Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Curriculum: The Treaty of Waitangi

It was an interesting process to critique the draft NZ Curriculum last year with my department, and write some feedback on it. We were somewhat cynical about the extent to which the draft was really open to negotiation, but we proceeded anyway in good faith.

A colleague of mine reports that she is pleasantly surprised at how many changes were made between draft and final version, and how many of our concerns were addressed. I can't say that I've studied the new curriculum in enough detail to know, but there was one hugely obvious change which was nice to see.

The draft did not once mention the Treaty of Waitangi. It was entirely omitted from the document. There was a single sentence about NZ's bicultural heritage and multicultural society, and that was it.

The new curriculum not only mentions the treaty, it places quite a lot of emphasis on it in the Purpose and Scope section (at the start of the curriculum document):

"...give effect to the partnership that is at the core of our nation's founding document, Te Tiriri o Waitangi / the Treaty of Waitangi."

The section on Principles has also been modified. The draft had the following areas as the foundations of curriculum decision making:

Excellence, Learning to Learn, Cultural Heritage, Equity, Connections, Coherence

This was where the reference to NZ's makeup came in:

Cultural Heritage
All students experience a curriculum that reflects New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and its multicultural society. Students who identify as Màori have the opportunity to experience a curriculum that reflects and values te ao Màori.

The final document has slightly different principles:

High Expectations (replaces Excellence, but still talks about personal excellence in the explanation), Learning to Learn, Treaty of Waitangi, Community Engagement, Cultural Diversity, Coherence, Inclusion, Future Focus.

It's been really interesting to be part of the criticism, and see the changes in the final document. It's quite a difference, separating the Treaty and Multiculturalism, rather than lumping them together under Cultural Heritage. I'm not convinced that I wouldn't have had a knee-jerk reaction to such a change when I was a racist teenager, but as a (somewhat) more grown up individual, I am now very pleased that one of the things that makes NZ special, part of our unique character of having a founding document that recognises the importance of indigenous culture, is recognised in the document which underpins our education system.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New Curriculum PD

3.30pm - 5pm yesterday:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Where's all the sucking?

For some reason I was expecting Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer to be bad. I wasn't overly impressed with the first movie - actually, I thought it was pretty weak overall. The trailer for Silver Surfer looked pretty cool, but you really can't judge a film by its trailer. Maybe I saw some bad reviews? Or maybe the terrible, mind-shattering banality of Ghost Rider had tainted my view of this season's superhero outings.

Whatever the case, we watched the DVD this weekend, and I was very, very impressed. I actually really enjoyed the film on pretty much every level, and would rate it as one the better films of its genre, despite not being a huge Fantastic Four fan (though I do quite like the Silver Surfer).

It had a good amount of intra-four drama, use of powers for silly and heroic things, epic scale end-of-the-world special effects, and a well done surfer. All in all, I thought it was a really good comic-book-on-screen film.

And I thought it was going to suck...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bumbling along...

School is much less busy this week. I even had time to pop home for a few minutes to visit Debbie - a nice walk in the sun. There's still work to do, all sorts of little things that will keep me occupied, but the relentless churn of deadlines and classes has slowed down considerably.

Not long to the holidays, too!

I'd better go rehydrate, and prep for my one class of the day :-)

Monday, November 12, 2007

It lives!

This evening during the news, I was very distracted by the visible movements of our son. He was wriggling and kicking, and his kicks could be seen quite clearly through Debbie's t-shirt. He has some powerful kicking muscles.

In unrelated news, I have discovered that I quite like the Tommy cologne. Debbie had a bottle of cologne accidentally bought for her (she likes the girl version), and I gave it a try. It's quite a nice, fresh sort of a fragrance.

Work is kuh-razy busy, what with the prizegivings and all. Will calm down a whole bunch after Friday, when the senior students go on study leave. I will only have 2 classes and 2 junior prizegivings to arrange, unlike the 4 ceremonies the seniors have...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Promoted again :-)

So, I applied for two promotions this year, and I didn't get either of them. One was HoD English, and the other was Assistant HoD English. I did, however, get a pay rise to the same level as Assistant HoD, and was given the title 'Associate HoD'. What does that mean?

Well, it means that the school didn't want to have to choose between the top 3 candidates for a job, so they found a way to give the job to one person, but give recognition to the other 2 top applicants. Of course, the other 2 applicants (me and a friend of mine at school) are both taking on other non-English responsibilities (deaning and prizegiving), and may well have been eligible for the pay rises anyway, but it's nice that they've given us each a new title and told us very explicitly that they want us to be part of the management structure.

I'm particularly happy that my responsibilities next year look like they'll be bigger without being overwhelming. Commensurate with the extra pay, most likely. Of course, teaching's not a career that is hugely highly paid anyway, and management roles are pretty tough and time-consuming, but I'm pretty positive about next year.

And I'm thinking about making myself an 'Associate HoD' badge, to flash in department meetings when I say "Check the badge, buddy. I'm pullin' rank. You don't like it? Take it up with the HoD."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Weekend, how I love you!

Stressful week last week - lots of school deadlines, interview for 2IC English (on Friday afternoon, after lunch), moderation of speeches, and a show in the evening. Yikes!

Now it is the weekend, just one more show to go, the back lawn has been attacked and subdued with a lawn-mower, and we're about to go out and get rid of a bunch of recyclables. I think we're also picking up some groceries while we're out, although time is ticking away and we may end up doing only a quick shop.

Fascinating, huh?

The show continues to be awesome, but crowds are smaller than was hoped. Of particular note to me was the total lack of kids from my school, despite my hard out pimpage of the show in daily notices, with posters, and through personally bugging a large number of my students. Hopefully all the kids who said they were coming (about 10 or so were for-sure keen) will show up tonight, with others in tow.

It has lead to some speculation about what the best methods are for getting students motivated enough to come along to a show. Typical methods include:

- have a big cast so the pool of friends and family is large (there are about 17 kids on stage in this show?)
- contact local newspapers and radio stations
- daily notices in school
- posters
- announcements/skits in assemblies
- competitions to give away free tickets
- have your show in the middle of the year when people aren't so tired

It's very hard to know which of these scattergun methods is most effective.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I am now taking a micro-break from marking a whole bunch of Year 13 work. The deadline for getting results onto the system for internally assessed work is fast looming (a week and a half or so away), and my Y13 class have decided to swamp me with all the work they didn't do earlier in the year.

It's much the same as last year, something I was aware was coming, but it's still a hell of a shift in gears as their output more than trebles as their time draws to a close.

THe exhaustion is exacerbated by the play that is on at the moment, which I will be filming tonight (and tomorrow if there's a problem with tonight's run). The show is hilarious - I had to take my glasses off at one point to wipe away the tears of laughter. Of course, I felt a little self-conscious laughing so uproariously at what were, in some cases, my own jokes. But that's OK, just because I helped write it doesn't make it any less funny, and the performances have taken some of the material to levels of goodness beyond what I'd hoped for. The Te Reo teacher especially rocked the house in his guest role, though it was a close-run thing with some of the students as to who was the funniest.