Archive for July 2022

Who runs the show?

We are watching the continuing decay of our education system in these worst of all possible times – what’s wrong with the leadership? I see and hear the leadership in schools asking for guidance and support at a time when there is ambivalence in the nation. Where is the back-up for teachers?

But who runs the show? 

I see and hear school leaders asking for masks to be worn inside school and the science community which backs this up, people who know what will make a difference, the expert academic science leaders say the same thing, and even go further in saying that it should have happened long ago. 

But who runs the show?

I expect that a great majority of parents would think it a good thing both for the students to be back at school and wearing masks. Especially when parents and caregivers have been asked to do so much over the past couple of years.

So who runs the show? 

Who has responsibility for enforcing the fact that New Zealand has a compulsory education system?   New Zealand has had issues with attendance in the best of all possible times – is this critically import feature of the New Zealand schooling system going to be allowed to be a mockery. 

Somewhere in the schooling system of New Zealand there must be a person who is responsible to see that children go to school each day. If there is not and no-one is required, then let’s scrap it.

It is inconceivable that the disruptions caused by the various varieties of a very virulent epidemic will not have had a negative impact on learning which teachers have worked to minimise. But has the government done all they can? Have programmes been made available throughout this difficult time? Have parents and caregivers received support though this period with materials? No one could say that all this is easy, but one does hear of wide variability between schools. Have the government media agencies been effectively utilised? One gets the impression that the foot has come off the pedal a little. And has the government-owned correspondence / distance learning capability been employed effectively?

But one thing stands out above all other responses. Learners who are not unwell must get back to school, no if’s, no but’s no maybe’s. Otherwise, it could take years to restore the presence of a central tenet of New Zealand education.

Jobs Jobs

What with the disruption of employment at the moment when shortages rule the roost it is time to rethink a few things related to “work”, that word tasks a back seat to “employment” these days!

About 20 years ago if my memory is right, an Australian psephologist, Salt by name, was developing the view that in about twenty years from then the developed world would be in a tussle with each other to provide workers in hospitality, food, infrastructure, and the like. Perhaps Covid is getting the blame for the shortages that are hitting economies over much of the world. 

Of course, quite a number of people have for some time been predicting the demise of many of the jobs. We now cry out for workers to fill the shortages in those very same sectors. Their predicted demise never came, and we are now in something of a predicament. Jobs will change but the basic fundamentals will stay – it’s the wood gives way to plastic syndrome rather than the wood will disappear. That “many of the jobs that exist now will disappear” is simply a myth. The basic skills of building a house will still be there. Yes, perhaps kitset construction will take over, more metal will appear on the sites but at the hands of carpenters and other traditional “Woodie” types.

Here is a list of jobs that will not disappear:

 Chefs, Hospitality Workers, Dieticians / Nutritionists / Health Sciences / Education / Artists /Cyber Security Experts / Conservation Scientists / Dentists / Data Scientists / Marketing Design /Advertising / Professional of many kinds / Social Workers / and all the people needed to support these jobs. Those who predict the demise of jobs could perhaps have a competition to see who can name jobs that have not been listed. Of course, employment will continue, and the basic skills are so critical. And we haven’t mentioned the jobs in the cracks, Biotechnicians, medical workers and so on. This is where the “new jobs” will emerge.

And those who killed the youth labour market have something to answer for. When I taught at Papatoetoe High School which was close to the Otahuhu Railway Workshop there was cause to pause to remember this great entrée to work. It was an annual request of up to 50 or 60 people to take up an apprenticeship. The great onslaught to privatise the Post Office, the Public Works, and many more wonderful opportunities, for those at the bottom of entry to the workforce those who would learn by “sitting next to Harry and Nellie” saved many people who went on to serve the community through work. The youth labour market was destroyed. Hon Bob Tizard once told me that we lost 80% of our apprenticeships during that time!

Perhaps there needs to be a bob-a-job programme such as we used to have in our youth if you were a Boy Scout. Do the job, do the mahi as we currently say, and the reward is doing the job. 

Above all, getting back to stressing that what young ones are doing in school has something to do with employment and that means JOBS.

You think you’re hard done by?

There is quite a lot of unrest around the traps – there is a strong point of view that says that schools are not providing adequate information on the performance of students. Parents of course rightly want to know just what the progress is of their young ones in terms of basic skills, special aptitudes and social behaviour. Their misgivings about lack of information enflames the views that the teachers are not doing enough in this regard.

I have written before about the an attempt to persuade students at one school by producing a sheet of paper that asked the parents to accept this as good intelligence about children. But the parents saw through this when they noted that the whole class was at the 64th percentile. Too many teachers go for the soft measures – children are described as “really nice to have in the class” and if a concern is expressed by a parent, “oh he’s coming  along nicely!

 Mind you, I came across report sent home on 23rd August 1935 the other day. It was a report that purported to place before the parents an assessment of the child. The reports were said to have been the picture of the “Marks obtained in Examination at the end of Term. 

Image shows anonymised school report from 1935.
Composition: 62/100
English: 23/50
Reading: 54/100
Spelling: 7/25
Writing: 14/25
Arithmetic: 73/100
History: 42/50
Geography: 35/50
Nature Study or Science: 34/50
Drawing: 13/25
Handwork: Good
Conduct: Good
Total: 358/575
Place in class: 1
Remarks: Has made good progress this term.

There are some points to pick up here such as the number of subjects. The parents would have some basis to make comparisons about strengths and weaknesses. The absence of some of the social skills is missing but I wonder which style of report parents would enjoy. Would they prefer to be a little befuddled with the complexity of the figure-based report? Or would they prefer to be massaged by nice adjectives? Both reports have their weaknesses.

PS  

Place in class was also reported on in 1935.  The lad who took home the report above came. First in Class!