Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Complexity of Educational Change

"Most change is unplanned" Fullan, 1993:138

This quote strikes a chord for me.

 In my experience, much of the change processes I have found myself managing as a leader - some quite significant (school reorganisation in a network, school closure, health and safety issues around buildings - to name but a smidgeon of processes) have been something that has been imposed upon the school - not something that has been actively sought for the purposes of improved teaching and learning outcomes.

In the same respect, it could be said that curriculum developments in recent years have also been imposed, as opposed to sought.  When something is rushed, it tends to be under thought and over sold. Some years later, after such under planned curriculum changes where implemented, the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost - and they are not, as current research recently released indicates, particularly successful changes.  (cue major understatement - however that is a post for a later time)

Unexpected and unplanned changes are fraught with challenge.  The skills required are vast, and the variables to manage myriad.  The ability to think outside the box, remain positive, put your best foot forward, and to tackle the change with tenacity and professional aplomb, is essential.

As I write, the end of the year is nigh upon us.  Educators across the country are busy at work putting effort into our Charters, Strategic and Annual Plans, and setting targets to improve teaching and learning outcomes.  This is all 'change' that is, in theory,  planned for (albeit through an imposed system, one might argue).

We pour over our data, we look through our self review and we find ourselves strategically putting together, through various forms of consultation, a number of processes and systems for the following years that have at its heart, improved teacher and learner capacity.

This change is the easier to plan for.  Where the challenge lies is in predicting (if indeed that is possible) for the 'unplanned changes', or accommodating and having in place some form of stragtegy that allows you to manage the imposed changes or those changes that sneak up, and are therefore,  difficult to predict.

The challenge for leaders is to carefully manage the competing demands of imposed change, alongside the need for change that is defined by the school, from the data and needs identified within the school - that is, change that is needed for growth and to ensure improved outcomes.

Change is constant.

It is inevitable and indeed, the need to embrace change is undeniable.

We may not like the imposed changes or find it easy to embrace the changes that are unexpected, but one truth about the complexities of educational change that I am assured of, is that for the most part, educational leaders  are capable of great things for students, staff and communities when they manage, lead and inspire others through it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Self Esteem People Suckers

Some people suck the self esteem right out of you...

Have you noticed these 'self esteem suckers' wandering the universe, preying on unsuspecting people going about their daily business?

I am sure you know the ones I am referring to.  They are the members of our society that you can trace back and find, just by following the path of human destruction they leave behind in their wake.   This path is littered with quivering, insecure, unmotivated, depressed and shaken individuals who dared to get in the way of (or merely be in the same timezone as) a SEPS (Self Esteem People Sucker).

 Types of SEPS (not by any means a definative list - just those I have noticed more of)

1. The Underhand SEPS

These are the people who like to set victims up with a trap.  They are sneaky and not to be under estimated.  The victim that falls into the trap will have been so well set up that they will often be blindsided by an event, and before they can blink the whole world (well those who work with them or are in their class) will be against them.  A nasty dangerous individual who pretends to be on your side but is out for their own means.  They undermine others, and as a result an individuals self esteem plummets because they perceive that the world is against them.   The best way to counteract this SEPS is to keep your eyes open, remain consistent and never buy into the game play.

2. The Wrecking Ball SEPS

The wrecking ball is the person who barges in and tramples down and crushes another person with no thought about their feelings.  They are not interested in rebuilding and strengthening others, only in the destruction of anything that gets in their way.

3. The Machiavellian SEPS

Beware the cunning and conniving Machiavellian.  These SEPS will manipulate and twist their victim until it is too late.   How they excel in sucking out self esteem is that they know how to push a persons buttons, undermining what someone believes and as a result crumbling their self esteem so that the person no longer can see or believe the reality of what is going on.

4. The Egotistical SEPS

As the title would suggest, these people are convinced that the world revolves around them, and that everyone should bow to their every whim and desire.  They suck the self esteem in others by leaving someone feeling neglected, unfulfilled and very disappointed.   These SEPS have an ego bigger than the average mountain, and are usually loud, obnoxious and totally self absorbed.

5. The Negative SEPS

Nothing is ever going to go right for the Negative SEPS.  You can not miss these SEPS - they are the ones who are moaning and groaning.  Any positive comment by a person is counteracted with a negative downer.  Tell them you have a new car, and you will get a 5 minute lecture on how much more expensive it will be to run your car, how that brand breaks down and how your petrol costs have just increased.  We all know a negative SEPS - watch they don't suck your self esteem by breaking down your positive outlook.   Keep on smiling - they hate that.  A variant of these SEPS to watch out for are those who may take a disliking for a person and are negative to all that they may do - finding fault in every task.  Best avoided at all costs.

