of being discovered as being so by another taking over, some may feel that if they could ensure a ‘proven’ reliever would be in charge they’d stay home, some may feel that what is planned for that day requires them to be here, and of course so are just so damned dedicated they think even performing below par is worth the effort of getting out of their sick-bed to be at school. (They ARE NOT here because there is no reliever available- that’s management’s problem.)

So why am I here? Because my role directly effects at least three other teachers’ plans for the day it’s less disruptive than re-scheduling the day another time when I’m feeling better, and because I am not replaced by a reliever if I call in sick it’s simply more expedient and convenient for all if I turn up (so no high principles involved!)

And, actually I’m fibbing. I’m not doing this at school, and I am not feeling like death warmed up with streaming eyes and sneezes, but you get the idea?