Turning the tables

Last night was Miss Whaleoil’s choir recital. It was fantastic and of course the most beautiful girl in the choir was Miss Whaleoil.

The singing was wonderful, that is until one school got up and sang a song about the myth of Global Warming and all the things that we had to do to “save” the planet. Most of them involved distasteful things like re-using things, or recycling old things into brown things. Well stuff that. I like shiny new things and I’ll damn well have them despite the luddites.

Then I read in the NZ Herald a piece from Deborah Hill Cone, who is so must better writing mummy angst pieces than other things.

She wrote how no matter what the government mandates the teachers are still in control of our kids and how rooted that all is.

My daughter’s teacher – she once told me off for daring to help my daughter put her chair on her table “she can do it herself” – sat us briskly down with the manner of a chief executive leading an errant sales manager into the boardroom. A boardroom with teeny weeny chairs; you immediately feel at a disadvantage sitting with your chin on your knees. She produced a complicated chart with my daughter’s performance on various criteria for reading, writing and maths.

There was no positive feedback or praise. I got the distinct impression my daughter had been found wanting. Me too, in fact.

My daughter was apparently doing fine actually – as far as I could tell – but it was difficult to work this out as all the focus was on her areas of ineptitude. It seems this is what national standards do to you. She is 5. Let me say that a bit louder: SHE IS FIVE.

How did this craziness come to be? When I went to see the principal he said “Well there are National Standards now, you know.”

Yes, there are National Standards, and now that the teachers lost that battle, they are going to make sure that they shove the most screwed up version of standards down parents throats as possible and lay all the blame at Anne Tolley’s door step.

The school previously had a sign outside saying it did not support the introduction of national standards, so presumably this was not being done with especially good grace. I can’t help wondering whether teachers bringing in something like this reluctantly are actually going to do more harm than good – “sorry your child just got emotionally lacerated but it’s not our fault – blame Anne Tolley”.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? Nowhere good for parents or children.

The real problem here though, is not the national standards but the teachers themselves. I might support the Education Minister’s campaign to shake up the arrogant antiquated teachers union with its tenure for all, but damned if I want my small daughter being collateral damage. Tolley may have imposed national standards on them but when it comes to our kids, teachers still hold all the power.

When do I get a chance to turn the teeny weeny table and give the teacher a “parent-led” conference? She can sit in judgment on my 5-year-old daughter yet I get no say about her performance as a teacher? I’d like to sit her down on a small chair. I would tell her it’s most important to love kids and show them that learning is the coolest thrill they will have in life. I would tell her moods are contagious – if you have lots of positive energy kids will catch that. They are more likely to learn by having the best fun ever.

Of course if DHC did that, then the teacher, being a cowardly bully would then seek retribution upon the child. Does that mean we should give up on holding teachers to account? No, of course not, but we do have to be smart about it otherwise the dullards in the union dominated education sector will end up doing what they always do and socially engineering our children their way and now your way.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.