Post-Quakes Recovery Act II: Building Momentum

April 13, 2014

The 2013 Festival of Transitional Architecture evening parade featured some ambulatory 4m puppets. Clever examples of jerry-built woodworking, they bore a clear resemblance to national and local notables leading Christchurch’s post quakes recovery .

Unlike normal puppets their interior workings were visible so you could see the strings being pulled and the wheels being turned. Glaring spotlights on the giants did make it hard to discern supporting members of the street theatre cast. The public was left in the dark.

As the parade promenaded from the Bridge of Remembrance past the demolished Clarendon site to the Square the scene became better lit. No longer centre stage, the puppets were parked to one side. Near the grim west end of the Cathedral erstwhile spectators now found themselves in the limelight. Were they ready to act or had they been on the sidelines too long?

As Festa reminded us, the Christchurch rebuild is going to take a generation. But transitions are not just about architecture. They involve sharing knowledge and sharing power.

We may like the idea of a city in a garden but more than three years after the quakes of 2010/11 we still have only a shaky grip on the consequences of living in what for many is still a city in a swamp.

Lest we forget, the collapsed PGG building once housed the old Christchurch Drainage Board. John Wilson’s 1989 history of the board was entitled Swamp to City. A sequel might be called The Swamp Strikes Back. A new Council is coming to grips with the implications of recent manifestations of hydrological and seismic natural hazards,.

Transitions are also about changing power structures to facilitate collaboration and innovation. What was responsible leadership during the disaster response process may be unresponsive and inappropriate at this stage of the recovery.

Stirred up even more by the impending election, these are the tricky waters which Seismics and the City 2014 Building Momentum will navigate next Friday.

This is the third annual forums for representatives of public and private sector and community organisations involved or interested in the post-quake recovery process, progress, problems and solutions . It is being held at the new Rydges Latimer, on the fringe of the new city core, near the Cardboard Cathedral and the proposed Breathe Urban Village. This is an appropriate venue to reimagine the future of new Christchurch, share scientific and business knowledge and build relationships.

The rebuild may be starting to ramp up but there is traffic congestion at the on ramp and the need for a more integrated approach to get things flowing. Right now there seem to be more orange and red lights than green, though it was heartening to read recently of progress on the new library and the old Provincial Chambers.

The challenge is to balance speed and momentum with getting the direction right by avoiding the extremes of political pollyannaism and corrosive cynicism .

This stage of the recovery and renewal process should no longer be a spectator sport. People will support what they help to create not what is imposed upon them. To improve the quality of recovery implementation it is crucial that a broad range of organisations collaborate.

As David Killick points out there is a plethora of plans from different agencies and the need for a more simplified road map. But whence? Where to? How do communities and organisations get from where they are now to where they want to go? How do they shift beyond black and white thinking but also avoid too many shades of grey?

Imagineering needs to precede engineering. Engaging people starts with an initial vision. The way to evolve that is with some big picture satellite views, zooming in on the topography from different perspectives, then the main highways and finally at street level.

Bold though it was the initial inner city rebuild plan in 2011 was called a “blueprint”, a cut and dried label which neither allowed different scenarios nor allayed the suspicions of some inner-city property owners that they had been framed.

At CECC’s 2013 AGM Ian Taylor from Animation Research in Dunedin showed his animation of the Euan Harkness-initiated concept of a Living Cathedral for Christchurch. He demonstrated that visual tools can be used not just sell a series of decisions reached behind closed doors but to openly share alternative visions and designs as part of the decision making process itself.

It is good to mark positive milestones as the rebuild builds momentum . But if we are to leave a worthy new legacy, having removed much of the old, we need to welcome constructively critical perspectives on the future shape of the city which challenge us to open our minds to a range of possibilities rather than being limited to an à la cart menu.

The recent flooding, made worse by the earlier seismic land slumps, highlights the need to accelerate the pre-quakes evolution of Greater Christchurch as a polycentric city, with vibrant business and community hubs connected in new ways to a leaner and healthier city heart.

