Catalogue of Change

Covid has seen New Zealand working in ways that are new, testing and perhaps not as temporary as we might like to think. 

Schooling

It is inevitable that the question of whether to shift the holidays to compensate and recognise that the students have missed a lot of term time thanks to Covid will always be a bit controversial. It is one of the times when it seems to me that all the positions taken around this issue have merit. I might have thought that the Boards of Trustees could contribute to this discussion.

In the history of New Zealand education there were considerable times when there were breaks in children being at school, often this was on a regional basis rather than the whole country and lessons were one way or another continued at home. The Correspondence School was prominent in the help given to teachers and schools at that time and many students, now much older, recall with pleasure the arrival and the departure of the canvas satchels in which the lessons were dispatched and collected on a weekly basis during the period when schools were closed. Those who once were young speak of the delight in getting the satchel which the teachers distributed and collected.

But that was then, this is now and things have changed.

Coffee #2 and Impact

I was amused the other day to hear a coffee shop owner in Wellington adamantly stating that it is time public servants “got back to work” so that they could keep coffee shops operating. As much as I realise that getting the business flowing again is important, the thought that people are only working when they “get back to work” ignores the fact that they are “back at work” and it is called working from home.

There have been some quite clear indications that there will be a number – some say 15% – who will not return to the coffee shop but continue to work from home. This was once thought to be difficult to control but it seems to have proved easier than we might have predicted. MBIE was reported last week to have 50% of its workforce doing their job at home. Many of those who are working at home will not “return to work” but remain being at home, perhaps playing role in their young children and older youth education, and drinking their home-made coffee!

Access to Goods and Services

My computer ink arrived the day after I ordered it, brought to me by a courier – who would have thought?

Finally, Tertiary Education responds

Tertiary education has long spoken of distance learning and flexible access to learning. The change to on-line learning is widespread in many of the tertiary education institutions. These are changes that will be difficult to turn back from, just as it will be with schooling as it is at home, and keeping coffee shops working but at a scale and number that is driven by customers rather than custom, and with tertiary education increasingly abandoning requiring students to gather in a certain place at a certain time to learn. Once issues of access and equity to post-secondary education and training are solved there will be great advances in tertiary education. Change in education does not come easily and perhaps not in business and commerce.  But when change happens we should be wise enough to hang on to the best of it.

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