Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Education System Needs Help.

Unbelievable! Here in New Zealand a couple now have a criminal conviction because of their son wagging school. From the reports I've read it seems the couple did their best to get their son to go to school having been involved in numerous meetings with the school.

This is one of those stories where all the details will never be known and, yes. there are two sides to every story. But.....

Two thoughts come to mind.
The first is; How is convicting the parents going to change the attitude of the son?
The second is this. We are becoming a nation that is increasingly blaming parents when kids go bad. But what about the education system that many kids seem to find so disagreeable that would prefer to wonder the streets aimlessly all day or sit in front of a computer screen playing games all day.
The bottom line is that the education system of the western world is a major part of the problem. There are thousands of students in New Zealand that simply don't fit the antiquated academic structure.
The trouble with 'Tomorrows-Schools' is that they are based on yesterdays society.
Education should be like a recipe. The ingredients only taste good when they are all put together in the right amount. Unfortunately, our education system tries to feed the ingredients to our children as individual items. As an example, maths on its own is like eating a teaspoon of salt. English on its own is like a cup of flour. On there own these items will make you feel sick but when you mix them with other ingredients they become much more tasty. In education the 'other ingredients' need to be skills/trades/creative endeavours that have meaning for the student. Take for instance a student interested in cars and engines. They are far more likely to learn maths through cylinder angles and spark plug gaps than they will from the 'teaspoon-of-salt' approach of a maths text book.
A world authority on this subject is Sir Ken Robinson. There are a number of You-tube clips of him speaking. These links are to two of his best....

If these ideas were incorporated into our education system I doubt that we would have parents being convicted by such a stupid law.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Growing Division

In my last post I mentioned the price of milk and that was before Campbell-Live jumped on the bandwagon.
I'm pleased to see that some NZ media are starting to take notice of serious social issues. As John Campbell referred to the other night, it's not just the price of milk that is way out of line but New Zealands other primary industry, Beef and Lamb, also appears to be 'creaming it' at the expense of many New Zealanders financial and physical well-being.
Mr Keys comments about people on benefits over the past week won't win him any votes but what is more alarming is the number of New Zealanders that agree with him. The comments I've read from supporters of Mr Keys comments show a growing division between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' and it's not just a financial division any more. I sense that there is a growing lack of tolerance and understanding toward the under-priviledged and poor in New Zealand. Too many people are being labelled 'lazy' if they recieve a benefit. May be its the people doing the labelling who should be called lazy. Obviously, they haven't bothered to talk to the social agencies who run food-banks and listen to the people on the front line who are stretched to the limit trying to provide enough food parcels for those who desparately need them.

New Zealand has a long tradition of being a country that helps their fellow countryman when help is needed, no questions asked. That should be our policy toward those on benefits, just help them, no questions asked.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Advice to Mr Key & Mr Goff

The Superbowl has been and gone for another year in the States but here in New Zealand there's two Superbowls this year. One happens to be a little sports event called the Rugby World Cup and the other is the General election. It is very debatable as to which is the more important event for New Zealand.

My knowledge of Rugby is limited to yelling at the TV when the ref makes bad call against the team I'm supporting.

My knowledge of politics isn't much better. I don't recall yelling at the TV when the anti-smacking bill was passed, but if I had it would have been drowned out by the shouts of joy from my kids.

If the All Blacks loose the World Cup I don't want to be blamed for having given Mr Henry any advice so I'll give our politicians some free advice instead...

To give both the major parties a fighting chance here's a little free advice for Mr Key and Mr Goff.

Firstly, both parties have policies that are too similar. If you showed the average Joe Bloggs the major policies of each party, he wouldn't be able to tell which was National and which was Labour.
(In hindsight, since coming to power in 2008 National have been more faithful to their founding core philosophies than Labour was in their nine years in office.)

Mr Goff, you need to get your party back on the left wing. If you don't someone will steal a lot of your support if a new left wing party is formed in this country.
New Zealand is fast developing a very fertile climate for a major left wing socialist party simply because the rich are getting richer and the poor are stuffed.

Mr Key, you will win this years election but it won't be because of your parties policies. It's simply because you have a charismatic personality that can't be matched by anyone in the Labour Party.
For your policies to win voters over their has to be a significant injection of income into the pockets of middle and lower class New Zealand. How you do this is up to you but there has never been a better time for a New Zealand Government to radically revamp this countries financial policies. We've led the world before with policies that benefited all New Zealanders so why can't we do it again?

It amazes me that politicians are forever talking about the importance of 'saving for your future'. HELLO! How can people save money when they're useing their credit card to make ends meet. I'm not just talking about people on benefits. I'm talking about working New Zealanders who have no choice but to keep on going until the bank or finance company pulls the plug.

At this stage, I'm not loyal to any particular party and I've written this without prejudice toward any party. My honest advice to all parties is to listen to the people. If social support agencies are saying people are struggling to afford basic necessities such as milk, don't bury your head in statistics. Get out on the streets and see for yourself.