6.  Killer of Dreams SEPS

For me, one of the most hurtful of SEPS.  Dreams are what give us hope, they allow us the opportunity to see what might be, and to imagine a better place.  Dreams are beautiful vessels that motivate us to work hard, see alternatives and explore options.  The Killer of Dreams SEPS takes the dreams of a person and crushes them underneath a torrent of scorn and derision.  They suck the hope and future of possibilities right out of someone.  Remember, these SEPS are sad, dysfunctional individuals that require your pity.  Never allow this SEPS to ruin your dreams.

I am sure you can think of other SEPS types whose toxicity and mere presence can undermine your self esteem and crumble your confidence.   They have traits and commonalities to watch out for.

source: Rawforbeauty

  • The more they get away with their abhorrent behaviour the more they will continue to victimise others. 
  • Often, these people can not see how their behaviour impacts on others, or that their behaviour is wrong.  For many, they have their own demons and self esteem issues they are battling - building up their self esteem by trampling another is how they feed their own self worth. 
  • These people are bullies, and they are masking their own inadequacies by acting this way.

Our best armour against these SEPS is to disempower them by not allowing them to take our self esteem.  Be resilient.  Bounce forward and refuse to accept knock backs as knock downs, but instead see them as mere bumps in the journey.

Self belief and self confidence is yours - a SEPS can not take it without you giving them permission.   How you give them that permission is by buying into their trickery and tactics.  If you fall for what they do and say, and believe it, then they have succeeded.  We are smarter and stronger than that.  Take control of your life, your situation and your mental disposition.  Rewrite your mental mantras.  They (I do wonder who this magical 'they' is sometimes) say that we are what we think.    So, think positive.

Finally, remember this - you are the master of your own destiny.  Keep positive, retain your self confidence (heck when in doubt, fake it), and remember - these sad little individuals are really pretty disturbed and suffer major self esteem deficiencies.

Lets not allow anyone the opportunity to suck out our self esteem anymore!  Instead, let our self worth, belief and confidence suck the negativity right out of them, shinning like a beacon for all to see and aspire to.

NB:  Sometimes, when our self esteem and emotional reserves are low and we feel the world has battered us to submission, we find it hard to see the difference between what is reality and what is the perceived reality.  It is a trap that many of us have fallen into, so I would caution that when you feel you may be facing a SEPS, take a reality perception test.  Either ask a trusted friend/colleague to look at the situation from an impartial view, or put a virtual perception lens over what you see.  Think about what others would see if they were looking in, is it justified, unjustified or are you perhaps being a little sensitive and perhaps not seeing all points of view.   Our judgement is easily clouded when our own self worth is low.  Invest in some time to check for balance.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Clean Eating Pancakes - Divine, Healthy and Fail Safe

I love pancakes.  

I love pancakes with bacon, maple syrup, cream and chopped up bananas.  I'll even splurge to a few blueberries scattered (mostly for show) when feeling a little on the 'adventurous' side.

The problem with the pancakes I love and that I love to eat, is that they are a 'rare sometimes' treat - a frivolous and unhealthy breakfast that I should avoid.  So these days, I rarely indulge, and if I do, its a treat, and because I am out somewhere for breakfast.

It doesn't stop me from liking them.  I am trying these days to look after my immune system - to eat (and I confess I fall off the clean eating wagon all the time, but I am good at brushing myself off and getting back on so that these days I fall off less and less) with less sugar and 'naughty' fats.   I woke up the other day with a hankering for pancakes.  I confess the hankering started the day prior, after googling things to do with greek yoghurt (I had an over abundance of it) and stumbling on many references for using it to make pancakes.

So, after trolling through a number of recipes - here is my take on it.  Despite an effort to clean up my diet, I still have a sweet tooth, so I have to confess its not as 'clean' as it could be - so if you are a purest in terms of clean eating - take out the honey, and add a flour alternative (wholewheat for a starters), and only use egg whites.

WARNING:  These will make the most divine fluffy pancakes that are virtually no fail.  A huge bonus is that these pancakes are high in nutrients and protein!

Clean Eating Pancakes


  1. 1 tsp of baking soda (if you double the recipe only add a smidgeon more baking soda)
  2. 1/2 cup of four 
  3. 1 egg
  4. Yoghurt and egg (splash of honey)
  5. 1/2 cup of greek low fat yoghurt 

My added extras:

I add the following two ingredients to my pancake mix for taste but these are optionals.  

  1. Cinnamon (to taste - about 1/2 for me but you may like more or less)
  2. Good splash of liquid honey (maple syrup would also suffice)

Whisk the yoghurt and egg together (at this point I add my honey), add the dry ingredients - including the cinnamon if you are adding this (shift first to ensure no lumpy bits) and mix.  It will be a very thick mixture - this is normal.   

The mixture can be a bit thick - this is normal 
Pre heat your pan/skillet, and spray with nonstick spray.  Drop spoonfuls onto your hot frying pan/skillet.  Turn after several minutes - you can see the mixture 'fluff up' - don't leave them on to long or they will over brown.  They should be a golden brown.  

