Vision and Objectives for the Ōtākaro Avon River corridor

June 3, 2017

“…vision and strategy are as much about creating meaning for people as they are about establishing direction.”  Andrew Smith

Comments made by a Regenerate Christchurch spokesperson, in the Stuff article accompanying the call for feedback on the Vision and Objectives for the post-quakes  Ōtākaro Avon River corridor*, included mention of the organisation “working at different levels simultaneously” on the Regeneration Area.

This devalues the envisioning phase of the strategic planning process. Work should not begin on the objectives, strategic and operational planning until the vision is crystallised and accepted. The sequence is the secret, as Andrew Smith points out in relation to his Accelerated Planning Technique.*

Comments on the Draft:

“The draft vision for the Ōtākaro Avon River Regeneration Area has been shaped by thousands of ideas from Christchurch people about how the area can be transformed into an attractive and exciting legacy for our community.”

No-the thousands of ideas are the raw material, not the shapers. Don’t confuse the clay with the potter.

“The vision and objectives have been informed by public feedback, a community needs survey, 19 workshops with a diverse range of groups, a community profile and more than 5000 ideas from adults and children….”

A lot of input to produce a weak vision and clumsy objectives!

“Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision
The river is part of us and we are part of the river. It connects us with each other, our communities and nature…”

The second sentence is tautologous and clumsy, which is merely irritating. But the first sentence reads like a poetical or mystical vision, not the kind of vision at all appropriate to lead off a vision statement of this sort.

A properly crafted vision describes the endpoint and outcomes of the collective journey or collaborative enterprise. It should contain the ingredients of the criteria for evaluating whether or not the journey or enterprise has been satisfactory completed.

Evan Smith’s article in today’s Press “Cleaner Avon River offers more options” * is not structured as a vision/objectives/strategy but it has key elements that could be incorporated in “Our shared Ōtākaro Avon River vision”.

These include an excellent visual and “a concept around recreational renaturalisation of the river, with a particular focus on Kerr’s Reach that allows for flat water sports and a river floodplain too” and criteria like greatly improved water quality and sustainability and parallel benefits in terms of flood management.

The benefits help to sell the concept, though it is quite clear that more work has to be done on hydrological and other ingredients of the concept.

Formatted rather annoyingly, the “vision” meanders on, as murky as the Avon River itself:

“….It is a living part of our city.
A place of history and culture
where people gather, play, and celebrate together.
A place of learning and discovery
where traditional knowledge, science and technology meet.
A place for ideas and innovation
where we create new ways of living and connecting.
Our vision is for the river to connect us together
with each other, with nature and with new possibilities.
Nōku te awa. The river is mine.
We all share in the future of this river.
Ōtākaro Avon River, together we thrive.”

More repetition and tautology: “Our vision is for the river to connect us together with each other…”. Then a switch from the collective to the individual: “Nōku te awa. The river is mine’, but in the next breath “We all share in the future of this river.”

A vision is supposed to lift our sights, focus our attention and fortify our aspirations. I am afraid that what we are offered instead is a confusing mishmash which does none of these things.

*Blinks
https://engage.regeneratechristchurch.nz/26899/documents/55615
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/93221595/reimagining-the-avon-river-for-recreation-and-nature  Evan Smith  2/6/17
http://www.lukey.co.nz/services/strategicplanning.html

Lyall Lukey  3 June 2017
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/

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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


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
https://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


The Education Cluster Bomb and the Parata Principle

October 1, 2012

 ”This will enable decisions about the schooling network to consider housing developments and surrounding infrastructure. It will also facilitate engagement with parents and learners to ensure they play a significant role in deciding the type of education provision that meets their community’s needs,”  Hekia Parata, Minister of Education

Engagement with parents and learners? What about principals and teachers?  More like enragement over the last fortnight because of the way the seismic shake up in education in greater Christchurch has been mismanaged.

There have been enough recent Big Brother announcements on the wider earthquake front without a Big Sister pronouncement to boot. Still feeling rather bruised and fragile, citizens have had to be passive recipients of recent proclamations on the 100 day Central City Recovery Plan, more residential red zoning and the off hand extension of the timeline within which democracy is going to be returned to regional government in Canterbury. The latest shock waves affect several schools, the hearts of their communities for young families and the not so young.

