Tuesday, February 23, 2016



Test blog

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

School Production - at Muritai = Ever Year!

With the potential shrinkage of the curriculum as a continued focus on literacy and numeracy skills drives the governments targets for achievement, we at Muritai hold the wide curriculum to our hearts. Term 3 is always a chance to let the creative juices flow and we have had  a whole raft of artistic opportunities that have seen our children perform in the the Pacifika Festival, the Artsplash singing, Artsplash visual art exhibition and Dancesplash performance. We finish off this week with our school production 'Tall Tales'  written and directed by teacher Raihania Chadwick and put together by the 'team' (staff). Our children have played a huge part in making this event the success it will be. It was wonderful to watch the dress rehearsal and see how the whole school community - children, teachers and parents - have come together in what will be the culmination of a really great learning experience for all concerned.

At Muritai - our drive to ensure that children grow in their key competencies - participating and contributing, managing themselves, relating to others, thinking and using the curriculum - means that the wide curriculum is vital to ensure the whole person develops, particularly in confidence and self-belief. As well as that it is great fun!!!!!

We are very proud of what our children have achieved this year in term 3 and it just shows that Muritai continues to evolve as a school. It is all part of our children being the best that they can be!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

School Days....

I really like the pace of Muritai School at the moment. A few years ago we were getting tied in knots trying to get so much done through the school day. We thought that the more we did, the more the children would be educated.

Not so.

We looked closely and found that if we did a bit less, and allowed our children some more time on things, the social skills that they could develop with more time produced better outcomes. They were still doing work, but achieving much more advanced work at a much higher quality.

A good example is our senior school. Have a look at the blog and see the first few weeks of 2014. Interesting things, with a bit of time to develop things and kids getting to know their new class buddies. Great stuff.

Click here to read the blog.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting enough sleep helps learning

Preparing for learning is a really important part of the learning cycle. Eating the right food, having a good attitude, having the right equipment, getting good exercise and being well rested all influence the learning experience for children and contributes heavily to whether they will experience successful outcomes. 

Boston College found NZ children to have the second highest number of sleep-deprived children, behind the United States.

The international comparison, carried out by Boston College, found the United States to have the highest number of sleep deprived students, with 73% of 9-10 year olds and 80% of 13-14 year olds identified by their teachers as being adversely affected.

"I think we underestimate the impact of sleep. Our data shows that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading. That is exactly what our data shows," says Chad Minnich, of the TIMMSS and PIRLS International Study Centre. 

The analysis wa spart of the huge data-gathering process for global education rankings - The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

Read the BBC summary article by clicking here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Te Pou

This is my speech from the pou ceremony today - Thursday 9 May.

Thank you all so much for coming to our ceremony today.

Welcome to our friends from Kokiri Marae

Welcome to our distinguished guests – Whanua Roopu

To our artists – Kirsten, Raihania, Hayden

To our Board of Trustees members and our parents of the school

To our children – who always remain at the centre of everything we do here at Muritai Kura.

It is so exciting to see the pou back in the ground. Nearly 12 years ago we started to create the pou. They were the dream and vision of a group of parents to enhance the strength of the culture of the tangata whenua in Aotearoa, the Maori people.

This group had to be strong and resolute in realising their dream. They had some opposition, not all parents in this community were supportive of the concept, but through courage, determination and resilience, hard work and a lot of fundraising they realised the dream.

What was so powerful once the pou arrived was how the children reacted to the opportunity working alongside the artist Phil Waddington.

I remember children spread in the hall, drawing together, coming up with designs for Phil to carve. Then the children all mosaicked a section and they were stuck onto the pou and concreted in. Some children loved the process worked through their lunchtimes helping Phil finish the project. It took a whole term to complete.

Sadly the mosaics have come off over time. The elements are rough out here by the sea and the tiling became brittle and they looked a little worse for wear. But the pou stood still, like a sentinel, guarding the children, watching everything we did and making us safe.

Recently we took them down, to give them a rest and breathe some new life back in and here they are.

We were able to reuse the tiles from the mosaics in the ground that now surround the pou.

A huge thanks to Kirsten, Hayden and Raihania for their hard work, dedication and aroha in reviving the pou.