Serve with a drizzle of honey/maple syrup/golden syrup...some fruit (I prefer blueberries and bananas but whatever is in season is fine), and a few dollops of greek yoghurt.  (you can sweeten up the yoghurt with any of the syrups if your sweet tooth finds the tartness of the yoghurt too much).

Add a mashed banana to your mixture prior to putting onto the pan/skillet.  Alternatively you can place some blueberries/bananas on the mixture when you first place them on the pan/skillet.  If you MUST have bacon - I would suggest some turkey or chicken bacon - its just as tasty and with way fewer calories and better for you.  What I have discovered is there is always an alternative and eating healthy does not mean forgoing the good things in life.

NB: these work out at around 91 calories per pancake, but they are high in protein, taste divine and fill you up, giving you plenty of energy for a weekend of activity - or not as the case may be.

YUMMMM - a drizzle of syrup, splash of greek yoghurt and a sprinkle of blueberries 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I Wish For

What I wish for, that would make my job easier:

  • That the ‘freedom’ to explore the beauty of our national curriculum was in fact a real ‘freedom’, not one watered down by mandates that essentially spoil the intent and purpose of our world class curriculum.
  • That Politicians would spend a week on my classrooms, teaching and reflecting on what impact their decisions will have on our students.
  • That educational decisions and policy were based on evidence and research, and that the profession had been consulted on and assisted in formulating. 
  • That our society understood the importance of the first 3 years of a child’s life on brain development, and that this is the most formative time of anyone’s life.  The experiences you have in those first 3 years shape who you will ultimately become in life.  In essence, it’s your hardwiring for life. 
  • That society understood the impact of trauma and abuse on a child’s brain, and that punishing ‘naughty’ students from ‘Once Were Warriors’ backgrounds is counter intuitive and the first priority is to teach these students.  Instead, help them overcome the damage sustained.  Punishment is not the answer. 
  • That the students I am constantly advocating for stop being let down by the system, and that a more holistic and resourced approached to supporting these students were put in place and sustained.  This could be an entire post several times over!
  • That we invested in early intervention programmes for at risk families and students from the start, and understood that the investment in intervention would substantially save many millions in the justice system.  This would require a long term vision and while our politicians focus on a 3 year term this is unlikely to occur.  Vision takes commitment and ethical care, in this model.
  • That society quit ‘punishing’ at risk students and instead invest in these children, supporting and teaching them to be worthy productive members of society.  I wish society would not ‘write them off’.  It might take A LOT of time and many years, but the investment is worth it.
  • That our profession was held in high esteem and that those who head into an election stop using it as a political football and vehicle for mass hysteria in order to scare the public into voting for them. 
  • That I had the tools and resources to implement the interventions required to make my vision for students – that they have the skills, dispositions and tools to be successful today for the world of tomorrow – become a reality. 
  • That we were all on the same page, a united team, with the interests of the child always at the heart of everything.  

In essence – I wish success for all students.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Runaway Gingerbread People

Today we had a bit of fun at school that went viral.  Considering the time of year and how hectic everyone is as we slide down towards Christmas and the summer holidays, it is always a real pick me up when something happens to cause a buzz around the place.

Today was the day the Gingerbread People ran away.  They jumped out of the oven, avoiding all hungry mouths wishing to devour them, and the excited anticipation of a group of 5 year olds, and they escaped. If the rumour is to be believed, the little rascals escaped to the beach for some sunbathing, and to avoid being eaten!!!

At least, thats what the students believed!

It was a clever little trick - the teacher concerned decided to make Gingerbread People with her class of 5 year olds.  There was lots of maths as they measured ingredients and counted raisins, and there was a lot of talking and wondering.

The wondering they decided to pursue was, 'would the Gingerbread People come to life if they used more baking powder than the recipe called for?'

They decided they should experiment - if they put 4 teaspoons of baking power (the recipe requires 1/2 a tsp) into the mix, would the Gingerbread People come to life?  Many didn't think so but they were open to try - after all, no self respecting 5 year old would poo poo an idea without first trying.

So, they mixed up their batter, cut out their people, placed them on trays and popped them in the staffroom oven.   Then they went back to class to wait for them to cook.

In the meantime, the teacher concerned had asked our receptionist to bring them out, cool them down and hide them, so she could trick them.  It worked a treat.

A cacophony of noise came streaming out of the staffroom.  The excitement was infectious.  Of course, I had to go and investigate.  Picture a group of 5 year olds jumping up and down, hunting for clues, cross examining everyone who came into the room - 'have you seen our Gingerbread People, they have run away!!!', 'are they in your belly?', 'where do you think they went?'.  Many assumed I had eaten them!