Missed the Cluetrain

As the tsunami of letters to The Press attests the natives are restless but not voiceless about “we know best” decisions, especially if information on which they are made is partly withheld rather than being fully shared. The Cluetrain Manifesto is now 17 years old but some organisations still haven’t got a clue.

Ministers like opening schools, not closing them-ask Trevor Mallard. But for obvious geological, geographic, and demographic reasons there has to be some major post quakes rationalization of education provision in the wider city, with 4400 unused desks.  Many families have left the region; others have moved west and teachers and resources have to follow.

It would be unreasonable to expect a continuation of the post quakes moratorium on staffing changes. Resources have to flow to where the people are now-and where they’ll be when the much vaunted rebuild gets into full gear, with more than 20,000  new workers in the city, many with families.

The sad thing is that the bungled announcement of the initiatives may have inoculated some school communities against some real education changes needed, earthquakes or no earthquakes.

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80–20 rule and the law of the vital few, states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The principle helps manage those things that really make a difference to results. Business management consultant Joseph Juran named the principle after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

The Parata Principle

The Parata Principle states that 20% of each Ministry of Education policy announcement will cause so much smoke and fury by the way it is arrived at and delivered that it will be difficult to see any virtues, let alone necessities, in the other 80%.

So it was with the withdrawn class size averaging proposal earlier in the year when the Minister was given a statistical hospital pass by her ministry. Parata initially said that about 90 per cent of schools would either gain or have a net loss of less than one full time equivalent teacher as a result of the combined effect of the changes, hardly justifying the-sky-is-falling-again response in some quarters, but omitted to point out the somewhat larger effects on the other 10%.

So it also was with Canterbury education shake up announcement on 13 September. 173 schools out of 215 were not affected by the announcement-exactly 80%.

Schools assembly
…Blue’s the colour of the sky In the mornin’ when we rise … Green’s the colour of the sparklin’ corn In the mornin’ when we rise…”
Colours  Donovan & Joan Baez 1965*

When they rose that morning, many principals had little idea of the scale of changes about to be detonated. As they arrived at the schools assembly to hear an announcement marred by confusion and mired in bureaucratic terminatorology, principals were given colour coded name tags according to whether their schools were in the proposed optional (or optional proposed) categories of purple “rejuvenate” ( eu-than-ase); orange “consolidate” and green “no change”. The use of colourful weasel words didn’t help schools given a Don’t Come 2013. The blues were soon on parade.

In a (very) mixed media combo consisting of a starter video, ministerial miniseries from Earthquake Minister Brownlee and Education Minister Hekia Parata, it was announced that 13 Christchurch schools would close and 18 could merge. Five Aranui schools would also combine into an education “cluster”. Since they are going to physically be on one site in Hampshire Street a “huddle” or “mob” would have been more appropriate.*

Then principals were then engaged in a DIY breakout activity Find out the Fate of Your School by flicking through the folder of bumf. Look there it is, right at the end!

Feedback and feedforward
”As we move from recovery to renewal, we have an opportunity to realign services with changing community needs and ensure our investment delivers better outcomes for learners and the wider community…’In line with community feedback, we are taking the time to get this right because the benefits to Christchurch and wider New Zealand are tremendous…”  Gerry Brownlee

Community feedback was just about to start, though a lot of people would have appreciated the opportunity for feedforward. Minister Parata said the region’s education sector and wider community had “signaled” support for new approaches to education and this included greater sharing of resources and capital. To achieve that, schools had been grouped into clusters based on their geographic location.

 The Thinking?
…Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinkin’.. Colours 

Just how much thought had gone into the proposals and where was the vision, the big picture? These had been the strengths of the rather draconian 100 Day Central City Plan V1 launched by Minister Brownlee only a few weeks earlier to reconfigure the city after the last of 1600 commercial buildings is demolished. While this was a totally top down process, it picked up on the earlier CCC run Share an Idea exercise in 2011 which allowed thousands of people to initiate ideas not merely respond to them. The 30 July CCDU launch had sold the big picture by articulating clear design principles without getting bogged down on the details, which included some tricky property time bombs.

