Monday, August 27, 2012

Walking the dog--what's in it for me?

I’ve been walking Perdy for 18 months now.
She’s 2 and a bit and has a love of life that exceeds measurement.
Her tail wags so hard when I arrive home that I have thought she should be connected to a dynamo.
If dogs could smile her face would not be big enough!
She fills my car with the sounds of joy and anticipation, even though she has travelled there hundreds of times.
She talks to me in whimpers and barks; all saying---hurry up---are we there yet?
When we arrive, she strains at her leash and then bounds off over the sand, looking back to see if I have thrown her bright orange ball.
On the first bounce she is there, to capture it in her mouth.
The ball is at my feet ready for dozens of repeats, only interrupted by the arrival of her mates---Finn and Patch.
Bedlam results as they greet each other.
It sounds like a war; their rough tumbling is often mistaken for something serious by those not in the ‘know’ about these canine delinquents.
Off around the Bay, frolicking in the water and losing their bright balls down the holes.
The Jack Russell  in her wants to chase rats, but the ball has to suffice.
An hour later, she relents and lets me take her home.
For me---- another walk and a feeling that things are sometimes right in the world.
Love ya Perdy.

Free food for low decile schools in New Zealand?

It is sad that we are seeing a proposal for free food in over 200 lower decile schools in New Zealand; sad because there is a real need for such a programme and possibly sad because it will be a further drain on the energy levels of already over-worked teacher and support staff.
How has New Zealand reached such a desperate situation? The child poverty figures sow us that the need exists. Some would say however that it is not the job of schools to feed children, although many have been doing it for years in the form of breakfast clubs and other ways.
Children have been coming to school hungry for as long as I have been in the educational sector, but I believe that the problem is far worse now. That means that children can go all day without eating. The ramifications for a child’s learning are pretty obvious and as for resulting behavioural issues------just ask any teacher in target schools.
There have been many initiatives over the years to address child poverty, but they have failed to deliver a decrease in the number of children living below the poverty line. Do we increase benefits; some of them targeted for food, or do we resources schools at a higher level to enable them to address some of the daily needs of children what are not being met now? That is a difficult question. Is it the role of the State to take away for a parent the right to ‘provide?’ I have heard arguments that if the school/State does get heavily involved in ‘feeding children’ then some parents would simply renege on their responsibilities to their families.
That there are genuinely deprived families out there is beyond question, but the matter is far more complex ta n simply handing out food. If we take a deeper look at what is happening for many families, we will see a range of scenarios, ranging from ‘bad parenting/ budgeting’ right through to genuine poverty. Who will decide which kids get the help?
I know that at some schools where ‘breakfast clubs’ operate, that for some, there is a sense of shame in accepting the help. (I am sure those of you from England can tell stories about the school lunch programme and how it is perceived by some). I have seen the ‘club’ used as an inducement to get kids to arrive at school on time. I have also seen that even with this incentive, kids still arrive late and hungry, so again there is no easy answer or explanation for all of our ‘hungry kids.’
So where do we go with the suggestion as proposed? Do we go for it and see if things change; that is if the Government sees fit to finance such a scheme in these difficult times? Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture of why we have this poverty in New Zealand. I very much doubt that this Government is going to be willing to make the changes that will narrow the gap between rich and poor, because it is at the very centre of their philosophical/political position, not to do so. Where to then?

Handstands and cartwheels in school---Hell no!

Please someone tell me that it is April the first and that what I am reading about a school in Sydney is untrue and that the principal is just taking the piss because he is having a bad hair day. How the hell can children doing cartwheels and handstands be detrimental in any way unless they are in the presence of a ‘trained’ physical education teacher with the correct equipment?
Come on Aussie--- you are a country that prides itself on its sporting achievements; indeed you were in the top ten countries for the Olympics. If you let this claptrap bullshit PC stuff spread then look towards a nation of wimps and pussies. Strong unPC language I know, but this has brought out my ‘is this for real side?’ Then my words will tend towards the less gentle and unacceptable.
I hope that this idiocy doesn’t spread and that the down to earth Aussie character we all love will come out on top. I can just hear some of the possible comments that will be inundating the airwaves. The rest of the world will be laughing but at the same time be wondering if some twat in their health or education departments will be looking and saying--- ‘maybe they have got a point there.’
Maybe they will ban kids running in the playground next, in case they fall over and bruise their little knees. God help us all.