So here they are, standing tall and making a difference to our school. See how strong they are. They are silent but powerful.

When I stand and look at them, I see real strength. They go deep into the ground and reach up to the sky. They stand between Ranganui and Papatuanuku. You can see them from the front, from the side, from the back.

Everyday you will work past them on your way to learn, or to play, to be with your friends, to have fun. Everyday the pou will stand, give strength to and represent the children and friends of Muritai School.

They are a treasure, something that we have at Muritai, that many, many other children across New Zealand don’t have.

We must always treat these pou with the dignity and respect that they deserve. We need to look after them, and they will look after us for many years to come.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Final speech to year 8 leavers of 2012

Ira Hayes, a Native American Indian once said – no one complains about a speech being too short…I don’t like complaints so I’ll do my best here

Thank you to all of you for coming tonight for our 2012 year 8 dinner.

Thank you to the Board of Trustees, represented here by Dave Griffiths, who give so much of their valuable time so generously through out the year. They do this quietly and with efficiency.

Thank you to the parents of our year 8 children who have stuck with and supported Muritai School, in many cases for many, many years. For most of you this is your last year at Muritai and I hope you feel a sense of pride in what your children have achieved here and that as a school community you feel a real sense of pride to be part of.

To our students - this is your evening. I am very proud of you. I am sure you mums, dads and family are very proud of you…I know your teachers are proud of you and this school is proud of you. You have been an impressive group of pupils, you are lovely people, each and every one of you, and all have something to offer our world.

Most of you have been here since 5 years old and each of you has offered something special to this school.

As you move onto your senior schools, think of all the things you have done here, whether it was the school productions, wearable arts, choirs, representing the school in team sport and even your everyday class work. All of these things are an important part of your education and a special part of growing up.

As your principal for the last 8 years I have really enjoyed this group…sometimes we have enjoyed you more than other times, but overall you have been excellent school leaders this year and set a strong school tone for our younger pupils to follow. Of course as you are still 12 and 13, at times you are just that 12 and 13 and that is OK. But this group does have a real ‘can do’ attitude so hold onto that spirit going forward. I do want to add that going forward may be tough but remember your core values, have integrity and always live by the golden rule – do unto others how you would expect them to treat you. Be kind and make a difference.

On your behalf I would like to thank staff of both the Main School and the Muritai Senior School staff who through their dedication and hard work have improved your results, outcomes and behaviour year after year and put so much effort into making your Muritai experience a positive one. To Stu, Lisa, Ruth and Melissa and their support team of Diane, Hillary, Romy and Abby and Ann – thank you for polishing the rough edges off these diamonds this year.

Prize giving is a strange occasion – a mixture of happy and sad emotions, but at its core it’s a time to acknowledge the many personal successes you have had over the years. It is also time to congratulate those who receive an award tonight. Not all of you will win a prize tonight. Don’t be disappointed. As far as the school, the other pupils, and your parents are concerned – each and every one is a success story.

In 2 days time you will be on your next journey. I would like to finish tonight with a piece from Robert J Hastings entitled The Station…it encapsulates the life advice that I would like to give you as you approach the next stage of education and beyond which we all hope will be a lifelong and successful journey.

Tucked away in our subconscious mind is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans continents. We’re travelling by train and out the windows we see the passing scene of cars on the motorway, cattle grazing in the field, rows of corn and wheat, flatlands and valleys, mountains and hillsides, city skylines and wave topped harbours…biting winter, blazing summer, cavorting spring and docile autumn.

Uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain hour on a certain day we will pull into the station. Once we get there…will there be bands playing, flags waving, will our dreams come true, will our wishes be fulfilled…… will the many pieces of our lives finally be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How we wait, restlessly for the station.

Sooner or later we will realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of our life is the journey. The station is only a dream that stays in the distance.

When we get to the station will that be it….

Translated this means…

When I get to 17 will that be it…I can drive and have my first car
When I get to university ….that will be it…
When I get my first flash car …that will be it

For us adults it means…
When our last child leaves home that will be it…
When I have paid off the mortgage…that will be it…
When I get to the top of my career…that will be it….
When I reach retirement…that will be it…

And only then will I live happily ever after!