Now the Earthquake Minister was telling the principals that the region’s education sector had experienced huge disruption since the earthquakes. This was not an entirely novel insight. It certainly had and the sector had shown great flexibility in coping, from site and resource sharing and running learning shifts to more use of mobile information technology.  Teachers and students at the electronic whiteboard and Blackboard face did very well: NCEA results for the region were outstanding despite the dislocation at home and at school.

The Education Minister followed by stating that a strong education system, from early childhood to tertiary, will be critical to the redevelopment of greater Christchurch and its economy in the wake of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011:
“This is why the Ministry of Education has worked with the community and the sector to develop a Plan for renewal that will meet the educational needs of children and young people, and support social, cultural and economic recovery.
This will involve an investment of up to one billion dollars to develop greater Christchurch as a leading education community positioned to set new standards of excellence in teaching, learning and research.
It also offers a unique opportunity to take an innovative course of action that will improve the delivery of education, extend the options available for learners, and lift student achievement.
The plan for education renewal considers the needs of Learning Community Clusters …”

Post quakes education in Canterbury has been a fascinating laboratory of locally generated ingenuity and innovation. John Laurenson, the Head of Shirley Boys’ High School had posted some innovative post quake ideas for education in East Christchurch on YouTube in June .* Three months later, as top down met bottom up head on like two colliding tectonic plates,  he was blindsided and blindfolded like several of his fellow principals.

Media management: out to launch?
How to set the Cat among the Pigeons and Scare the Horses 101

The devil wasn’t just in the detail, it was also flagged right up front in capital letters in the inept way the announcement was planned and executed in both its professional and media dimensions.

Media management or lack of it was all straight from the manual of How to set the Cat among the Pigeons and Scare the Horses 101, with no obvious  subsequent credits having being earned for the companion programme How to Shelter from Fallout from Panicked Pigeons and Bolted Horses 201.

There was confusion between firm “proposals” and various “options”. The inclusion of the “option” of possibly merging SBHS and CBHS –leaked by NBR and picked up by Stuff before the optimistic embargo expiry time-was rated an emphatic “Not Achieved” in Geography, History and School Culture and brought into question the credibility of other options and proposals (or were they proposed options and optional proposals?)

There had been two rounds of post-quakes education shake up meetings held over the last year or so with hand-picked people, but there seems to have been no meaningful segue to the Renewing Education in Greater Christchurch launch.

Some schools down for closure or amalgamation as firm proposals had prior briefing (a whole one hour prior to the launch), but not CBHS and SBHS, whose geotechnical status had not yet been made available.  Media management on the day fell short. The Ministry didn’t make it easy for participants and media to access online information in real time. In an age of mobile social media and 24/7 news outlets placing an unrealistic 4pm publication embargo only encouraged some media outlets to also go off half cocked while denying principals and Board of Trustees Chairs with the information to pass onto their colleagues.

Not in my schoolyard
“It’s sad for those schools that are involved in closing and merging and we’ve got to sit down, we’ve got to talk about how we can positively work with those proposals and ensure we’ve got a good strong, efficient, effective network for learning in Christchurch.”  Trevor McIntyre, Headmaster of Christchurch Boys’ High *

On Newstalk ZB  and Radio New Zealand the day after the announcement Trevor McIntyre said that while the shake up of Canterbury’s education sector will be difficult for many, a reassessment was needed. Before the announcement, he said, Christchurch principals had been fully aware of the need for changes in the region. But specific proposals for individual schools, he said, are a lot different than generalised discussion about change and renewal across the region.

Banks Avenue School could either be relocated or close as part of the proposals. Principal Murray Edlin said while it will be hard for many, the reorganisation is needed: “Because we’ve had an earthquake, there needed to be a reassessment of what the education provision is for Christchurch. What is really pleasing to see is that this is [only] a proposal, so it certainly gives us an opportunity to have some reaction to it.”*

Some of the other initial comments were less printable. The repercussions of the percussion were suddenly far wider than envisaged. Schools in the west and elsewhere were now on Death Row, not just those in the more affected east.

That Certain Feeling? No Minister

“Christchurch has been very tired but I think suddenly there is a new energy and feel … “I expected people would get upset but we had to give certainty and that’s what we’ve done,” Education Mininster Hekia Parata.