The lifeblood of recovery and renewal is the energy of individuals and organisations collaborating, and shaping their own futures in new ways and in new places to ensure the future of New Christchurch.

Recovery Act II: are we ready or have we been sidelined too long? Lights, action…

*Blinks
Seismics and the City 2014 Building Momentum was held in Christchurch on Friday 28 March. See videos of presentations and other digital resources at   http://www.smartnet.co.nz/events/other/2014seismicsandthecity.htm 

#Lyall Lukey  13 April 2014 http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
My other (bit less serious) blog: http://bluggerme.wordpress.com/   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Opening our schools to the future

September 10, 2013

The Christchurch quakes have thrown up ground-breaking opportunities to accelerate the rate of education innovation.

Ministers like opening schools, not closing them: ask Trevor Mallard. But as the present Minister of Education Hekia Parata argued a year ago, for obvious seismic and demographic reasons there has to be major post-quakes rationalization of education provision in Greater Christchurch after the  devastating earthquakes of 2010-11.

The quakes threw up earth-shaking challenges and ground-breaking opportunities for education leaders and boards of trustees to look more clearly to the future as they build 21c learning communities fit for the second decade of the third millennium.

Renewing or reconfiguring learning environments because of seismic, technological or demographic disruption is a challenging process. Closures and mergers are tough on children, parents and teachers though, as the Mallard closures show, many soon embrace fresh beginnings, difficult though the transition may be.

But crisis and change also provide positive opportunities for leaders to engage their wider learning communities in the design and use of new learning environments and activities which will better equip 21c learners with the skills to navigate to the future.

The Ministry of Education has committed an investment of up to one billion dollars over a decade to develop greater Christchurch as a leading education community.

In the words of the Ministry’s  Shaping Education document “the impact of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes… has also been the catalyst for much creative thinking. The consensus seems to be: yes, we have lost much, but these events also give us an opportunity, as we renew, to rethink how we do things in education.” 

The original prospect was that 13 Christchurch schools would close and 18 could merge. Five Aranui schools would also combine into an education “cluster”. The announcement was a cluster bomb for many parents, teachers and learners.

The aftershocks are still being felt. After consultation some changes were made: for example, Chisnallwood Intermediate was removed from the Aranui “superschool” plans. But the main thrust remains and now it must be implemented well.

It would be a pity if the timing and initial handling of the education recovery and renewal strategy has inoculated some school communities against real opportunities to accelerate some necessary changes, earthquakes or no earthquakes. All learning communities, from early childhood to post tertiary, should be open to shaking off the remaining 1950’s vestiges of Yesterday’s Schools educational arrangements and adapting to a mobile and connected age.

Christchurch is an exciting test-bed for the future of education throughout New Zealand. Post-quakes renewal, demographic changes here, in Auckland and Hamilton, and well as leaky building and ICT issues nationwide, have accelerated transitional and new education building designs incorporating safety, adaptability, UF broadband, energy efficiency, weather proofing and future proofing.

The current seismic swarm in Central New Zealand will reinforce that many of these are national issues which demand long term strategic thinking.

This has already been articulated in the Ministry’s Christchurch design brief for recovery and renewal work which is not just to repair earthquake damage but to produce schools that would have flexible teaching spaces that can be expanded or reduced depending on requirements to support the learning activities of individuals and groups.

Now is not the time to paper over the physical and metaphorical cracks in education in the region. It is an opportunity to build deep and strong new foundations for differently configured learning communities. After early input from education professionals and students there needs to be built-in learning by design and construction which meets  evolving learning practices.

In the face of rapid change people tend to adopt one of two stances: either they look to the past to what has worked historically and do more of the same; or they look to the future and develop new solutions which use the changes as a springboard.

Many people will resist change if they are not actively engaged in it. But in the words of Marvin Weisbord:  “People will support what they help to create.”  After a shaky start, success in implementing education renewal initiatives in Greater Christchurch will depend on how well education leaders across the learning spectrum engage their professional colleagues, their boards and their wider communities.