Playing along, I plastered the look of disbelief on my face and exclaimed -

'It worked - your experiment worked, and now they have run away...'.

It was fun.  The students spent the next 20 minutes running around the school trying to find them, looking for clues and getting very excited when they found a stray crumb.  Theories about their disappearance rivalled any good mystery story.  Some students were a bit scared of all these mini Gingerbread People running around, and others were disappointed they had run off before the taste session!

The class headed back to their room to write letters and stories based on what had happened.   In the meantime, I whipped up the email and photo below and sent it to the teacher.   This gave the students even more to discuss and write about.  The buzz in their room was electric!

Eventually, the students went and had a look in the schools mailbox, and discovered the missing Gingerbread had returned.  Whew.

Now, I started saying it created a buzz that spread throughout the school.  During lunchtime, kids of all ages were sucked into the 'trick'.  Most of the lunch period was spent with students all hunting for the missing Gingerbread People, with quite the discussions on if they were real and where might they have gone.  What stunned me was how our oldest students thought it was real.  

When the class 'found' them, the noise and the cheers could be heard in space.  Even our senior students popped out of classrooms to give a round of applause and a big cheer. 

So dear reader, it doesn't take too much effort to make a little person believe in magic, or to create a team buzz.  The fact it went viral was just awesome to watch.  That one small learning activity resulted in an excitement and sense of fun that was shared by staff and students.  Bring back fun to learning I say.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Robbie Williams 'Go Gentle' - Welcome Back Mate!

I was trolling through i-Tunes, checking out new songs in the 'Songs to Watch' category (incidentally, I always find brilliant pieces of music here, much of which never seems to make it to mainstream raido waves so I highly recommend you checking it out regularly for new sounds).  Lo and behold, there was a new song by Robbie Williams.


Loved it.

Bought it.

Now, I loved it because it is a classic piece of Robbie 'swing'.  He really does excel at this type of music.  Its catchy, its upbeat and yet, at the same time, its melancholy.  I gave me that nice warm fuzzy feeling you get when you listen to great songs, and I could picture myself playing it loud in the car and singing along top throttle.  That is one of my yardsticks - if I can see myself playing it, singing it, and loving it for longer than a few minutes, I will purchase it.

So, have a listen, see what you think.   I for one, am grateful he has returned with something I like.  Welcome back mate!

"For all your days and nights
I'm gonna be there
I'm gonna be there yes I will
Go gentle through your life
If you want me I'll be there
When you need me I'll be there for you"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Takapuna Beach

In Auckland we are spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches.  There are so many wonderful beaches - from the rough and wild, surfer paradise, family friendly swimming and - rumour tells me - there many even be a nudie beach or two.

If you look closely you can see the Pohutakawa
starting to flower... A sign Christmas is coming 
Walking down to the beach - such a
stunning day 
Looking out to Rangitoto

There are over 100 beaches accessible from the Auckland CBD - and that does not count those that are a longer drive.  I appreciate that Auckland's called the City of Sails but it could just as easily be the City of Beaches.

Exploring Rock Pools 
Today we went for a walk on Takapuna Beach.  It is one of the more popular beaches on the North Shore, a fabulous spot for families and swimming, but not one we tend to visit often.  So today, to be different, we thought we would go and explore.

On days like today, you can get a great view of Rangitoto Island and many of the other islands out on the Hauraki Gulf.  We noticed many sailors taking advantage of the great conditions.  It would have been magic out on the water today.

It is such a long wide expanse of a beach, that its a lovely way to clear out the muddle in our minds, and lift off the stresses of the day - or in our case, the week.

I really enjoyed our walk on the beach - Squirt had a fabulous time collecting shells, writing in the sand and paddling in the water.  It has been such a full on week for us all, that it was a pure pleasure to chill and blow out the cobwebs.

Of particular note was the fact that it was cloudy and overcast, but hot and humid.  The clouds were gorgeous - shame my photos don't do them justice.  You can see the sky is desperate to unleash the rain in the clouds, but still - they wait.  The threaten of rain was just that - a threat.

 We are all looking forward to exploring more of Auckland's spectacular beaches during the summer period - so watch this space as I show you more of why this city is just so amazing - and all on our doorstep (this beach is 12 minutes from home).

One of the cool things about exploring the beach and rock formations is that if you
take a close up you could be mistaken to think it was some grand canyon somewhere
when in fact, its just a close up of the rocks!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Auckland Sunsets

Sunsets - Soothers of the Soul 

I love sunsets.  They are like the ice cream topping of the day.  This year Auckland has been resplendent in stunning sunsets.  

There is something about them that soothes a soul, especially after a hard day.  It is like an apology from the Universe for any grief the day may have bought, and a chance to stop and appreciate the beauty of the world we live in.  

Its been a long week which has had days where at times it has felt like several days have been attempting to squash into one.  I have not had time this week to stop and look at the beauty of each days sunsets.