Expectations are very important in education. The Minister ensured that hers were self-fulfilled by managing to simultaneously panic parents, alarm students and irritate principals- the whole trifecta- and provoke calls to the ramparts with banners and posters trivialising the issues but providing a useful steam releasing valve for people sick off fighting earthquake battles and wanting their children’s schools to be havens of normalcy in the new post quakes  abnormal .

In the following days she wouldn’t be drawn on whether schools targeted for closure or amalgamation could hold onto hope. “We’re going to go through a process,… The point of consultation is to explain why their schools are on the proposal . . . hear what people have to say, for them to hear the detail, and then to reach a decision.”

The overhaul was “definitely, emphatically, unequivocally not a cost-cutting measure”. But to fit new needs surely it’s very appropriate for it to be at least a cloth cutting exercise, though one which appreciates the role of schools, especially in rural areas since they are often the last vestige of community now the post offices, the general store and the local church have closed. The same hold true in some suburbs.

Follow Up to Launch
“We have relied on your feedback during consultation on the Education Renewal Recovery Programme ‘Directions for Education Renewal in greater Christchurch’ Lesley Longstone, Ministry of Education Secretary

The Secretary featured two days after the launch in a full page Press ad looking inordinately cheerful in what could have been an old colour holiday snap. At least it was  in red and black. Entitled “To the people of greater Christchurch” the ad started: “As you will have seen or heard, the Government is investing up to ONE BILLION dollars in the renewal of education across greater Christchurch”.

ONE BILLION. What a capital idea! The timeframe of 10 years wasn’t mentioned and it’s not clear how much of this is new money.

 The secret  in strategy formulation is the sequence. Rather than the stages of Preparation, Response, Recovery and Renewal in terms of handling a natural disaster there is the clumsy omnibus concept “Education Renewal Recovery Programme” which scrambled the scale of changes and timelines for implementation. It all seemed rather confused not focused. Opportunities for some broadbased professional and community prior input would have been good, not just feedback.

The next day I couldn’t find anything on the MinEdu site pointing to the announcements, though Saturday’s ad provided an obviously non-hyperlinked url.*  Parata’s  subsequent “stepping back” clarification was a belated exercise in barn door closure. Since Announcement Day a flurry of phone calls, meetings and revised consultative time-lines has brought much less certainty than the Minister averred.

Over a fortnight later a letter regarding the now revised consultation period was hand delivered to the principals of affected schools last Friday. The next day there was a new Press ad under the heading Greater Christchurch Education Renewal (no mention of recovery now): “More community consultation-the next step for schools proposed to be merged or closed.”

More?  I didn’t know we had had any yet.  At least there is now a more realistic timeline for the “consultation process”. Each affected school is left to run its own process “in the way that best suits their school and their school community.”  If they want assistance Minedu will pay for an independent facilitator. “This is your chance to influence what happens.”  Not much chance of that with an atomised process but better late than never I suppose.

Beyond the Status quo

People will support what they help to create.” Marvin Weisbord

With the shift in population westwards from the munted east, there had to be more than a degree of rationalization in the provision of education in the wider city. The issues in the west, especially in Selwyn County-where the launch meeting was held-are about handling population expansion already happening apace pre quakes and accelerating since. Scaling up not scaling down is the challenge there.

The Minister’s statement that there is the opportunity to make education in Christchurch better, not just restore the status quo is fair enough, even if it got lost on the day. While some people fear a New Orleans post Katrina privatisation of education in Christchurch, given the scale of the challenges, not to mention the run on Banks, the Charter or “Partnership” school concept is a horse of the stalking rather than the Trojan variety.

This is not the time to merely paper over the physical and metaphorical cracks in education in the region. This is the opportunity to build deep and strong new foundations for differently configured learning communities based on strengthening present and new communities as they respond to seismic and other shocks, including fully coming to terms with the mobile digital revolution and with the implications of a new understanding of the principles and practices of effective learning and teaching from the work of Christchurch educator the late Graham Nuthall  and others.