Providing a timely platform for this engagement is Education Leaders Forum 2013, to be held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, with the theme Building 21 Century Learning Communities.

ELF13 will be part topical forum and part education safari to the future, with visits to innovative learning spaces and workplaces, to show the similarities between modern earning environments and modern earning environments in terms of teamwork and technology.

In the words of William Gibson “The future is already here-it’s just not evenly distributed”. Participants can learn from the future as it emerges and embrace it rather than reflecting on past experience and reacting.

Education site visits include Clearview Primary, Lincoln University’s School of Landscape Architecture, St. Margaret’s College, St. Thomas’ New Technology Centre, the new CORE Education Building and UC’s Hit Lab.  Innovative workplaces include Schneider Electric’s  Vision Room, showcasing energy sustainability, the  Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus and  The Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team.

Major Sponsors of ELF13 are Schneider Electric and the Ministry of Education-Schools Infrastructure.

Contributors include Mark Osborne, CORE Education; Prof Christopher Branson, University of Waikato; Dr Andrew West, Lincoln University; Hon Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of  Education; Jasper Van der Lingen, Sheppard & Rout Architects Ltd; Gillian Simpson, St Margaret’s College; James Petronelli,  Clearview Primary School; Robin Staples, Southern Cross Campus; and John Rohs, Aranui High School.

Education Leaders Forum 2013 provides quality thinking time for education professionals and board members to escape the tyranny of urgent day to day concerns and focus on the important longer term strategic perspective.

Note: This Perspective by Lyall Lukey, the Convenor of Education Leaders Forum 2013 Building 21c Learning Communities held in Christchurch on 28/29 August, was first printed in The Press on 20 August 2013.  For feedback and links to ELF13 presentations and videos visit Education Leaders Forum 2013


Novopay: An Incis-ive Report from Muddle-earth?

June 16, 2013

“The problems with Novopay have affected public trust and confidence in the Ministry of Education and also the wider public sector.”                  Novopay Report

Apart from those numerically numinous teachers who like an activity-based approach to the study of statistics and probability, Novopay’s game of unders and overs has been very annoying, especially for many of their colleagues. But it’s time to come in spinner and get some perspective.

So far the Novopay system has cost $24 million more than expected, though the blowout was likely to increase even further. But on the political Richter scale it is a mere 3.4 compared to an INCIS 9.1

INCIS was the name of the Integrated National Crime Information System designed to provide information to the New Zealand Police in the 1990s, but which was abandoned in 1999. By then it wasn’t integrated, it wasn’t national and it certainly wasn’t a system providing much timely information, but it really raised the bar in being a criminal waste of taxpayers’ money. By some estimates NZD$110 million swirled down the INCIS gurgler in the 1990s. Though the project was abandoned, parts of its hardware and software infrastructure are still in use today.

Edge of Chaos

At least Novopay lumbered into flight, if somewhat prematurely. Post-Report it is no dead duck, despite the guns being pointed collectively skyward from early May with people waiting for a different kind of report. There was plenty of ducking for cover.  Not getting all the ducks in a row in the first place was the big problem, as the Novopay Report makes clear.

Not Novopay ducks

Not Novopay ducks

There is a web-footed welcome to the finished product: “Welcome to the Ministerial Inquiry into Novopay website. The Minister responsible for Novopay, the Hon. Steven Joyce established the inquiry to address the issues and concerns surrounding Novopay – the education payroll system.”

Joyce is, of course,  the Minister responsible for the Novopay mop-up, not the cock-up. The role of the Ministerial Inquiry was to conduct a fact-finding investigation into Novopay from the outset to the present day and was led by the Lead Inquirers, Mr Murray Jack and Sir Maarten Wevers, to the accompaniment of Goodnight, Irene.*

Educhaos

The inquiry found Talent2, the Australian contractor tasked with implementing the system, has been swamped with technical difficulties which built up a tsunami of compounding errors. This was not entirely news: “The impacts of the well-publicised Novopay failures have reverberated across New Zealand”  for months. Those at the whiteboard face have not been backward in forwarding their error ridden payslips to the media*.