Unfortunately, once we get ‘it’, then ‘it’ disappears. The station hides itself further at the end of an endless track.

SO be happy now and enjoy the moment…there are many more moments to come. As you go forward to the next station don’t pace the aisles and count the miles. Climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, wear bare feet, jump off the wharf, laugh more and cry less. Our lives must be enjoyed as we go along. The next station will come soon enough.

So as you move off to your high schools, throw yourself into the opportunities that are available to you enjoy the moment, the challenge and possibility but most importantly and above all, do your very best.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Bumnotes....Muritai School Band

Being principal of a school you get to see many amazing things done, created or performed by kids who in reality very young people. I refer to them as the magic moments and I believe that only teachers and parents get to see them as children are generally the ones that create them. The BumNotes are 4 kids (Gus, Rupert, Louie and Harry) from Muritai School who love music and each time they perform I marvel at the sheer talent of these very young kids. Aged just 11 and 12 we are all enjoying seeing them go from strength to strength in their own right and their frequent performances at our school assembly are extremely popular in Eastbourne! They are working on their own material, their own songs, and in term one they went into the recording studio and Gus's dad put together this film making Cyber Race their "first" music video.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Brain in Action

I am really enjoying learning about the current work around neuroscience. There is some stunning new research work about the brain, in particular around the notion of plasticity of the brain - the ability of the brain to regrow or change.

Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences. As we learn, we acquire new knowledge and skills through instruction or experience. In order to learn or memorize a fact or skill, there must be persistent functional changes in the brain that represent the new knowledge. The ability of the brain to change with learning is what is known as neuroplasticity.

A useful read around this is Norman Doidge's book called "The Brain that changes itself."

As an aside this is really cool video on Ted -ED channel. Greg Gage shows a group of children that by dissecting a cockroach ... yes, live on stage ... how brains receive and deliver electric impulses -- and how legs can respond.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Natural Standards v Budget announcements

We know that our children are all different. That is one of the great joys of being part of the school environment. We know that children grow at different rates and enjoy different things. They are not the same and they are not widgets. Mandarins and oranges while similar, are different.

Having said this we want them all our children to achieve well, in particular in the core skills of reading, writing and maths. The recent pre budget announcement indicates that to improve educational outcomes we must improve the quality of teaching. To do this the government aims to reduce the quantity of teaching to improve the quality of teaching. Clearly this is a financial decision, otherwise they would have left the teaching ratios the same (in particular our youngest children aged 6-7) and still invest in improving the quality of education.

We must focus on certainty. The facts for us next year at Muritai is that we will have less staff to work alongside our children. There is no certainty however about how the improvement of teacher quality will come about as there is no clear strategy for this. At the same time I question about how to improve the 14% student achievement at our tail. I keep looking for the answers and there is no one really sharing expertise about how to improve our highest need students........if anybody can point us in the right direction, please let us know. I do know that if we had extra funding for the first few three years we could make a real difference.

In the meantime have a look at this excellent you tube clip called Natural Standards. Created by Discovery School associate principal Simon Kenny it really sums up how it works - it is a partnership with teachers, children and families - not a one way relationship that means that teachers cause students to succeed.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Olympic rowing - high hopes for London

New Zealand has high hopes for our rowing team to succeed at this years Olympic Games in London. Going into the event we have world champions in 4 events and have qualified 11 boats for the Olympics (that means we currently have 11 different crews ranked in the top 10 in the world). This level of achievement in sport is unprecedented in our nation's history. We can all learn a lot from the Rowing New Zealand's cautious improvement and well planned progress in the last decade. They have let their performance do the talking, grouped a stunning collection of athletes, merged them into teams that have performed consistently well over the last few years. They seem to be getting stronger and stronger as time goes on.

In this 5 minute interview Eric Murray, a 4 time world champion and bow of the coxless pair, talks about progress leading up to the Olympic Games. He reinforces the simple, clear philosophy of a group of champions - hard work, honesty and practice, never resting on what you have achieved, because tomorrow you have to be better than the day before. There are so many messages here for the school environment and what is required to make school a special place for the children.