It is also an opportunity to and explore new methods of governance and the sharing of educational plant and overheads both within learning clusters and with other community organisations. Many schools would benefit from sharing overheads: keeping the professional autonomy bestowed by the original Charter Schools 23 years ago but working more collegially in clusters to share resources and ideas and looking at new forms of governance and overhead cost sharing by taking the burden of property maintenance and other administration off individual principals and boards of trustees so schools can focus on the 20% of the causal factors which leads to 80% of learning outcomes.

 Not Clusters Last Stand
“If you don’t like change you’ll like irrelevance even less”.

Earthquakes or not, all learning communities throughout the country should all be open to self-generated efforts to give 1950’s educational arrangements a shake up in a more mobile and connected age with quite different cultural dynamics.

There is a unique opportunity to pick up on some of the exciting experiments post quakes generated by school communities themselves and sometimes facilitated by regional Ministry of Education people, rather than foisted on them from Head Office.

The challenge is to make the shotgun clusters viable while still keeping community identities. Large school aggregations such as that proposed for Aranui will be like scaled up rural area schools in the city. But, whatever the savings through facility and resource sharing, for many small is beautiful. More than 150 in any community and the social dynamics change markedly.

Distributing the Future
”The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”. William Gibson

The shame is that the furious furore resulting from the patronizing approach may inoculate some people against a measured and timely response to the demographic and geographic shifts caused by the four major Canterbury quakes and to the real changes needed in teaching and learning, education governance and leadership focused on diverse learning provision appropriate to the second decade of the third millennium not the 1950s..

Of course, some schools are already there and the key to their success is organic self-generated professional development attuned both to the local community and national imperatives. 

MinEdu Report Card: Not Achieved
“The ministry must improve the analysis; the poorest papers lacked a clear problem definition or a coherent framework and failed in identifying major risks,”… Review of the Ministry of Education by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

There are lingering question marks over the performance of the Ministry of Education. An independent review of the ministry’s policy advice about the time Hekia Parata took over suggests a third of its papers are “poor or borderline” and only one-tenth are “good”. The results were no better than an earlier review in 2007.  Papers from the Ministry needed to be “far shorter” and “less repetitive”. Policy advice in the Ministry was graded low. “The ministry should act as a trusted adviser, recommending the best option rather than – more often than not – asking the minister to pick from a long list of options.”*

English import Education Secretary Lesley Longstone was expected to shake things up when she started in 2011.   Parata, also new to the job of Education Minister, said then: “I’ve made my expectations really clear to the new secretary about what it is I want and the pace at which I want it,”… “I’m driving in a particular direction and I need the support and the information and the reliable data in order to be able to do that.” …. My role is to tell her what my expectations are, what success is going to look like, what that means in terms of accountabilities for her.” *

The Ministry of Education needs to accept responsibility at the top level for a poorly orchestrated launch and learn from it. When it comes to dealing with both professionals and the public  it seems that the EQC demonstrates more EQ than the Ministry of Education. More importantly there are also big question marks over the substance of the proposals in terms of their formation and their strategic articulation.

Two successive glitches in the last 3 weeks with the new education payroll, which cost schools throughout the country lots of extra administration time, didn’t help the Ministry’s credibility. But what is needed more than efficiency is effectiveness. Perhaps its time to inject some more new people into the Ministry of Education. Some local Christchurch principals, who are demonstrating beyond their own patch leadership qualities in the present kerfuffle, commend themselves as likely candidates who could balance calls for top down change with an appreciation of the need for bottom up engagement.

Bottoms up to bottom up!

Did I just hear a (very faint) cry of Bring back Anne Tolley…?

*Blinks

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7675704/Principals-in-tears-as-ministry-swings-axe
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0O87fFRizZY   Vid  Colours Donovan & Joan Baez Classic 1965 recording. Worth a play! 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/7678838/Cluster-schools-out-of-left-field
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7669918/13-Canterbury-schools-to-close-18-to-merge
http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry.aspx   Find the MinEdu’s change paper
http://shapingeducation.minedu.govt.nz   Oh here it is.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7682703/Little-hope-of-Canterbury-school-plan-backdown
http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/regch/792333415-earthquakes-forced-education-rethink—principals
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/6869627/Staff-being-lost-in-big-reforms-of-Education-Ministry
http://www.ssc.govt.nz/sites/all/files/pif-moe-review-june2011.PDF   Review of Ministry of Education
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwtm2-S95xg  John Laurenson, SBHS Principal. Earlier innovative post quake ideas 11/6/12
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/7690199/Schools-lodge-Waitangi-Tribunal-complaints
http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/7712305/Cooperative-people-quicker-to-act 

