The new school year has started, it’s reported that in many cases there is also a grumpy teaching staff coming back to School as well. It seems the teachers are not refreshed, full of complaints regarding the new Reporting System the Government is introducing. In my mind many shouldn’t even be in this profession at all, and from time to time my view is continually being reinforced. There is a glaring need for a reporting system and informing parents progress of their children. I speak from our personal experience gained from the hands in the system. If the reported News is to believed, some Headmasters are ready to do battle with the Minister of Education over the reporting of progress of students. All doing their damnest to fudge the introduction, demanding trials, and anything else they can dream up to delay. They lost this battle long ago when ‘Today’s Schools’ was introduced by David Lange, then some of their power was largely transferred over to the School Committees. I could tell them, stop wasting time, this is one battle they are not going to win. I have no sympathy for them at all. As well I have a personal axe to grind. For all that, the teacher’s Union who seem to be the force behind their campaign, all powerful, but not as bad as the Teacher’s Union in New York as reported this week in ‘Time Magazine’. There according to the article, the power there that Union wields is unbelievable, it’s near impossible for the authorities to fire a teacher, even one accused of a crime, or worse, a drug addition. Also in New York Authorities are even forbidden by law to evaluate teacher performance by using student test results. ‘Union again’. It would seem our teachers are or would like to go down the same path.


Years ago when we had children at school, one so called teacher tried his damnedest to damage my son’s education because, he considered that I questioned his ability as an educator. It started simply enough with the question over dinner. ‘What did you do at School today, Son?’. He replied, ‘Gardening’. On subsequent occasions our questions were the same, And always a one word reply, ‘Gardening’. This didn’t seem right to me, so I made a visit to see his teacher who confessed that he had a classroom of these, ‘Dummies’, (his words) and rather than have them disrupting his classes and wasting his time, he had kept them occupied by working in the school gardens. On reporting this to Jessie, my ‘mother in law’ who was also a teacher. She in her time had brought up many ‘Lame Dogs’ to speed, and gave them a start in life. Her reaction was an immediate, and resulted in a visit by the family to the Otago University to have our boy accessed, and to find out if there was anything wrong with his brain, or for that matter his learning ability. ‘Above average’, was their verdict. But you should know, he can’t read. To assist us we were given a list of helpful reading material that we should obtain. ‘Give this to your teacher, you will have to pay for it as you can’t access it yourself’. We did just this, and the result was the teacher ‘Williams’ flew into a rage, that we had the audacity to challenge his ability as a teacher, and go over his head for help. As far as the sourcing of any reading material, that would come under the heading of, ‘Passive Resistance’ nothing was done in spite of repeated inquiries. A short time later it was time to move on to Waitaki High, I went along with my son to enrol him. The Rector John Donaldson was on an enforced Sabbatical, and the Assistant Archie Gibb was in charge. I told him why I was present, and what are they going to do about my situation. He told me they I had no idea of the enormity of their problem. They had classrooms of these ‘non readers’ and they were bringing back a retired Headmaster from Waimate School to run a remedial reading programme. What a treasure he was, he kept me in touch by reporting weekly. We did our part by introducing and reading with Rod every exciting book in the Library. It would seem to me, the problem arose when educators changed from the ‘Phonetic’ method of teaching students to read, to something called ‘Look and See’. The teacher at the Intermediate could claim that he too was a victim of the system, but in my mind he was really was part of the problem. He made no effort to advise the parents what was going on, and when we entered the picture, he was obstructive. As I saw it, he was the one who should have been the person out Gardening


Rod would have made a good gardener, but as it turned out he was able to manage a Bank. Young Doug Maxwell when I was discussing this article, he said that he had the same problem, Now he considered that he had dropped out of University because of problems he was having expressing himself with ‘English’. He too overcame his handicap, and rose to the top of another profession. I came across many adults in my daily life who were the same, or worse. l was quick to zero in on their problem, and helped them with form filling in, or their cheque writing, pretending I wasn’t aware of their problem. My wife a nurse at the Medical Centre where she also had several others under her wing. Many were unable even to fill in the admission paper to see the doctor. The damage these people did to many in our community is unforgivable.


My hope for the future is that teachers will see the light and perhaps start thinking for themselves, and not be lead around by control freaks.





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