So I have decided to post a collection of sunsets I have captured this year for all of us to stop, look at and to reflect upon.  Sometimes we are too busy to take the time to appreciate the beauty of the Universe.  I know I needed a reminder of the beauty and a soother for my soul.




Monday, November 11, 2013

Roast Busters and the Place of Educators...

Since the news of the Roast Busters broke over a week ago, some people are asking about the part that Education and a School might play in a situation like this.

Earlier this week I heard the Secondary Principals Association President on Breakfast TV basically say it was something a school could do little about, particularly because it was after hours, in the weekend, where the school had no jurisdiction over what young people got up to.  Then, later in the week, I heard questions being asked about whether this needed to be addressed via government policy.

As a result, I've been thinking about this.  How can one not, its not only all over the media, but its being talked about by everyone.  I have blogged about it before the-despicable disgusting dregs of humanity, so I won't go over the same ground, but as an educator, I have been wondering about what I might do if this crossed my path.

I am confident any Principal who has had any of these children in their schools - victims or perpetrators, would have had a rough week.  Particularly if staff had known about it but not passed the concerns on to management.  I expect they will be feeling a similar pressure, much as the police have,  around not being seen to be doing something about it at the time.

I am not in the Secondary sector - so I am not completely sure what resources they have at their disposal, but I do know they have counsellors and some form of sexual education programme - and that would be a good start.  I also know there are great resources that schools can tap into - so I am confident that doing something was never going to be that hard.

So, what would I have investigated, had it crossed my desk.

Establish the Mandate:  Job One. 

I acknowledge that schools do not have jurisdiction over what happens in the weekend - but, if you hear about an incident that is going to have a negative impact on a student, then that is a means for intervention.  Right there you have the mandate to investigate further, and if the incident that occurred in the weekend results in further bullying and humiliation on school grounds - then the professionally and morally expedient thing to do is to investigate and sort it out.

The fact students were posting negative things on Facebook, and harassing students via social media, automatically is worthy of some kind of intervention.  Not only does it bring harm to students - and schools are tasked with protecting the social and emotional well being of students, but it also brings the school into disrepute.  There is a mandate.

What these boys did was appalling - and to plaster it all over social media was further humiliation and degradation for the victims.  This will have had a terrible impact on those students.  I consider this as one of the most severe forms of bullying there is.  There is no place for this in a school.  As a result I would have put an action plan in place.

Specific Actions Worthy of Consideration: 

I would have contacted all the parents involved, and called a meeting.   Communication is important, and talking with family/whanau a key part in establishing where to next. 

I would have talked to the trauma specialists at the Ministry - they have a team and people trained in dealing with significant issues.  Seeking external advice seems prudent and professionally responsible.   

I appreciate some schools would be concerned about the incident bringing bad publicity - but this too can be carefully planned for and managed.  What's important here is acting quickly and with the best interests of students at the forefront.

Along with talking with parents regarding next steps, I would be in touch with the police for guidance, advice, and to make sure they are aware of the issues.  They also have specialist workers who I would expect would take some form of action - even if only from the stand point of educating students on what is ok and what is not.  I have always found the local community constable and police educator teams to be invaluable.  They have resources and resource people that can be tapped into. 

Working with my staff and any appropriate professionals (perhaps other schools where the issue involves students from other schools - which I understand is the case here), I would ensure a comprehensive sex ed/ethics/information series of workshops was planned and ready to put in place.  

One of my biggest concerns in this case are the  female students who claimed it was 'normal teenage behaviour'.  It's not normal.  It was rape, control and degradation of young girls.  In no way is that normal - to even think that raises huge concerns.  Schools can play a part in educating these girls on how to be safe, and how their friends can keep them safe.  I repeat - it is not normal and it is most definitely NOT ok.  

I'd make sure we had good therapeutic support and counselling for the victims - and something that addressed the lack of moral compass the boys displayed.  

I would want to address the issue of low self esteem, and the group mentality of 'it's none of my business - she'll be right', so these kids understood how serious it is and to be an idle bystander is just as culpable.  

I, along with my team, would work closely with the police and I wouldn't let it drop.  From talking to parents and the students, to assisting with laying charges - there are things the school and police can do together when they work as a team.  Sometimes you have to be a squeaky wheel in order to address issues.  I'd consider this to be a 'squeaky wheel' moment. 

One of my calls would be to Child, Youth and Family.  These young girls are young, vulnerable and most definitely at risk.  As a parent, I am really struggling with those parents that have told police to 'let it drop' because their daughter doesn't want to talk about it.  I'm sorry, but you are the parent, so parent!  