It also shows the beautiful training environment of Lake Karapiro, based near Cambridge, in all its glory.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Talented Children

Part of the joy of being involved in education is seeing children shine at school. In my time in education we come across many incredibly talented children and although all kids have a sparkle in something the school often doesn't cover in our curriculum. Margo showed recently what a gifted writer she is with her entry that won the inaugural Eastbourne RSA essay competition. A tremendous achievement and an outstanding effort from a 12 year old.

Click here to read her essay.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Public funding of private schools

I do enjoy the holiday break as it gives me a good chance to catch up on the politics of education, in particular reading around the many trends and patterns emerging available on the world wide web. There is always regular dialogue on National Radio and last week on Kathryn Ryan's Nine to Noon show there was interesting discussion around the pressure that private schools are under to maintain conditions of learning while holding the fees down so that New Zealanders can afford them. Particular emphasis was given to the $800,000 grant to Wanganui Collegiate while it goes through the integration process from being a private school to an integrated school. 

As a state school principal who sits at the knife edge of decision-making around just the basics of what we can or can't have for the children of our community I find this handout to Collegiate unacceptable, particularly in the context of my last post on special needs funding. The discussions clarifies many myths around the private and state education divide.

The discussion involves - Deborah James, executive director of Independent Schools of New Zealand; Deborah Russell, Massey University taxation lecturer; and Robin Duff, president of the Post Primary Teachers' Association. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Special Needs funding in the media

I really appreciated this well written comment on special needs education funding from Paul Drummond, president of the NZ Principals' Federation.  Paul has given approval for to share his article.

This week the media highlighted the plight of special needs children and their right to attend their local school. For the record I fully support the right of all children to attend their local school and believe it is our job to provide a quality education for every child that is best suited to their needs and capabilities. Inclusion and diversity are values I believe we should all support. That said I also recognise that schools need a level of resource that matches childrens requirements, parental expectations and our own high standards. This is where the dilemma arises. Principals want to accept high needs students, but do not receive the necessary resources to provide the educational experience and the safe environment that these children richly deserve.

ORRS funding goes some way to providing critical support for children with highest need, but it will not have escaped your notice that the threshold for receiving ORRS funding has seemingly lifted. The verification system still produces inconsistences about who is funded from one year to the next and the moderated support funding often doesnt cover what is required for high needs children to access the full curriculum. Decreasing support assumes that because the child is a year older they no longer need it! The challenge for us is to find the same level of funding or support from somewhere else. That can be our S.E.G. or creative use of staffing, parents, peers or arrangements with other schools. Unfortunately that somewhere else doesnt exist for all of us and inevitably compromises the rights of other students to access the curriculum. 

For some, the dilemma has been answered by suggesting that parents enroll their child at an alternative school which is better resourced or has specialist teachers in the particular area of disability. For others the answer is to accept the child and acknowledge that there will be limitations to the educational experiences from which the child could derive benefit. This might include, for example, excluding the child from school activity when there is no teacher aid support for toileting, a field trip or camp. As principals we must manage this complexity with professionalism and integrity.

Principals and teachers are constantly calling on their own resourcefulness and creativity to accommodate their special needs children who bring a diversity and richness to our school communities. These children add value to our schools. They help all of our children to develop a sense of empathy, of tolerance and accepting difference as normal. These are qualities which will ultimately create a more compassionate and civilised New Zealand a nation to be proud of. 

When policy was introduced to deinstitutionalise and move to the mainstream, there was an expectation that all the resources would be transferred to the mainstreaming effort. It is time now to remind policy makers that our special children deserve their rightful share and if attending your local school is a right then it has to be protected and honoured with full resourcing.

It is timely to examine systems that achieve better than we do in the education of special needs children. One such system is Finland. Click here to read a review of a recent publication on the Finnish system and what can be learned.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stopping the summer reading slide

A frustrating existence in education is the slide in achievement when children are not at school, in particular the period between the end of the year and the beginning of the year - December to February. Although we often think that the occasional day is OK, a week off or more has a detrimental effect on children's progress.  Classrooms do have learning rhythms. Often teachers cluster learning around a phase of time - such as a week, fortnight or a month, and if kids miss 3 days or so then they can struggle to catch up with the learning task and most definitely being part of the momentum of learning. The summer holiday break has a huge impact on progress.

