plus the earthquake & a few new photos are posted
17.09.2010 15 °C
Since I have arrived here in NZ I have been watching - with great interest - the state of the teaching profession. Like the US, teachers here are under siege with unpopular mandates from the Ministry of Education. To top it all off, this week a big annual report came out that stated that many NZ secondary school teachers are paid less, and work more hours, than other teachers in nations in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). OK so that’s 29 other countries - ouch! After 15 years experience, a NZ teacher makes $10,000 less than OECD counterparts; NZ teachers also start at a lower pay scale. Speaking of hours worked, only teachers in the US and Mexico work more hours than NZ teachers. Ouch again.
NZ is a small nation of only about 5 million people, geographically isolated, in the southwest corner of the Pacific Ocean yet has boasted some of the best educational results for decades. I believe the consensus is that NZ has had a world class educational system. When I became a teacher in the 80s it was all about the “NZ way”. Moreover, tertiary education is a “product”. Many wealthy university students from all over the world come to NZ to study and live, and often their parents come to visit as well, which all equals big bucks for NZ! Recent changes to (K-12) standardization go against the Kiwi grain of local control, individualism, and creativity. People vociferously complain of failed K-12 educational policies from the US and UK being imported to NZ.
For awhile now, secondary school teachers are in negotiations with the Ministry of Education and have reached a stalemate. Teachers are asking for a 4% raise and a”genuine commitment” from the Ministry to address class size, teacher retention, and recruitment. Due to the fluidity between NZ and Australia, (the UK too) many teachers simply leave NZ for greener pastures. This week in both Wellington and Auckland, big rallies were organized; last I heard about 2,000 teachers, wearing black, marched down Queen Street in Auckland last Wednesday. More later as this drama unfolds…..
On the home front, everything is going very well. We are looking at all sorts of used furniture and plan to move early October. It will be fun to unpack and see what we brought. It’s been so long since we packed it will be like Christmas!! We bought a second car, Mazda of course; it’s a station wagon so little Miss Pumpkin Princess has her own “space”. Actually she is turning into a pumpkin and has gained weight; and no, she is not eating any of the infamous NZ savory meat pies! I love my new job and my brain is “switched on” – lots to learn and wonderful people to work with. I have a spacious office with all sorts of spiky, wild NZ surreal succulent greenery outside my wall of windows. I foresee it will be a lot of work and extremely absorbing. I reckon (popular word) the work will be chewy. But hey, I don’t have any papers to grade at home… or lessons to plan... or parents to call… or… or… or…. like I did when teaching.
EARTHQUAKE UPDATE: The news has been pretty comprehensive for those interested in the Christchurch/Canterbury area quake. All I can say is kudos to the Kiwis. Staunchness has triumphed despite days/nights of massive rumbling aftershocks freaking everyone out. The mental anguish has been horrific. Anyway, due to excellent building codes and amazingly thorough on-the-ground-response from all the various organizations, recovery and rebuilding are well on the way. I’m so sorry I did not see Christchurch’s gorgeous old brick buildings before this happened. I’m extremely impressed with responses compared to other natural disasters I can think of.
Final thought, having two springs in one year is extra special nice! Our garden has all sorts of bulbs (tulips & daffodils are just finished); many flowers and shrubs are blooming and trees are starting to green up. Strange things are blooming, I have no idea what they are, but they are pretty!
PS: if you are looking at photos and see BMX guys – it was so funny. We were walking on an old timber road when suddenly I hear “OH SHIT….. PEOPLE” and this guy sailed over my head on his bike!! I was afraid he would be scared of me and crash but he didn’t… they were the cutest guys, about 18 y.o., and we had a nice long chat. I took photos of them as they did tricks for us – and they were good! The track was impressive and totally hidden in the woods.