CYPS intervention would be to ensure there were no child protection and safety issues at play here.  These were young, underage, unsupervised children out getting drunk and into serious situations, including group sex and rape.  There needs to be some questions asked and some deeper probing into why these children were out alone and unsupervised.  They would not be easy questions, but they would need to be asked.  Too often we don't make the hard calls to ensure the safety of children.  Educators are advocates for children - and this would be one of those times I would expect educators to advocate.

Finally, the young 'men' need dealt with.  This kind of behavior is depraved and most definitely normal.  They need help - specialized help.  What concerns me about these young 'men' is where this might lead.  Is this the tip of the proverbial sexual deviancy ice berg?

Is this the sexual delinquents equivalence of mass murderers who start out by hurting animals?   Fast forward into the future and imagine these 'men' are in their late 20s.  What do they do to get their 'kicks' then?  Kidnapp some unsuspecting victim, and graduate to 'rape' drugs?   I don't pretend to be an expert in this area but it does raise some questions.

Is the picture of the future I paint a bit harsh?  I don't think so.  These two roast buster ringleaders, Parker and Hales, have already proven they are depraved, amoral, and on a major ego trip.  That, in my opinion, requires significant intervention and help - and I would be looking to find support and resources where I could.  Punishment sure, the victims need retribution, but figuring out what on earth is behind this kind of depraved mentality (particularly when others think it is 'normal') is critical so that we don't see repeats of this kind of situation.    

So in summary, I don't buy the comment that there is nothing that can be done.  There is always something educators can do.  Schools are a good start, because at the end of the day, we are the at the chalk face - it's where the young people are and to all intents and purposes, they are a captive audience.  Does it require policy - I don't believe so, but it does require strong professional leadership and an un waivering belief that we can make a difference.  Lets start by addressing this head on, challenging the assumptions and reprogramming what is beginning to look like a far more ingrained culture than any of us would have thought.  This is a modern world we live in - there is no place for this kind of behaviour in an enlightened and equal society.  Time to step up.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Drug Selling Dairies

I am somewhat gobsmacked.

Several articles in todays news have me really questioning the sanity of some people.  The things people will do to make a buck just defy logic sometimes.

The Government passed a law that restricted the selling of psychoactive drugs, called the Psychoactive Substances Act.  The new Act made it illegal to sell 'herbal highs' in places like dairies, supermarkets and liquor outlets.  As a result, they needed to transform themselves into an R18 store and apply to the Ministry of Health for a license to sell the drugs.

As you can imagine, this was not popular with some dairy owners who were making quite a big profit from selling the 'herbal highs'.  According to all reports, dairies were raking in the money, and were less concerned about the harm to the people they were selling to and more interested in how easy the money was.  They were, in effect, legalised drug pedlars.

Todays 'hot off the press' news reveals dairies are resorting to the following methods in order to continue trading and creaming a profit off the community, exploiting the frailties of humanity.

1. Hiding it in the bottom of lolly packets.  To be honest, this is what has me gobsmacked.  Are they really that desperate to make a few bucks they will cheat the law by putting it into lolly packets.  While I appreciate the ingenuity of the concept, I despise the intent.

2. Home deliveries - some owners are packing up the delivery van and making home deliveries.  What do they say on the phone?  "Would you like a side order of mind altering drugs with your milk and bread?"

3. Others are setting up R18 stores in converted dairies in order to sell the drugs.  Im surprised that there isn't any money in milk and bread - have you had to buy either from a dairy lately?  Hardly a bargain.  

I wish I could say that I was surprised that dairy owners would resort to such tactics to side step the law in order to prey on young people seeking a 'high'.   Where are the moral compasses in these people?  Why do they not care about the communities they are fleecing?  How would they feel if one of their young family members got caught up in the harms of synthetic cannabis?  Some of the reports in the media have highlighted the dangers.  It is not pretty and it is devastating for families.  Shame on them.

Human nature saddens me sometimes.  The lack of empathy for others, merely because money making overrides ones moral fortitude, just astounds me.

dairies hide drugs in lolly packets


selling of synthetic highs banned

NB: A dairy is akin to a small corner store, and generally sells convenience items like bread and milk.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Educationally Bizarre News of the Week...

I stumbled upon this news article this evening when I was searching for something quite unrelated.  The headline caught my attention - and as with most things that relate to schools, I had to take a peek.

'School shut due to overwhelming smell of Axe body spray'

Initially I misread the headline, and thought it said 'school shut down due to overwhelming smell of an axe'.  Naturally, my imagination went into overdrive.  Axe?  Was there an axe wielding maniac running riot through the corridors of some unsuspecting school, and if so, surely this would have been making headlines all over the world?

It is amazing what you can conjure up in your imagination in only a few short seconds of misunderstanding.

I re read the headline.  It really didn't clear all that much up - although I was relieved that there was indeed no axe wielding maniac on the loose.  I then noticed the picture attached to the article and surmised that Axe body spray is indeed most likely to be a US equivalent to our lynx body spray.  That stuff does stink, I grant you that!