Evidence of this can be found in this fascinating article on National Radio as Kathryn Ryan interviews Professor Tom Nicholson on a project that proved that daily reading over the summer break could progress children's reading scores, while the control group saw some children drop their reading ages by 6 months. Kids need to read daily, not just to maintain their progress, but to just be a part of the magical world of stories or knowledge.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Parents donate $250 million annually to state schools

I found this article long overdue. It was on STUFF in the weekend and really presents more questions than provides answers. It also goes hand in hand with my previous post about how NZ operates a super efficient education system based on government investment in education relative to our very high student performance. This is presented through an OECD/PISA report showing how much our government spent (considerably less) in comparison to our main reference nations - US, UK and Australia.

The article discusses the cost of technology in schools which is expensive to maintain and sustain continuity and yet schools receive very little financial support in this regard. It would be safe to say that it is the schools, and their Boards of Trustees who have modernized schools through providing technology for 21st century learning, while countries such as Australia, US and Canada lead the way in investing technology into schools for better learning. It is the parents fundraising that provides the necessary funds in NZ!

Schools run along a  knife edge about how much they can charge for a donation. Too much and you get a backlash, too little you can't make a tangible difference. When the minister says 'parents have always - and will always - need to pick up some cost'....it doesn't really fall within the Education Act. In reality though these questions fall back onto the Board of Trustees to choose between 3 very expensive categories which fall outside the operational grant given to schools by the Ministry of Education to meet operational costs. They have to choose between -

  1. Additional teachers to improve or enhance learning opportunities for children.
  2. Top up funding for students with special needs or learning who are between 30%-50% underfunded 9or receive no funding)
  3. Technology - keeping up with the new and replacing the old technology.
It is not easy being on the Board - they often have to make harsh calls, often feeling hamstrung about meeting their vision and goals within the funds that are available.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Value for Money....... NZ is one of the best!

The latest Pisa report looks at how a countries educational system performs against how much that country invests. Not surprisingly and as usual NZ comes out as one of the top performers. The report shows that it is vital that a country uses its educational resources well as opposed to just throwing money at the system.

You can read the 4 page report here.

In terms of investing in its children NZ sits alongside countries such as Estonia, Greece, Israel, Hungary and Thailand. Countries which we are now tending to follow in terms of policy, the US, Australia and UK, spends considerably more per student than NZ. Yet we comfortably outperform them with our current system.

NZ spends around $43,000 per student across the years between 6-15 which equates to an annual spend of $4,300 US per child per year. In comparison the US spends $10,800 per student, the UK $8,500 per student and Australia $7,200. Our closest neighbours Australia  are funding per pupil 60% more than NZ.

The report shows that, among high-income economies, the amount spent on education is less important than how those resources are used, in particular getting the right people to work with children and investing in them heavily. Worrying for NZ classrooms is the PISA statement that small class sizes does not influence achievement outcomes - recently presented by Treasury. While I would acknowledge that the evidence seems to support this - small class sizes do not improve educational outcomes - what they do make is a huge difference to the confidence of education. People (kids, teachers, parents) feel better if class sizes are reasonable, and if the class sizes have to be big that there is quality spaces to work in.

Again NZ performs extremely well on the best test of all and that is in comparison to the OECD countries.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Managerial Approach to Education

There have been some significant philosophical changes in education since National won the election in 2007. Firstly Anne Tolley, and now Hekia Parata aim to improve student outcomes through increasing structures around measuring schools. Time will tell if outcomes improve but it would be fair to say input from the sector around these policies has been minimal, along with additional funding. Anyway Kelvin Smythe, a long time devotee to education in New Zealand has put together a questionnaire that  accurately timelines the events of the last few years. It is quite difficult to digest, considering the importance of education to our nations standing.

Click here to view the questionnaire.

In regards to measuring how efficient our education system is you can't get much better feedback that the world wide measure (of similar countries) through the OECD.

How good is New Zealand?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sparc becomes Sport NZ

Early this month SPARC  repackaged itself into SportNZ, the new name for the government organisation responsible for sport and recreation in NZ. The mission with the organisation is about promoting participation and enjoyment which leads through to the high performance areas of national representation.

I enjoyed viewing this little movie which shows the essential benefits of the importance that sport plays in our society. It lists some compelling statistics!

