Thursday, January 27, 2011

Epic Fail

I’ve been stewing on this post for a while. So do we sit back and say nothing or do we just accept the case, close our eyes and get on with our lives. I’m talking about the kid who was found in a cupboard after Cypfs returned the kids to their parents. They were taken away from the family for seven years, then returned after someone/group of people said these parents were now fixed and fit to have kids. They then tortured and beat the kids and one girl seemed to get the worst of it.
Every school has sorry cases, I have seen some really bad shit when it comes to kids. Stuff that made me so angry, mainly because I was powerless. However there were people that held power in this case and they failed the children.
I know the school and teachers didn’t beat the kid, but they more than anyone should, and will be, asking themselves “could we have done better”.

Maybe we should all ask, what can we learn from this?

Every teacher can take a lesson from this: stand up for kids when no-one else will, trust your gut feeling, say something, take special interest in those children without friends, listen, get to know your kids, get to know the families of your children.

Every leader can learn something here: trust your staff, listen, get to know your families, make it your business, don’t accept peoples word - actions are far more trustworthy.

I know that over the years I have hesitated over Cypfs and making that phone call, only to find out after making the call that the family has a track record as long as your arm. It’s a bit like accepting bad behaviour and then putting your foot down, if you were vigilant all along you wouldn’t need to shout or even raise your voice, it’s about setting standards and maintaining them.
I cant blame people for this sad shit, I don’t know the truth, but I can and will learn from it.
I know NZ wants the best for these poor kids. I hope they are with a great family enjoying life. And want to say how sorry we are for what happened to you guys!

NCEA- My 50 cents

I'm a bit bored of the whole debate with Auckland Grammar choosing to go with Cambridge int exams and not doing the new zealand curriculum. However I have looked at the calendar for 2011 and I note that the last day for kids doing CIE exams is October the 7th. They then have two weeks holidays and the first day back after the holidays the CIE exams start.

So if i teach say, History for Y11, 12 ,13 at Grammar/any cambridge school, I don't have any classes after October the 7th, I have no marking either. I will however teach again in early February 2012. Possibly getting nearly 4 months out of the classroom. So if they are on an average salary of about 80k ( a unit of two) then they are getting about $1000 a week in the hand for 4 months of what.

Yes this is a simplistic view, but its getting quite laughable, its not Grammar here, its every Cambridge school.
No moderation, no marking final exams, a three term year, 4 months non contact.
Who is really getting the advantages?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vodafone or Bust

We all know that the smartphone market is all about data, something the telcos didn’t get right when the first plans came out. Now the data is coming and we are eating it up, unless you have an iphone on vodafone.

So iphone is going to be a wifi distributer, great news you say. Well here is the first thing you need to do. GET OFF VODAFONE NOW. I had 4 years of vodafone on 3g and then 3gs and Voda kindly gave us 3gig per month. So in 4 years the most I used in a month was 240mb, here’s why, the network is so slow that it crawls, forget youtube it just spins, forget app store for anything of a decent size (5mb) and basically wait ages for mail and twitter to refresh and safari to load. If you are in denial then sit beside me and we will speed test, you will lose!
So I went to iphone 4 and went to Telecom XT, the hated network with the bad reputation. Result ? = unbelievable

I’m in rural northland tethering to my Air and internet sharing, son on ipod using Vonage talking to his mate in Wales, wife on ipad getting email and clicking through to links to online shopping, daughter on macbook (god knows what she is up to) me using the air to bet on the TAB and send texts on the iphone while thethering. The pages are loading with a snap.
In exactly the same spot using 3gs with Vodafone I couldn’t use the browser on the iphone because it timed out. It was slower than dial up !

I speed test from rural northland on the iphone and get 5.4mb down and 1.2mb up. I go to Waitangi, same news, Whangarei marginally slower but blistering compared to that other nonsense.

The answer is in the bandwidth that vodafone (900/2100mhz) and telecom (750-850mhz) networks run on. The iphone is built to run on Telecoms 3G (850mhz) frequency, it can run partially on Vodafones 3G frequency. So this is a known fact but that doesnt mean anything, it’s just a sales pitch. Well you carry on with Vodafone and your 2 and a half G network and I will blister away with endless mobile broadband in my hand. Oh there is a possible savior on its way for the vodafone iphone users, the new phones for Verizon may have a different mhz, but you would need a new iphone and a long wait (something you are used to if you're on Vodafones network).