I did wonder how on earth body spray could possibly be responsible for shutting a school down.  Maybe if they had used lighters to set fire to the spray as they held the nozzle down, replicating a flame thrower, and the school building had been burnt to the ground, then that I could understand.  But simply spraying a few cans of smelly boys underarm around seemed a bit far fetched.

I appreciate that it can be overpowering and a little full on, but to render a school to a point of shut down seems a bit over the top.   I will concede that these cans of spray do have the unfortunate side effect of making one gag.  I have certainly told off enough students over the years for 'stinking' out the cloakrooms.  I have however, never called in the emergency services to deal with an over zealous spraying incident.

Still, to shut a school down, and have the emergency services called in because of a 'hazardous smell' seems a little bit of an over reaction.   Its body spray, not a chemical spill!  Furthermore, 8 students were transported to hospital and 2 others were taken to see doctors by their parents!  I cant decide if I should roll my eyes or stifle a giggle.   I repeat, its body spray.

Here in NZ we have a fairly simple and cheap solution to the problem.

We open the doors and windows until the offending smell dissipates.

Perhaps we should run workshops overseas.  You can't beat simple kiwi ingenuity, and common sense now can you?

You can read the article here! body spray shuts school down

Oh - as an aside- its not the first time body spray has resulted in the emergency services being called in. There are two other small articles at the bottom of the main article.  Who would have known....

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Despicable Disgusting Dregs of Humanity Award

My thoughts on the Roast Busters

In case you have been living under a rock in the middle of nowhere with no access to any form of technology or media at all, Roast Busters is a group of young men (and I use the term men very very loosely) who claim to have filmed themselves having underage sex with very drunk young woman, then publicly naming and shaming them on Facebook.  

It is all over the media here in NZ, and from what I could see on Breakfast TV this morning, its disgusting communities the world over.  Its so outrageous that when I initially heard about it, I had to shake myself to believe it was actually real, and that it was happening here in NZ.  It has left me with a number of wonderings...

My Wonderings:

The police have known about it for over 2 years.   

I wonder why it's taken the media so long to find out.  It's such an appalling thing to have on a social media site that it surprises me that no ones spilled the beans sooner.   

I wonder why we as a society tolerate such appalling bullying processes on social media.  Take - which is another disgusting bullying tool. is a social networking site where anonymous users ask anonymous personal questions and get anonymous answers.   How could that possibly go wrong in the hands of a young person...yes...that was tinged with sarcasm.  

The site has led to a number of young people committing suicide after months of bullying.  Yet, it still operates, and plenty of young people are subscribed to it.  I wonder, do parents even know what this site is, let alone what harm it can cause?  I suspect not.  The Roast Busters site is no different, and I hear today that there are copy cat Facebook pages being set up by other young 'men'.  

I wonder, what happened to us?  How do we blindly go about our business each day, oblivious to the antics of our youth, and indifferent to the harm these sites are causing. 

The police say they can't do anything about these boys bragging about taking advantage of drunk underage girls because none of the girls have come forward... Hmmm.  

I wonder, and correct me if I am wrong, but is it not illegal to have sex with an underage minor?  And, does bragging about it on social media and naming and shaming the girls involved not amount to a confession?  Is this not evidence?  I find this of great concern...

I wonder what is happening in the minds of the young woman who quickly came to the rescue of the boys behaviour and called it 'normal teen antics'?  I have to say that the fact these young woman think what the boys have done is 'normal' is just appalling.  I wonder, where are their parents and what do they think?  

I wonder, what kind of young woman thinks this is 'normal West Auckland' behaviour?  How do our young woman even get that impression, and I wonder what is missing in our society for them to think group sex is a typical thing you do?  I am almost lost for words.  (read more and watch what these girls think as they defend the boys at the heart of this scandal) Roast-Busters-actions-defended

It defies logic to me that this kind of behaviour exists and I wonder what the parents of all these young 'men' think of the actions of their sons.  I would be disgusted, and I would be deeply ashamed.  Recent revelations that one of them is the son of a police man and the other a high profile entertainer seems to be like rubbing salt into the psychological wounds of these young girls. 

 I wonder why (as I am sure their own parents are right now also wondering) they didn't know better.  The arrogance of them, to think their actions were normal, sane and those of a real man.  I wonder if they realise the harm they have caused and that what they did was rape.  

This will be an unpopular wondering, but I am pretty confident it is a wondering shared by many around the world.  I wonder why those young underage girls, some barely in their teens, were out and about unsupervised, and very very drunk.  They are still children.  I am trying hard to not judge - kids find themselves in messy situations all the time - and I am hopeful that the parents thought their daughters were safe.  I appreciate that this may be naive but I remain hopeful.  To believe otherwise would be too alarming and raise the question of child protection and safety to the forefront.  