It has all very annoying and very time-wasting, but it is not quite in the league of, say, formerly Solid-as coalminers being wrenched from the coalface by sudden redundancy.

Just after the report was released Anne Jackson Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary (tertiary, international and system performance)  chose walking over planking by responsibly tendering her resignation. She said the decision to resign was hers alone and that there was no pressure put on her to quit. “I remain deeply committed to education and the principles of public service. That is why I have taken this step today…” A colleague followed last Friday. In fact there have already been three major MoE resignations, counting Secretary of Education Lesley Lonsgtone, though that was not solely Novopay inspired, nor pressure free.

Other colleagues will be squirming. Even if they weren’t trying to string along their political masters and mistresses, it does seem that the advice proffered to ministers was, to coin a phrase, ropey. Some advisers obviously gave themselves more than enough rope.

Unsurprisingly, responsible ministers of all persuasions since the Novopay behemoth lurched out of the laboratory were not fingered; it was all down to dodgy advice, the biggest sin for any public servant.

A Class Action?

The class action by the Post Primary Teachers’ Association on behalf of 18,000 members against Ministry of Education acting secretary Peter Hughes is a further waste of time and resources which should never have been started. In the wake of the latest resignations, it should be abandoned forthwith.

The Association is fighting to have a statutory declaration from the court that Hughes, who has only been in the acting role a few months,  has breached his Education Act obligations to pay school staff.  The union said it wants the ministry to shoulder the blame for the fiasco. Vampire movies are inexplicably still popular, but how much blood is enough?

Perhaps it’s really a classic class warfare action ahead of next year’s general election.  On a National Radio  item on Novopay PPTA president Angela Roberts talked about “the workers” as if she’d forgotten who she was representing. “Education professionals” and “support staff” would have sounded better.

Perspective

It really is time for a bit of perspective. Frustrating though the Novopay saga has been it is not payola. There has been some accountability, with at least two out for the count, even if the lighthouse keeper’s role of the State Services Commission hasn’t really been  put under the spotlight.

It is a fact that one teacher’s bungled pay slip was just 1c.  But alongside people facing the challenge of school closures and mergers, or those suffering genuine hardship in Christchurch because of EQC and/or insurance battles, these indubitably annoying errors pale into insignificance, especially given that many schools made temporary arrangements for those whose pay was cocked up. They should be compensated for wasted administration time, but litigation is a different matter.

The Biggest Issue

The biggest issue is why in the first place the Ministry looked off-shore for a tweaked, out of the box system when clever Kiwi IT and payroll firms could have delivered the goods in a more timely and user-friendly fashion.

That’s not to say there would have been any teething problems, both system and training, which is par for the course in any large change like this which shifts a largely manual system onto an integrated digital platform. All IT systems would be absolutely fine if it weren’t for the users. But at least the support would have been at hand and the chosen IT partner better vetted.

When she resigned Anne Jackson’s role was the development of strategic direction for the education system, including links with economic policy, skills and innovation. It’s a pity that MoE didn’t activate those links closer to home. As I said in an earlier Novopay blogpost* we have talent too.

Give Kiwi skills and innovation a chance!

*Blinks

http://inquiry.novopay.govt.nz The Ministerial Inquiry
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8782110/Novopay-claims-major-Education-Ministry-scalp
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/8782186/Education-Ministry-manager-quits-over-Novopay
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8799149/Off-to-court-as-teachers-pay-rounded-to-1c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLvk-qsKonQ    Vid  The Weavers Goodnight, Irene-from their historic re-union concert in 2008.-about the time Novopay kicked off.
Education Novovirus spreads in Muddle-earth My earlier blogpost on this.