So what's reallly new with the latest reports about drug use and damage to young people?

Anyone working with young people for more than a few years should be able to read the report in the NZ Herald today about drug/substance use and not be surprised at the claims. For many years I have seen persistent ‘users’ gradually ‘dropping out’ of the zone when it comes to learning.
These kids become disinterested in education as they move towards that space where they are continually looking for the next hit. There is a large gap between those starting out and the hardened users, but the trend becomes clear very quickly.
We don’t need expensive studies to tell us this, but I suppose we need them for the policy makers in order to justify the expense on programmes using tax payer money. Any teacher (even those in Primary and Intermediate schools) can tell you what they have seen over the years. This knowledge has been with us for a very long time. We have also read and seen reports from those working in the D and A field that using substances for a young person, with a brain that is still in its formative stage is like ‘pouring poison on a plant while it is still growing. Who in their right mind would do that?
The use of Marijuana in New Zealand schools is endemic, or at least on the way to and from schools. Many schools have used ‘drug dogs’ but that can be a waste of time if students have access to cell phones (and how many don’t now!). The word gets around as soon as the dogs appear and---voila---- the drugs disappear.
We have a huge problem with our kids using drugs. I know, some of you reading this knew all about it in the 70’s and beyond when I was a young teacher with you. The fact is that the stuff you were smoking was way less powerful than that available today. Despite that, some young people back then still entered a world that was very difficult to extract them form. I often wonder if the users of the past went on to become the ‘P’ users of today. I would really appreciate some anonymous feedback about that.
I short---- I wish we could find a way to steer our young teenagers away from D and A, but I know we have a massive fight on our hands. ‘Stand Up’ Programmes in some of our schools need to be expanded and rolled out into all schools.

Samoa---it is so nice to see you

I often wonder who is reading my blogs (or books). All of a sudden in the last few weeks I have seen large numbers of hits from Samoa. That's great, having a Pacific neighbour joining us. Try reading Roskill, one of my books. I am sure you will find it interesting. Go to and send me a message. I am sure I can do a better price for you.

Nature takes a dim view re the Republican Convention

Nature is indeed wise. From the deep sea her ire is raised at the probability of yet more ‘words’ of deception from Romney as he crows and struts his stuff to an unfortunate  audience. He will make claims that are patently untrue on order to win over an already misinformed electorate.
Let’s face it; the media, especially Fox News, has already softened that audience up to the point where they no longer recognize the truth. They will clutch their ‘bibles’ which they have read cover to cover, yet come away from that with a totally different perspective than so many others. That of course is their right even if it does nothing to make the USA a better country.
Off shore, ‘Isaac’ roils and twists as he heads towards Florida, hoping to make landfall near the convention. He wants to blow away the empty words and bring about a fresh approach. Whilst he does his thing, a huge number of Americans are too busy making ends meet, watching trashy sitcoms or ‘reality’ shows on TV, generally unaware of the coming battle at the end of the year.
No amount of windblown reminders from Isaac will make one iota of difference so Isaac will blow himself out upon sandy shores and empty hearts. IN the meantime, Gods name will be invoked for all sorts of spurious policies by sanctimonious party hacks as they attempt to show unity and loyalty to a totally inept leader. He will not be scrutinized in a manner that will bring clarity and he will ready himself for the final battle------unless Isaac gains strength and puts off the battle for another day. In the end even ‘nature cannot avoid the folly of ‘man.’