 I wonder why the police did not act on the young 13 year old that went to them with her parents to lay a complaint of rape 2 years ago.  It is all very well to say they will now 'relook' at it now - but it seems a little too late, and I wonder if the media attention this issue has, is now the catalyst.

I am a Mum.   I wonder what I would do if something this disgusting and despicable happened to my girl.  I don't want my daughter or any other parents daughter to ever have to experience this loss of innocence and disgusting violation.  As far as I am concerned, these boys knew full well the girls were drunk, underage and they took advantage.  I despise their behaviour, and I am ashamed that there are young 'men' in our country like them.  They make a mockery of all the hard working, fabulous kiwi men in our country.  They do not deserve the label 'men'.

Finally, I wonder if the young woman who were named and shamed are ok.  I worry for them, both now and in the future.  My heart aches for the hurt, humiliation and loss they have suffered.

And so, the 'Despicable, Disgusting Dregs of Humanity Award' goes to the all those 'young men' who are involved with Roast Busters.  Watch out for Karma boys, she has one heck of a kick.


Pyrotechnic Time Again

It is the 5th of November and you can be guaranteed that kiwis all over the country will be out in force letting off a concoction of various pyrotechnic delights - aka fireworks.  I use the word 'delights' loosely and most definitely dependent on which side of the fireworks argument you sit.

I don't agree that every man, woman, and child should be allowed to buy any amount of fireworks once a year to let off to celebrate an outdated tradition.  One that dates back to a bygone age somewhere in history where some fella tried to blow up parliament in a country we don't even live in.   Whew.  That was a long sentence or two bordering on a rant.   I should elaborate.

Fireworks are dangerous.  They are the cause of many injuries, and fires which damage buildings and property all over the country.  It is a time of year dreaded by the fire departments across NZ.  The cost to our health care system and the cost to property is high.  I wonder if it is worth it.

Families that can least afford it spend mega amounts of money they don't have (yes that is a judgement call on my part - I admit it) to get a few minutes of pleasure from blowing stuff up.  It seems such a waste of money to me - its not even like they are that spectacular - poof, bang and blink, they are gone.

They are loud.  Not just a little loud but very loud.  It is noise pollution at its greatest and typically, I have noticed someone close will let off a whole tonne of them at the least appropriate moment - mainly when I am trying to listen to something else!  The inevitably wake up Squirt - at least now she is a bit older they don't scare her - but they do keep her awake.  That means a grumpy Squirt in the morning.  For that reason alone, we should ban them!

They scare cats and dogs.  Pets all around the country cower and flinch - and on occasion some of them are hurt, or worse, cruelly experimented on by psychopathic tormentors.

People stock pile them - so from the moment they go on sale, for at least two weeks afterwards, fireworks will be let off every night.  As a consequence, people will be driven crazy, making them wonder if their back yard will go up in flames from some stray explosive projectile.

But wait, theres more.  Then they will be let off again at Christmas and New Years to continue the torment.  Only it will be worse because the likelihood of the person letting them off being a little under the weather from too many 'lemonades' is higher.

It seems I am not the only 'fireworks grinch'.  If Facebook is any indication of things, a lot of people really don't like them.  There are more posts of people who are saying they are 'over' the suburban pyrotechnic displays than I can count.   I notice the local news reports this year are calling for banning the average person from buying them.  Aussie banned then a long time ago.   Maybe it is time to have a real public debate on this

Now, don't get me wrong.   I understand it has been a kiwi tradition since forever, and I recall many bonfires and firework displays as a child, all of which I loved at the time.   And, who doesn't love sparklers?  Fairly innocent things sparklers, for the most part, I would have thought.

However, there is nothing more satisfying that a really really good public fireworks display, where you get to see proper fireworks that fill the night with magic and beauty.   I am all for public displays that are accessible and open for everyone.

In the meantime, this 'fireworks grinch' will sit and watch the pretty fireworks being let off by all the neighbours.  I will be crossing my fingers in the hopes that a stray one doesn't land on our roof, or frighten our animals, and I will be content they have cost me nothing.

On the bright side (pun intended) -
tonight its raining heavily and mother nature is supplying her own display of fireworks.  This will at least keep the fire hazards down and dampen the enthusiasm of those setting the fireworks off.   Lets hope its a big fireworks fizzer!
Please NB:  These pictures were taken from the the public display at last years Christmas in the Park, and as a consequence, no backyards or family pets were harmed in the process!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Who You Are Makes A Difference...

I love this short vid from Ted Talks.  This is one I, and I am sure many teachers and principals, can relate to.

What Teachers Make:

I am in education because I really do believe that teachers make a difference.  For all the educators out there - thank you for what you do.  You are the makers of our future.


Incidentally, I love Ted Talks - even more so now it's an app on my iPhone.  I can access fabulous content for my own self development or just out of pure interest.  iphone Ted Talks link