 Click here to view

Sunday, January 29, 2012

New Minister of Education

The senior management team began the year at a 2 day conference in Hamilton called Learning at School. This conference  focuses on the current trends around the future of learning and is enlightening and challenging.

It also gave us a chance to hear our new Minister of Education, the Honourable Hekia Parata.

You may like to hear her 17 minute conference opening speech.

Monday, July 11, 2011

National Standards

Insight, a Sunday morning show from Radio New Zealand,  investigates the ongoing opposition to national standards for primary schools as they face the deadline for setting targets in reading, writing and maths. This show, written and presented by John Gerritsen and produced by Philippa Tolley gives a very balanced view on the struggles each party, either for or against, is experiencing, as National Standards have been in schools for 18 months. I recommend that you have a listen.

Click here to listen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The teacher and the child...that's is the difference

On May 18th 2011, Stanford University professor Linda-Darling Hammond was awarded the Teacher's College medal for devoting her life to a long and dedicated career in education reform. Below is a transcript of her acceptance speech, as posted on the Nation. As you might expect, she's got some pretty powerful things to say.

Click to read this very powerful speech..

Monday, November 15, 2010

History repeats (or does it?)

I found this article in the Scotsman newspaper by Andrew Whitaker. This is the perennial commentary around schools today where one generation thinks it is superior to the next, even though the society that schools are working in is vastly different that the 40 years before. Today's markers might like to find out what it really was like in their day. One thing that intrigues me is when was the point that we judge the declining standards against? A perfect example lies beneath as we compare media examples from 1964 and 2011.

AN EXAMS authority has launched a scathing criticism on the lack of basic reading and writing skills among pupils in Scottish schools.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority highlighted poor spelling and grammar among teenagers sitting Higher English exams in 2010.

A key finding from the report said that handwriting was so poor that teachers are being encouraged to allow some pupils to use computers or to let them dictate the answers to exam questions to staff - facilities normally only used for pupils with dyslexia or other learning difficulties.

The report said: "Many markers commented on the poor handwriting of some candidates, which sometimes made it extremely difficult and time consuming to mark the essay.

"This is a serious problem in a critical essay, which might extend over five or more pages, making it hard to follow and concentrate on the candidate's line of thought."

They stressed that no candidate's work was, or ever has been, left unmarked for this reason. The report suggested that pupils whose handwriting is seriously weak are given alternatives, such as using computer technology without spellcheck to write their exams.

BUT IN 1964 this story appeared as a headline in an August, 1964 edition of The Glasgow Herald:

"Examiners are once again complaining about the poor standard of grammar and spelling of candidate's in this year's new Scottish Certificate of Education examinations."

"Many educationalists and examiners claim that since the Scottish Leaving Certificate and Junior Secondary Certificate were abolished only two years ago, bringing in the new Higher and Ordinary Grade certificates, candidates work has deteriorated markedly. Suddenly, reading skills and good handwriting are no longer important to the young?
Grammar, also a very important part of the English language, has also slumped."

"Scottish Home and Health Department educationalists are putting this lowering of standards down to the advent of television, and more leisure activities in the post-War period, leading to less reading amongst the young."

(Source: The Glasgow Herald Archives)

So it begs the question - when was spelling and grammar satisfactory in schools?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Animated.

This animate is a visual adaptation to a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award. His speech, on Changing Paradigms of Education, puts some of New Zealand recent educational policy in a global context, (not is a positive way). It is very interesting and the amazing animation makes it a very easy watch. His message really resonates amongst the challenges facing schools today. It is 11 minutes along so hang in there and sadly his full conclusion is not included, but you will get the idea to his message. Watch out for the amazing bit on ADHD / Ritolin around the 3.30 mark.

Who are the RSA? -

The RSA is a UK charitable organisation that promotes new ways of thinking about human fulfilment and social progress. In the light of new challenges and opportunities for the human race, and by combining thought leadership, social engagement and powerful forms of collaboration, the RSA aims to make a vital and unique contribution to how we see the world.

