Every year he moans

I see Rory Barrett is moaning again:

Teachers say the NCEA maths exams that thousands of students have just completed were riddled with mistakes and contradictions.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life before,” said Rory Barrett, a maths teacher at Auckland’s Macleans College and former head of maths at one of the country’s top schools, Auckland Grammar.

He said he had trawled through each maths exam across NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 and said there were contradictions and mistakes in at least five papers. He has made an official complaint with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), which adds to the pile it has received in the past two weeks.

Rory Barrett does this every year. He moans. But let me tell you about the Rory Barrett I was inflicted with as a maths teacher at Auckland Grammar.

I had Rory Barrett as my maths techers for a year. Well he was only the teacher of our class in name only. You see he only attended about a quarter of classes, almost never arranged a reliever and when he did attend he would sit up the front with his feet on teh desk and bellow at us that we were to do the exercises on page x and y in textbook b, in silence.

If there was something that you didn’t understand then you only ever asked for assistance once. That was because he would mock you mercilessly in front of the class. It was so bad that by the end of the year there were more of us wagging his classes that attending. But because he only rarely attended class you were really wagging just by being there.

Oh yes we were all told how lucky we were to have such an eminent teacher sharing his pearls of wisdom about maths. The reality was Rory Barrett was inept, lazy, and a bully.

He was more interesting in coaching sweaty boys in weightlifting and wrestling than attending classes. He did tell us all the time, when he bothered to turn up about his skills at weightlifting. Whooppee, all we really wanted was a teacher.

I wasn’t the only one who thought that a teacher reliving his past glories as a weightlifter and showing off his thighs to a class full of boys was just a little bit creepy.

People often ask me about my abiding loathing of the teaching profession and ask why. Rory Barrett is just but one reason.


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  • Sars

    I, like you WO, have a loathing of school teachers that is hard to fathom. My bursary stats teacher spent the lessons harping on about classics (the subject she actually cared about) and no one learned anything. Yes, it was a small school. Our PE teacher left partway through the year because he was a territorial and he went to fight in East Timor – the principal hired some weirdo hippy science teacher from her old school as a replacement and he promptly cancelled Outdoor Education for 7th formers because he didn’t have the skills or qualifications to run the program. To me that embodies what Labour was like when they were in power – jobs for friends, even if they aren’t qualified. 

    The only thing that exceeds my dislike and distrust of teachers is my dislike and distrust of unions. 

  • Timbo

    When I read this story in the paper I wondered why he was a “a maths teacher at Auckland’s Macleans College” when he had been a “former head of maths at one of the country’s top schools, Auckland Grammar.”.  Having a position like that at Grammar would be the peak of a Maths teaching career so why would he change?  After reading your post it may not have been voluntary…

    • A-random-reader

      He left AGS to become the deputy principal out at St Kentigerns College in Pakuranga. After a few years in that position he had a major stroke and took a few years to recover. I haven’t seen him for years but I believe that he’s been working at Macleans since he recovered.

      Funnily enough I had him as a teacher for 7th form statistics. Though I remember him as being a bit of a legend in the classroom.

      AGS boys have always had a reputation for being academically spoon-fed. I’d suggest that Cameron’s post doesn’t do anything to dispell that reputation.

      • Timbo


      • Oh fuck off. you can;t be spoon fed or even taught if the wanker never showed up. He was more interested in weightlifting in the basement than anything else.

  • Honcho

    Theres at least one of those sorts at every school whale, thats the sad thing, there is just no getting away from it.

  • Cstaff121

    Rory Barrett – didn’t he write the 7th form textbooks from way back or something? Maybe it was someone else, but this brings up mems of our year 13 physics teacher, actually a real nice guy but who was so loose he’d turn up to class half an hour late to lay on the window bench in the sun and basically chat to any girl who bothered to turn up. My abiding memory was of him wandering out to the cricket pitch one day (ahem half an hour late) to ask in a quiet voice where the entire class was cos no one had turned up (day of the big game …) 

    He didn’t do much teaching either, but was fundamentally a nice guy.

    My overriding memory of my teachers is the extremes: the best were brilliant – sheer genius at transmitting their excitement and knowledge of the subject. We had a calc teacher (a 70+ y.o. cheerful buffoon who could remember the war and who was so set in place the school had his name painted above his door of his room (22 years and counting)) who was so phenomenally great everyone (even my maths hating gf) went to class. Another was an English teacher who almost had orgasms over Shakespeare and would go home every day to spend 3 hours preping for our next days class. Respect – when we found that out we learned to really appreciate it…even at age 16. Yet on the other flank was the substratum of sadism – the guys who would creepily smile when being ‘forced’ to use the strap. Those bastards would rule the class by fear (and also purposely divide the class against itself) – and put on the best of behaviour to the rest of the world. And that was well into the mid 80’s.
    Has the last bit changed?
    Goddamn hope so!

  • Bobby

    I had Rory as a teacher for two years back in the early 90s. My experience with him was he was a firm but good teacher. Definitely one of the better teachers I had in five years at AGS. Maybe he just had a thing against people who didn’t play sport or something Whale.

  • Justme

    Sixth form some years ago – creep read Penthouse behind his desk. We all knew and thought it was a great joke.

  • Justme

    Sorry, not Barrett. Just some random teach!

  • Peter Wilson

    My story is my chemistry teacher in 7th form. Bragged at his last school every single student passed the chemistry bursary exam. Took us til July to find out he had 3 students in his class.

    Oh yes, one time he spent 30 minutes writing up inane notes on a whiteboard, only to realise he had written in vivid ink, and not whiteboard marker. Not bad for a chemistry teacher eh. We realised half way through, and couldn’t wait til he realised. WHY didn’t we have cell phones in those days!

    • Justme

      Lol! My 7th form Maths teacher couldn’t care less about me or anyone else who sat at the back of the class! She was only interested in the “brainy” kids. What a bummer; I could be an MP now, lol!