#Lyall Lukey  16 June 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog


Ghost Writers in the Cloud-I

May 27, 2013

 “In China, and in many other countries, cheating and corruption is rampant – they have a philosophy that is completely different to us. Other countries don’t share our attitude. It’s more like if you can get away with it, then fine.” Associate Professor Martin Lally, Victoria University

According to Martin Lally, revelations of a commercial tertiary cheating service using ghost writers for Chinese-speaking students and others are probably just the tip of the iceberg. The low threshold for English competency in New Zealand universities, combined with different cultural attitudes to cheating, meant that the recent dial-a-grade revelation in the Sunday Star-Times “doesn’t come as the slightest surprise”.

Sui Generis

Time may tell how degrading this behaviour in New Zealand. One thing is certain: examination cheating in China has a long history because the Chinese Imperial Examination has a long history.

Established in 605 under the Sui Dynasty and flourishing under the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese imperial examination was designed to select the best potential candidates to serve as civil servants. *The system’s longevity should lift the sights of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. It continued, with some modifications, for 1300 years, until its 1905 abolition under the Qing Dynasty.

Tight quotas restricted the number of successful candidates. The examinations were designed as objective measures- the first standardized tests based on merit to evaluate the educational attainment and merit of the examinees. Higher level degrees tending to lead to higher ranking placements in the imperial government service.

The Chinese Imperial Examination had a huge influence on both society and culture in Imperial China and played a key role in the emergence of the scholar-officials, the Mandarins, who came to dominate Chinese society.

The system also contributed to  a narrowing of intellectual life and reinforced the autocratic power of the emperor, even if some of its recruits had doubts about the visibility of the garb of the current Emperor.

Evolving Curriculum

Pre Sui Dynasty tests to evaluate potential candidates consisted of various contests such as archery competitions, rather pointed way of sorting out the target market. The quiver brought a whole new dimension of exam nerves. Archery made cheating difficult but the contests were a bit hard to administer so the examinations evolved into a battery of tests administered at the district, provincial, and metropolitan levels. (After 1300 years they were still working on a properly moderated system of National Standards).

Candidates were initially tested on their proficiency in the “Six Arts”: Scholastic arts: music, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies in both public and private life.

The curriculum was then expanded under the Sui Dynasty to cover the “Five Studies”: military strategy, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography and the Confucian classics.  No mere 3Rs here; this was a broad curriculum-and no getting ahead by specialising in an arcane academic topic to snare a Ph.D. and frame one’s name with alphabetic prefixes and suffixes .

Infernal Assessment

Candidates arrived at an examination compound and were allocated a tiny room with a makeshift bed, desk, and bench and a few amenities including a water pitcher, a chamber pot, bedding, food, an ink stone, ink, and brushes. No short answer tests here: candidates spent three days and two nights writing “eight-legged essays”, with an octet of distinct sections.

They were not allowed any communication. If someone died during an exam, officials wrapped the body in a straw mat and dropped it over the compound’s high walls. In the annals of this Imperial system of infernal assessment these late and unlamented candidates were no doubt recorded as Not Achieved.

Invigilation

With intense pressure to succeed cheating and corruption were endemic.
Guards would verify the identity of each students and search them for hidden printed materials, sometimes written on their underwear*.

To discourage favoritism, each exam was recopied by an official copyist before marking so examiners wouldn’t identify their own student’s calligraphy. Even slightly creative writing was out: exact quotes from the classics were required for success. A misplaced character was enough to blot their copybook and disqualify a candidate; hence the ideogrammatically correct underwear to avoid being caught unawares.

The whole system offered Imperial Britain a role model for recruiting office wallahs in India and closer to home for the foreign and civil service.

It may also be worth considering by our State Services Commission as a way of preventing fake or inflated qualifications being brandished by public sector high

*Blinks
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8663770/University-cheats-in-the-minority  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8672646/Cheating-rampant-outside-NZ  http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8686568/Across-the-great-cultural-divide
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_examination  See photo of “Cribbing Garment” worn as underwear into the examination!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsfw9CEQITA Vid Ghost Riders In The Sky Vaughn Monroe  1949
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwAPa0qHmLo  Vid Ghost Riders In the Sky:Frankie Laine

#Lyall Lukey  27 May 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com My other (even) less serious blog


My Margaret Thatcher Moment

April 24, 2013

 “What after all, is a halo? It’s only one more thing to keep clean.”
The Lady’s Not for Burning, 1948 play by Christopher Fry

Margaret Thatcher was very aware of her likely place in history but she was not  into hagiography or housework. Being dubbed the Iron Lady by the Soviets was a red badge of honour  but being satirised as the Ironing Lady went down like an iron balloon.