Click here to go to their website and see other presentations.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dyslexia and social networking

One of the great thing about web 2.0 and social networking is the connections and people you meet (although not really)! Luqman Micel commented on Sarah's dyslexia blog recently, inviting her (and us) to see his blog on dyslexia, teaching and learning from Malaysia. No air tickets required, and of course I was able to click and read his content which was very useful, challenging exisiting practices and adding to the melting pot that defines different approaches to individual learning needs. You can read Luqman's blog here. Social networking allows people with dyslexia and learning difficulties to communicate with confidence as it is about the message and the content, not necessarily the accuracy.

One humourous posting on Luqman's blog was this poem on the complexities of the English language...

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England .
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
Grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
And get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
And in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

And if people from Poland are called Poles
Then people from Holland should be Holes
And the Germans, Germs.

And lets not forget the Americans, who changed s to z, but that's another story.

Thank you Luqman

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ewan McIntosh - Eportfolios and emerging literacies

Ewan MacIntosh is someone I really admire. He has made a strong contribution to 21st century education with a prominent role in England and Scotland, including work as Digital Commissioner 4iP (Scotland, Northern Ireland and The North East) at Channel 4. Some of the Muritai staff subscribe to his regular posts. He is a strong advocate for student voice and engagement of children in their learning using 21st technology.

In this short video he gives credence to our blogging culture at school. He talks about the development of an outcome as the important thing to be shared and celebrated and describes learning as often messy! All our teachers keep class blogs which children contribute too and share the learning landscape with the local and global community

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nigel Latta

Many of us know Nigel Latta, a psychologist and parenting expert from his excellent 'Politically Incorrect Parenting Show' TV show last year. Nigel has an excellent website which you can access here.

I have been enjoying his regular sessions with Kathryn Ryan on National Radio where he shares tips on how parents can support and grow their children in a pragmatic and realistic way. You can choose from a variety of topics by clicking here to see the online catalogue.

A particularly useful episode recently focused on helping children deal with psychological bullying from peers. This is the scourge of many schools where bullying is common in an invisible way as bullies cleverly dominate through subtle psychological intimidation. Click here for the excellent session.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Future of Education

One of the best sources of quality discussion around education can be found at good old National Radio. This discussion on Kathryn Ryan's 'Nine to Noon' slot sees an excellent interview with Dr Monica Martinez about the future of education.

Listen to this excellent podcast by clicking here.

Monica Martinez is lead developer of the US-based KnowledgeWorks Foundation's influential '2020 Forecast: Creating the future for learning'. The discussion touches on how this Foundation uses the 2020 Forecast to highlight how education is evolving in a world where learning is tailored to the needs of the individual student and brought to life through real-world experiences. You can see what Knowledgeworks is about by clicking here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dyslexia and male and female brains

I had the pleasure of attending a 4D conference on Dyslexia in Auckland this week. The morning session was presented by Neil Mackay, a teacher and trainer who created the concept of the Dyslexia Friendly School, something we are aspiring to achieve. Our determination to improve access for children with learning difficulties to the curriculum is based on our desire for all children to be achieving and being their best. To do this we must accept different ways that children can show us they understand concepts, knowledge and skills. It was a fantastic day. You can check out some of Muritai thinking at Sarah's learning support blog.

In addition to this Neil showed us a clip from Mark Gungor where he explains the difference between female and male brains. This clip is VERY funny.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Bring on the Learning Revolution

In 2006 Sir Ken Robinson shook the educational world with his talk at the TED conference which outlined 'how schools can kill creativity'. In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning -- creating conditions where kids' natural talents can flourish.

Using a large amount of humour, a series of poignant quotes and references, Sir Ken delivers another powerful session which challenges the process of current education reform. His reference to the general idea that 'successful' educational system is all about getting to 'university' resonates for NZ. His challenge is understanding the way that education feeds and promotes our human community.

Watch out for the bit about about Kindergarten.....

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Lost Generation

An old friend sent this to me recently and I found it very, very clever and moving. As we all know a palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward.

Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite too.

This is only a 1 minute 44 second long video, but it is brilliant. Make sure you read it as well as listen...forward and backward.

This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20 year old. The contest was titled "u @ 50" by AARP. This video won second place. When they showed it, everyone in the room was awe-struck and broke into spontaneous applause. So simple and yet so brilliant.

Take a minute and watch it.