Friday, August 29, 2014

My words, like silent raindrops fell and echoed In the wells of silence (Paul Simon)

I shared this TED talks presentation with a couple of my classes this week.

When my form class watched (and my Year 11 class) I could tell they were thinking about what they were seeing/reading (I had the transcript on as one of my students is deaf). How did I know? They weren't talking!

Did they get the message? I don't know. I hope so.

Why did I show it?

Well let's's a tough message and I thought it was worthwhile and Clint Smith is an engaging speaker. And it was short, but long enough to generate thought without being a lecture.

Most of all though - I wanted to challenge myself.

What does that mean? Well, at times, we're all guilty of silence-looking away, not engaging with others, and not confronting prejudice front on.

I have been that guy in the past-the one who bites his tongue when people are racist or sexist or stoopid. It's tough for me to be confrontational in that instant. Particularly when they are strangers.

A bus driver took my football team to a game recently and he was vaguely homophobic and I couldn't let his idiotic comment slide. I used my old standby - friends of mine are gay and they are good people (better than a lot of heterosexuals I wanted to add, but I didn't-I wish I had but he was ignorant and I had to get my girls to the game in one piece).

Feeling like I needed to watch the talk a few times to get the message, I did just that with the classes. 

I think I have it now. I will not be so accommodating next time, I hope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Say you just can't live that negative way (Bob Marley)

I wrote a post recently about my experiences regarding the past ERO visits I'd been involved in.

I am well aware that the blogosphere has been holding its collective breath for my report of my most recent bout of ERO.

Except...I have to exercise a large dollop of discretion and self censorship for this post.

All I can say is that it was... underwhelming.

They seemed to have little capacity to review a technologically innovative school so the less said the better.

And that's all I'm saying - as my mother said - if you can't say anything nice - don't say anything at all.

So - Next topic: We have a visit next week by our Minister of Education.

I've written about Hekia Parata in the past and so...I'm going to exercise another large dollop of self restraint on this one too.

Instead - another next topic: I wrote a post on my Wozza's Place blog recently about new forms of advertising in the digital age. Here's an excerpt:
The best advertising isn't advertising so says Chapter three in Velocity (the brilliant book by Ahmed/ Olander).

The goal is to create connections with customers and earn their loyalty by serving them; 
This means a shift from selling a product to selling a service.

At a recent school assembly we were shown an advert made by women's personal care brand Always.

You'll be stunned to know that the video itself wasn't about personal care products for women at all!

Instead it takes on the outdated idea of 'running like a girl, throwing like a girl' and promotes the worthy concept of women's self esteem. A self esteem that has been battered by the 'throw like a girl' pejorative term (or so says the advert).

I haven't heard the term for years but there you go.

As we were watching the advert I was getting the growing feeling that I was being manipulated. I couldn't help wondering what this video was selling. What was Always

Unlike the ANZ advert that I featured on my Wozza's Place blog - this one was more insidious. The brand name Always featured only at the end and only in a minor way.

See what you think..

This article mentioned a Dove advert that also effectively targets women's perceptions of themselves:

Clearly these are great examples of the shift from selling a product to selling a service. Who wouldn't want women to feel better about themselves?

I'm sure the Always advert's makers would be delighted to know that their advert was being shown to a school assembly.

My question - when does selling a service stop and selling a product start?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

She made you tea, asked for your autograph - what a laugh (Jethro Tull)

We have the pleasure of an ERO visit this week at school. 

ERO stands for Education Review Office and if you're in the northern blogohemisphere think Ofsted.

I was reflecting today (as the ERO officer perambulated around my classroom and looked at my wall displays of The Beatles, Arsenal, Star Wars amid the work of students) how many inspections/reviews I'd been part of in my teaching career so far.

At New Plymouth Boys' High I was lucky enough to catch the death throes of the old Inspectorate system, before ERO was born in the late 1980s. These were scary things. The Inspectors came, watched in a humourless way and left. I never found out what they thought but I wasn't fired so that was good.

My first ERO visit was at MacLeans College. Ron Martin had been one of my lecturers at Teachers' College and was now working for ERO. He bounced into my class, watched for approximately 90 seconds and then asked if he could teach some stuff. Well Dah! I watched him for about 10 minutes and he bounced out. Great stuff!

The visit when I was a first time Head of English at Waimea College wasn't very memorable, nor my second time HoD English at Mt. Albert Grammar. 

Then I went to Cambridge High School as Deputy Principal and had two wildly contrasting reviews within months of each other. The first one thought we were the best school on the planet, but political pressure (or something) lead to a second one which was utterly scathing. Yes the same school. Yes within months of each other!! Weird.

In England at The King John School I enjoyed the terror of the Ofsted inspectors. It felt something like the old coldly bureaucratic School Inspectors. The school was in a complete tizz for weeks before and during the visit. But the review was glowing!

Back in NZ and my first year of Principalship and - you guessed it - an ERO review. Also a very positive experience at Stratford High School I am happy to report. A lot of paper work but we got a very encouraging review.

In the Middle East I found myself acting as a defacto ERO reviewer of a school while being embedded in it. It was a great experience and the school made a lot of progress in terms of teaching and learning.

And so - to my...let's ninth review in 31 years of teaching. This time as HoD English again.

I really hope she is a Beatles/ Arsenal/ Star Wars fan!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

To live will be awfully big adventure (J M Barrie)

The boys to entertain you: Greg, Ian, Andrew and Wozza

Our school's putting on some show in Napier soon. Can't for the life of me remember what it's called or when it's on but get along. It'll be awesome!!!