As a young teacher I once had a front bench view of Thatcher thermodynamics before she became the Conservative Leader. She took over a lesson I was teaching.  

Cashmere High School used to attract more than its share of visiting VIPs. The foundation principal was the redoubtable Terence McCombs, a former Labour Minister of Education who subsequently became High Commissioner and was knighted.

His connections and the reputation of the school he founded attracted more than passing interest. In my 12 years at the school members of the Royal Family visited the school twice as did-separately- two U.K. Secretaries of State for Education and Science. The first, in 1972 I think, was Margaret Thatcher, a member of Edward Heath’s 1970 Cabinet.

I was teaching a junior English class at the time, not one of my main subjects. The lesson took place initially in the semi dark, with candles flickering to background music (Blowing in the Wind?) to ignite some creative writing and discussion amongst earnest third formers.

The Headmaster brought our guest into my classroom part way through this pedagogic process.  I was more than a little in awe: I was well aware of her soubriquet “Margaret Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”. She would later write in her autobiography: “I learned a valuable lesson [from the experience of abolishing free milk in schools at the behest of the Treasury]. I had incurred the maximum of political odium for the minimum of political benefit.”

Mrs T was an agenda setter and not a spectator. With the lights up she quickly took over the lesson, waxing eloquent. I was no match and couldn’t hold a candle to her. In fact she had stayed well away from the flickering focal point. The Lady was not for burning.

I can’t remember if she had a handbag but no doubt she did. She was already in full dress rehearsal mode to become the Leader of the Conservative Party, which she was from 1975 to 1990 and then Prime Minister for eleven dramatic years.

In the meantime another visitor to Cashmere High and my classroom was Shirley Williams, Secretary of Education and Science in James Callaghan’s Labour Government from 1976.  There was comprehensive interest by the Brits in our education system then. The terms of trade seem to have changed more recently.

One question still blowing in the wind: is Hekia Parata the Antipodean inheritor of the metaphorical Thatcher handbag or did Julia Gillard beat her to it?

*Blinks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIgFqOgADtQ  Margaret Thatcher – Pt 1 The Making of Margaret (Telegraph)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrQ4saKGI5k  Bob Dylan  Blowing in the Wind
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0PKcKbjlKg   Elton John – Candle In The Wind (Diana)

 #Lyall Lukey  24 April 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/ http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com My other (even) less serious blog


Education Changes: Preemptive PR and Preempted Strike

February 17, 2013

“The face and makeup of greater Christchurch has, and will continue to, dramatically change due to the earthquakes and our education system must respond to those changes”. Hekia Parata, Minister of Education. Press ad 16 February

A tad clumsy, with Revlon-like references rather than revelations, the Minister’s makeover message to parents and caregivers, (no mention of principals, teachers and students), is a bit of PR pro-activity before tomorrow’s “interim decisions” on the fate of 31 of the 38 Greater Christchurch schools affected by the bungled proposals announced late last year.*

Feedback-Simple as ABC?
Quick Quiz: What is the shortest word in the English language that contains the letters: abcdef? Answer: feedback.

The Minister was at pains to point out that “…I have listened to your feedback and made some changes to our proposals.” But feedback is not as simple as ABC, let alone DEF.  Feedback is only useful if it is fed into the process or system generating it. As Edward de Bono has it: “The essence of feedback is that the effect of an action is fed back to alter that action”.

Feedback is also no substitute for feedforward, which involves early local engagement, input and ownership of change.  Real consultation involves much more than the retrospective endorsement or rejection of bureaucratic plans.