#Lyall Lukey 1 October 2012
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https: //bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog

 


Ex Cathedral: The Bishop’s Opening (and Closing) Gambit

May 31, 2012

The various bodies that have made the decision for the diocese have determined that we will take a conservative approach, and we will look after safety as a priority.” Gavin Holley COO Christchurch Anglican Diocese*

Conservative? Not as people at the Cathedral demo demo last Saturday understand the term, including the protestor with a T-shirt emblazoned with “Destruction con”. They are calling for a tea break in the “deconstruction” of Christ Church Cathedral to consider alternatives before there are no options- and very little cathedral-left.

On YouTube there is a nostalgic 2009 time lapse video* of the large chess set in play in Christchurch’s Square, with the Cathedral reassuringly in the background.*

The graphic video* captured by a Japanese tourist Mr Shogo Asawa just a few months later, seconds after the Cathedral’s spire speared into the ground during the fierce earthquake of 22 February 2011, shows the chess men toppled like the statue of John Robert Godley as dust billowed and shocked bystanders tried to make sense of what they had just experienced.

15 months later, in the now denuded inner city, more than 770 commercial buildings having already been demolished, with a further 1800 plus on death row, including the centrepiece Anglican Cathedral. These numbers will probably rise if in-progress engineering evaluations deem buildings irreparable or insurers rule them uneconomic to repair.

In recent weeks the Anglican Church has been playing lightning chess with the deconstruction of the Cathedral after Bishop Victoria Matthews played her early gambit about “making the Cathedral safe”.

The aggressive Bishop’s Gambit is one of the oldest chess openings on record, showing up about the same time as Galileo was supposedly dropping two balls of different masses off the Tower of Pisa.

423 years later, in an affair with a different kind of gravity, Bishop Matthews who has been accused of dropping the ball now that the remainder of the Tower of Christ Church Cathedral has been dropped, with the rest of the historic building due to be taken down to a height of 2-3 metres pending further developments.

Rule number 1 of gambit chess is that you play for higher goals than just regaining or retaining material. Not much Cathedral building material has been retained so far: the machines used have been gobblers not nibblers. With the tower down it may be easier to deconstruct rather than destroy, but don’t hold your breath.

There have been some belated white knight moves in response to the Bishop’s opening gambit and rooks are waiting on the fringes ready to pounce, but the pawns have been sidelined. It is like a waiting move at chess-the one you have to make first to open up the end game play. But what is the big game plan and what are the lines of defence for Black?

Deconstructionism

In an advertisement in The Press last week, the Wizard of New Zealand, (channelled by Ian Brackenbury Channell), says Bishop Victoria Matthews “will be deconstructed” at a rally outside the Canterbury Museum last Sunday.

More bishopbludgeon than bishopric the Wizard announced that “I have examined the Bishop’s foundations and have discovered that they are built on sand. She is in a very dangerous state, being seriously cracked, and I can see no evidence that she can be made safe.”

He calls her “as dull and bland as her beloved Cardboard Cathedral”, but refers to himself modestly as having “attractive Gothic features”.

Some do indeed see in the irrepressible Wizard’s visage unmistakeable gargoyle like features; others more unkind mutter bats in the belfry but the Wizard from Oz is not to be taken lightly in debate even if his Janus-faced Volkswagen makes it difficult to know whether he’s coming or going.

Echoing her words regarding the Cathedral, he stresses that the Bishop’s deconstruction would be carefully done in order to rescue the real treasure within.

His derision is derived from Derrida. The term “deconstruction” was coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book Of Grammatology . Derrida opted for deconstruction over the literal translation of Martin Heidegger’s concept of Destruktion to suggest “precision” rather than “violence”, though when it comes to the Cathedral some may be quite happy with the original term.

Deconstructionism is a philosophical theory of literary and other artistic criticism. It has been described as “a tendency to subvert or pull apart and examine existing conventions having to do with meaning and individualism.”[1]

Christ Church Cathedral is certainly being pulled apart-and so is the good citizenry of Christchurch, with two more demo demos coming up. The issues are by no means black or white.

