Saturday, September 13, 2008


I have for some time been a little bit disappointed at the direction New Zealand is headed. I have wanted to put my finger on what exactly it is that irks me and I often come back to the large gap between the “haves and have nots”. This doesn't really explain what I mean but things like the many, many “rich” people living in neighborhoods with bigger and bigger fences and the poorer neighborhoods which are now being called hoods. In the late 80’s I taught in Mangere and although the streets weren't affluent there were families, kids playing on the street, and there was a sense of pride, satisfaction and safeness in the community. Now on my recent sojourns to Mangere it is clearly not safe, dogs roam and scarf wearers walk the streets. It seems every low riding car is up to no good with its stereo blasting and a scarf being warn by a wannabe. So does this mean that in a poor suburb you have less hope or less chance of success. I’m not so sure we are that far down the track but the danger is if we do nothing then nothing will change or happen. Mrs Podgorani who avoids the web like the plague (online shopping aside) is reading a book called Affluenza by Oliver James.
It was a “nail on the head” moment for me, as soon as I heard the word Affluenza.
It is a plague, everyone wants what they cant have, or things that are out of their means. Keeping up with the Joneses in an obsessive, envious world driven by consumerism. All this is eating at the english speaking world, raising anxiety, addictions, and depression.
As I write this blog another tweet appears on the iphone and the keyboard backlight on my macbook pro kicks in, as the room dims slightly, arhhh consumerism.

How do we ensure that we pursue our needs and not our wants and how do we pass these values to our children.
Perhaps Affluenza will see a downfall of the affluent neighborhoods and the richness of culture in Mangere will again make it an area to be proud of. But I get the feeling that Affluenza is rooted too deeply in most areas of society, seemingly everyone has some sort of flat screen plasma or LCD. What can we do?

I pause a moment and think how do we keep it real.
Last night I attended the junior prize-giving at Waitemata Rugby Club. It was a “bring a plate” job. If you win a trophy you get a picture and the cup goes back in the cabinet. The club had an indoor bouncy castle, the NPC rugby was on the big screen, there was a smell of hot chips with vinegar and the bar was open for a few quiets.
All Black great Michael Jones spoke to the children about hard work, being honest, aiming high, choosing your friends carefully, and listening to your mum. Everyone stacked the local schools chairs up at the end of the night.
Today I dropped my son at the Hoani Waititi Marae for a kapa haka wanaga. Its a test night, the All Blacks are on. We go down for a look and we get a great feed of hot chocolate pudding with whipped cream. The boys go through their routine of waiata and haka and the quietly spoken twenty year old tutor congratulates with the skill of a classroom teacher. No sign of a TV but plenty of signs of laughter, mate-ship and aroha.

As schools we need to look at pursuing the needs of our children.
As parents we need to look at pursuing the needs of our children.
As adults we need to pursue our needs not our wants.
The (NZC) New Zealand Curriculum wants us to look at our values, if we don’t take this seriously and don’t consider the needs of students then Affluenza may be a plague. I get a bit annoyed at schools who claim they are already embedding the NZC and quotes like “nothing needs to change” or “we are already doing that”. Principals need to stop looking for reasons why NZC is bullshit and get on with the job of taking it seriously.

Mumbleboy pointed me to this little beauty from teacher tube


Bex said...

"So does this mean that in a poor suburb you have less hope or less chance of success." - I'm not sure we're not heading down this track some days. Many people who work in and with schools feel passionately about the "have nots" but I wonder if we can do anything sometimes. I think maybe the answer is that we can't do it alone. We need to pull a whole bunch of different groups together to focus on the issues people in places like Mangere face. The community focus seems to be lost and maybe that is because those who used to pull communities together are now working full time to support their families. How do we get people to make the time to foster community spirit? Is that the answer?? Why are some poor communities better to live in than others? For example, Pt England seems a nicer area, but is it any richer money-wise than Mangere? Being a Wellingtonian, I'm not sure...These are just my ramblings...but maybe there is something there you want to respond to. Love your podcasts - your writing is almost as entertaining as you in person!!

Bex said...

I meant blog, not podcast. It was late, I was tired.

Podgorani said...

Bex i know that youre talking ramblings etc but I think there is a question there, and possibly an answer.
I think that as a teacher you are one of those people who can and are making a difference in your communities. I know that Russ and Dorothy are a perfect example of people who make a difference. Teachers are in that position, whether we like it or not. So if you are passionate and creating a buzz in your children's lives then you are helping pull together a community and if your school is buzzing then you are making a BIG difference

MrWoody said...

marvellous - have linked via blog too. really enjoying your posts.