Good luck suckers, enjoy your iphone at half speed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Our forgotten 15-year-old classroom stars

I read the latest report and wanted to write a blog about the OECD scores and reports, however the fishing, drinking, golf, sun, beaches, food, dog, family got in the way, so I copied this one from an academic with far better wordsmithmanship, enjoy.

Why aren't we celebrating our international success in education, asks Warwick Elley, emeritus professor of education.

In a year when our news was dominated by reports of earthquakes and mine tragedies, collapsed companies, droughts and cricketing disgrace, it was great to learn that our 15-year-olds are still in the top echelons of the OECD in reading, science and maths.

In the latest survey, New Zealand students were ranked fourth out of 34 OECD nations in reading literacy, fourth in scientific literacy and seventh in mathematical literacy.

Why isn't it front page news?

Why don't we celebrate the achievement of our schools in producing so many bright students, with so little per capita expenditure?

At this time, when schools are completing their academic year, and plaudits are being handed out to our top sports teams, business leaders and media stars, we should be congratulating our rank and file teachers for drawing the best out of thousands of children, and showing the world that we still have a great education system.

As in all past OECD surveys, New Zealand students were shown to achieve near the top, surpassed only by countries with ethnically homogenous populations such as Finland, Korea and Japan.

A quick glance at our results in literacy shows that our mainstream Pakeha students had a mean score higher than any other country. We may value our ethnic diversity, but we should also allow for its influence on educational outcomes when evaluating the quality of our education.

This year we showered congratulations on our All Whites, for making it into the top 50 nations in the soccer world.

Our 15 year-olds were fourth in the OECD survey.

This year we celebrated when our Silver Ferns defeated Australia in netball. Our 15-year-olds beat Australia in reading, science and maths. This year we proclaimed our All Blacks as heroes for shutting out South Africa, Australia and each of the UK teams. But so did our 15-year-old students. Did anyone notice?

There is much more to learn from the comparative results of the OECD survey.

While New Zealand students maintained their position near the top, Australian authorities are deploring their "significant decline since 2000" on all the skills measured.

The Ministry of Education in England has called for wholesale reform as their own report shows that, in the survey of all 65 nations that participated in the survey, their students slipped from seventh in 2000 to 25th in reading, eighth to 28th in maths and fourth to 16th in science.

Meanwhile, another country we like to compare ourselves with, the United States, languishes well down the scale, around the average of all OECD countries. So much for former President George W. Bush's hopes for the No Child Left Behind programme.

All three of these countries spend more per capita on education than we do, yet all show lower performance levels.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for our Minister of Education.

Throughout this period, 2000 to 2009, all three of these countries have had in place a system of national (or state) standards in primary schools, with annual compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables designed to rank their schools.

We too are introducing a system of national standards, compulsory assessments, reports to government and league tables in our primary schools.

How long before we start to drop off the top of the OECD scale? It is no wonder that teachers in all these countries are continually protesting against the obvious drawbacks in this system. It is of note that the significant decline in the Australian figures was caused largely by a drop in the proportion of high achievers.

Is that where we are heading?

It is true that the latest survey still shows a wide dispersion of scores among New Zealand students.

We have more high achievers than other countries, but still too many at the lower end of the scale. However, the proportion of Kiwi students who did not reach Level 2 - the OECD benchmark of being able "to participate effectively and productively in life" - was 14 per cent, not the much-vaunted 20 per cent claimed by the Government.

These under-achievers are readily recognised in this survey. They can be identified by gender, by decile level and by ethnic group, but repeated studies overseas show us that compulsory assessment and league tables do not change them.

The recent Council Educational Research survey revealed that 85 per cent of principals and 86 per cent of teachers believe that National Standards "will not change the patterns of achievement".

The Minister of Education may welcome the positive feedback she is receiving from some parents about clearer reports of their children's achievement levels, but only 5 per cent of principals believe that they will help under-achievers.

The problems lie not so much in schools' efforts, but in such social problems as poverty, dysfunctional families, and home language traditions. In a year of frequent teacher-bashing, we should recognise that we have many dedicated, competent teachers, doing great things for our children's minds, and our future national prosperity.

Merry Christmas New Zealand teachers. Pat yourselves on the back.

By Warwick Elley

or this might happen in NZ it's happening in Australia