Strike struck out

Others were obviously also listening to feedback. The same day’s paper had a small paragraph announcing that a proposed strike on February 19  “against Christchurch school closures and mergers” had been called off by the New Zealand Educational Institute.  The strike vote, belatedly orchestrated by the  primary teachers’ “union”,  had come reduntantly several weeks after an outpouring of criticism about the way the proposed changes had been handled, including mine*.

The call for a strike, which would have been held a little more than a fortnight after the long school vacation, was unnecessary and counterproductive. Perhaps the “strike off” announcement by National President Judith Nowotarski will mark a permanent sheathing of the archaic strike weapon in favour of more articulate ways to influence people without antagonising friends. The public and professional discourse about re-evaluating, re-defining and revaluing education in the second decade of the 21st century would be of higher quality without the trappings and claptrap of imported 19th century clothcapism.

Unsung heroes?

Apart from the stupidity of closing schools temporarily to make a protest about permanent closures and inconveniencing parents and their employers when the new school year had hardly started, the proposed stoppage date was almost two years to the day since PPTA members in Canterbury were assembling at the Town Hall as the lethal 22 February quake hit at 12.51pm. Among the 185 dead was a secondary student who was able to leave school early and head to the city centre because of the paid stop work meeting about secondary teacher pay rates.

University of Canterbury Education lecturer Veronica O’Toole has been looking at the emotional impact of the Christchurch earthquakes and seeing whether, as in New York after 9/11, “teachers were the unsung heroes.”* In many cases no doubt they were, but I’m afraid the accolade didn’t apply on quake day to the secondary teacher absentees at the PPTA meeting, though their (mainly non PPTA) colleagues who stayed behind did a great job looking after those students still at school. As I observed when leaving the CBD that day, many of those who left school early were walking the streets of Christchurch when the quake hit.  Off-site meetings of teacher unions–I’d prefer the term professional associations-should be conducted outside the normal school teaching day.

In the disruptive aftermath of the February quake teachers and students did very well, demonstrating resilience and innovation. The results of NCEA exams posted by Canterbury students in the last two years have been remarkable overall.

Network  not working
“As Education Minister, I have also had to look at how each school fits into the whole education network…” Hekia Parata

The term “education network”  has been part of Ministry-speak for some time. In terms of cyberspace a network is a collection of computers and other hardware devices interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information. The network will not work unless there is free knowledge and information sharing.

In the wake of Ministry head Lesley Longstone’s resignation Hekia Parata spent a lot of time meeting with the schools affected on their turf. This was brave lion’s den stuff, although some might say it was merely picking of schools one by one, rather than having cluster involvement from the outset. A free exchange of information and ideas would have got a better level of engagement and productive discussion  in terms of the need for post earthquake change.

What if the proposed post quakes education changes had been framed as questions for Knowledge Café discussions by a cross-section from each cluster, with an overarching question?  If the Ministry of Education could allocate $1 billion in Greater Christchurch to post earthquake recovery and renewal-say 80% repairs and capital works 20% staffing and new programmes, what collaborative projects and cost sharing arrangements would your cluster suggest, given the demographic and safe building contraints that exist?

Goal oriented knowledge sharing and creative thinking would have really engaged each cluster as part of the Greater Christchurch learning ecology. The approach actually used  was atomistic and devoid of collaboration, unlike the local  initiatives many Christchurch school communities took in the wake of the quakes.

After individual school notifications tomorrow morning the “interim decisions” will be posted at the Ministry’s  Shaping Education web-page.* School communities will be hoping that Shafting Education is not a more appropriate  title*.

*Blinks
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-education-cluster-bomb/
www.shapingeducation.govt.nz  http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/schools/8315185/
Canterbury-schools-resigned-to-poisoned-chalice

#Lyall Lukey 17 February 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nzhttps://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog


Education Novovirus spreads in Muddle-earth

February 3, 2013

 “Talent2 multiplies the power and productivity of people… to deliver end-to-end talent management solutions that put people first.”  Novopay provider’s puffery*

Noroviruses are the most common cause of viral  gastroenteritis in humans and affect people of all ages, causing nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, headache, coughs and low-grade fever. The disease is usually self-limiting, and severe illness is rare.

