The Dumbing Down Of America – By Design

February 19, 2019
This article by Joachim Hagopian highlights what is happening within the education system and mass media to dumb us all down as a society to become malleable ‘vassals’ (a term used by Zbigniew Brzezinski who wrote “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperitives) – not only in America, but also in Australia and New Zealand where as a teacher, I painfully experienced this ‘dumbing down’ effect…

Love is the Missing Foundation of Education

December 14, 2012
As the tail of non-achievement in education steadily grows in New Zealand despite all the theories put forward about what we need to do about it, one thing has been consistently overlooked: Education needs to have a foundation of love. I can still hear the cynical…

Make Mistakes. Lots of Them! And Learn.

December 14, 2012
Perhaps I will mostly be remembered by my students as that ‘crazy’ teacher who used to say, “I want you to make lots of mistakes.” I could always feel myself grinning inside each time I saw their astonished faces. I mean, mostly parents and teachers get mad when children make mistakes, right?

National Standards and What Education is ‘Really’ About (Podcast)

June 19, 2011
Juliet Bonnay talks with Des Mann, founding principal of Green Bay High School in Auckland, New Zealand about some alternatives to National Standards and what education is “really about anyway.”

The ADD Myth

June 09, 2011
The postie arrived at lunch time with the mail at a little rural school in New Zealand, where I taught a few years ago. “Wow!” he said, “You actually let the kids climb trees!” His statement took me by surprise. After all, I was a kid once and loved climbing trees just as much as any boy. I let my students do other ‘dare-devil’ things too…

 About School

June 10, 2011
This post includes a poem handed into a teacher by a senior in high school shortly before he committed suicide. It highlights the frustration of many students at school and unfortunately, mine too. Schools focus so much on mistakes that too many children learn that they are a ‘mistake’. One day I discovered that one…

Treat Children With Respect

February 12, 2011
While I was training to become a teacher I was struck by a lecturer’s remark that no matter what we learned about teaching practice, how we ourselves were taught would be our most powerful model in the classroom. This also applies to parenting. No matter how caring we are with our own children, during unguarded moments of stress…

The 4 Most Important R’s

November 11, 2010
We have all been taught what the three most important R’s are in school, but have you ever considered that there are other R’s that might be more important? I used four of them to very good effect while teaching, and they had nothing to do with reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.

National Standards and the Big “F”

November 06,  2010
Several years ago I attended a discipline forum at a New Zealand boys’ high school with some questions I wanted to ask. For instance, I wondered about the effect on students of low teacher morale. What was the impact on their behaviour when teachers failed to engage their interest – especially if they had lost passion for their subject…

Child-Centred Learning: The day the rabbits came to school

October 14, 2010
Chattering excitedly, four children entered the classroom carrying boxes and a basket. I soon found out what was inside, for they could not contain their excitement. To join the class for the day were four baby bunnies – complete with milk and syringes for feeding…

How Children’s Self-Esteem is Torn Apart

September 09, 2010
“There’s a dangerous undercurrent to this country, something sunless… Beneath the veneer of pikelets and lolly scrambles, there is something in this country not altogether nice,” wrote Katherine Mansfield Award winner, Janis Freegard in her story, Mill

What National Standards Can’t Fix

August 11, 2010
Bouncing excitedly onto the front seat of the car, her face glowing, words burst from her mouth, “I came second in the spelling test today!” “Why didn’t you come first?” her mother quipped curtly in reply. From the back seat I saw the instant mask of shame wipe all excitement from her face as if her mother had slapped it…