Not so the dreaded Novovirus, generated by the new on-line pay system for teachers called Novopay, known in some quarters as Nopay, which is somewhat harder to stomach.

It will be interesting to watch as Dr Novopay, aka Steven Joyce, Minister of Most Things, seeks to enforce Aussie provider Talent2’s bond. To date the company appears so far to be neither shaken nor stirred by the well brewed brouhaha at the Ministry of Education, the epicentre of Muddle-earth. Only after departing Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone made a tough phone call did Talent2 unleash some more call centre talent prior to the big Xmas pay.

No PayPal
Despite that beefing up many teachers still have legitimate beefs and for them the new on-line system is no PayPal.  It was to be 90% online, 10% service centre. The Parata Principle* has probably seen these ratios reversed.

There is even talk of former provider Datacom, one of our largest and most successful technology companies, being placed on standby to pick up the pieces. (DataSouth won’t be on any new shortlist).

Fire Proof?
“My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.” PL Plauger

Norovirus is rapidly inactivated by either sufficient heating or by chlorine-based disinfectants. The heat is now really on Talent2’s Novovirus but our trans Tasman neighbours can be fairly phlegmatic in the face of conflagration. Will Joyce fire them?

On the disinfecting front  he’s already called a Ministerial enquiry which should be reframed as an enquiry into the Labour Ministers involved in the initiation of the long-winded and bug bound development process and the three National Ministers who signed off on all systems go when they palpably weren’t. The planned pilot fell off the radar well before this so the resulting systems crash shouldn’t be a surprise to those in the know. They should be really scared.

NZ has Talent Too
Our education system and support systems like pay ought to be indigenous. There has been a post colonial binge of off-shore recruiting for many public sector posts, including in education. Top people shouldn’t be helicoptered from elsewhere and dropped in it, as were Janice Shiner, erstwhile TEC boss and Lesley Longstone -or Pippi Longstocking, as she was unkindly called by some.

 Dramatic change in education doesn’t require imports. The important thing is the synergy between  reforming ministers of education and the chief civil servant: think Dr Clarence Beeby, longserving Director of Education from 1940 and Education Ministers like Peter Fraser and Terence McCombs.

Systematic change should be organic and come from within rather than being grafted on. It’s fine to study other education systems like Finland’s, not for facile answers but for the purpose of asking questions about our own system and challenging its practitioners. Answers need to be refracted through the lens of our own culture to meet our own needs and goals and implementation needs to engage all those involved.

Digital Divide or Digital Dividend?

One question: if it had been a new  Kiwi on-line pay system, with local support and fewer bugs,  would there still have been at least in some schools, a culture gap and a training gap in moving to a largely on-line system? Would any such gaps  correlate to the digital divide between Yesterday’s Schools and Today’s Schools. What would the digital dividend have been overall?

The solution: Avon Yap
A home grown solution for the Minister is to immediately contract the newly set up HR PR company Avon Yap, operating under the corporate umbrella of the TalentToo brand.

As the name suggests, Avon Yap is an outspoken Christchurch-based consultancy which has learnt from recent seismic and the city episodes* and is not afraid to work with Wellington’s movers and shakers. Avon Yap also knows nothing about payroll systems but can offer a better class of PR to tarseal over the cracks and flossy up financial fissures with flair.

Its  corporate missionary position is: “TalentToo divides the power and productivity of people in order to create new jobs… to deliver start to start public relations solutions that put people out first so we can handle the fallout.”

The service centre is in Brisbane. Who are you going to call….?

*Blinks

http://www.talent2.com/home
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/8254079/Teachers-owed-12m-thanks-to-Novopay
http://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/the-education-cluster-bomb/ The Parata Principle
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETxmCCsMoD0  Money Money Money Music video by Abba (C) 1976, possibly the year Novopay was first mooted.
Seismics and the City -When a City Rises  21 March-Be there!

 #Lyall Lukey 3 February 2013
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other (even) less serious blog

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 66 other followers