Anglican minister Philip Robinson has spoken in defence of Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews, who he says has taken the brunt of “vicious accusations, anger and abuse”. There has certainly been a lot of playing the woman not the ball and a fair bit of No Minister in both the political and ecclesiastical settings.

It was revealed last week that what remained of the tower needed to be taken down quickly. The remainder will be deconstructed, with the blocks numbered, so that they are available for the possibility of a rebuild in the future. Until such time as the rebuild is possible, the site will be made into a place of reflection and prayer.

The decision to demolish the Cathedral, which has been made following a “make safe” request from CERA. However, the speed of the demolition process has caught many people, apparently including CERA’s Roger Sutton, by surprise.

The notion of carefully numbered stones, being reverently placed back in the jigsaw box for later rejoining is a little ludicrous. We’re not talking about chess pieces being returned to the chess box ready for the next game..

New City Councillor Peter Beck, the former Dean of the Cathedral, was one of 4 who voted against the recent Christchurch City Council motion passed to ask the Anglican Church to halt the demolition to provide time for reflection and reconsideration.* “The cathedral that was was an icon of the city that was”. He wants a new Cathedral that “will pay due homage and respect to the past that we value so much and build for the future, embracing and symbolizing the future city we dream of…”

The dialogue with the public about the future cathedral has really only started after the Anglican Synod got some belated parish priest and parish pump traction four weeks ago.

A favorite chess tactic is the often surprising and usually quite elegant Diversion. Just when everything seems to be as it should, one move exposes the truth which is that things aren’t exactly as they seem.

But it does seem that the end game is nigh. There will be few pieces left on the inner city chess board. The centre piece is about to bite the dust. But don’t dismiss the importance at this stage of the game of the humble pawns. Bishop and pawn versus knight and pawns endings can be interesting.

*Blinks
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91VRWtgS99o Chess-time links photo 2009
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2SWleuCgn0 Second after the February 2010 Christchurch quake
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/6802337/Church-promises-dialogue http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6816651/Cathedral-files-released
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch-earthquake-2011/6846722/Christ-Church-Cathedral-tower-nearly-gone
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/6940947/Councillors-ask-for-cathedral-demolition-halt
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/6943458/Anderton-backs-cathedral-rally
www.savecanterburyheritage.org.nz/

#Lyall Lukey 31 May 2012
http://www.lukey.co.nz/ http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog


CPIT Strikers On Shaky Ground

August 7, 2011

“It is regrettable for students that this action has been taken on the first day of semester two given the disruptions they have already faced so far this year…We are offering what we consider to be more than fair conditions and a 6% across the board pay rise over two years. “
 Patsy Gibson  CPIT Director of Human Resources

Last Monday was the first day of the second semester at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, in an academic year already disrupted by earthquakes and their aftermath.

But the vacation wasn’t over for some staff and students. About 30 classes at the CPIT were cancelled  when some staff walked off the job for the day with no prior warning, leaving their students to their own devices (which some may find more interesting anyway).
 
Tertiary Education Union-led staff were protesting against proposals by the CPIT management, still in negotiation, for a more flexible workload which may involve some staff teaching more hours on more days of the year.

TEU organiser Phil Dodds said about 96 per cent of the 60 members at a paid stopwork meeting on the Monday morning-interesting timing- voted to take industrial action and 75 per cent voted to strike immediately. The union has 230 members at the polytechnic out of a total of 1329 staff, but neither the union or CPIT management seems to know how many took part in the precipitate action*. Obviously no one took the roll.

Dodds said that taking immediate action “sent a strong message” to CPIT management. It certainly did: that it was dealing with a dinosaur that was prepared to treat students dismissively in a year already fragmented.

It also sent a message to non-members of the TEU, many of whom might like to view themselves as professionals able to argue a convincing case, rather than a pedagogic proletariat which needs to be manipulated by union organisers using anachronistic cloth cap tactics.

CPIT chief executive Kay Giles said the polytechnic had tried to minimise disruption to students, and fewer than 30 afternoon and night classes had been cancelled. She said she was keen to continue negotiations with the union. I would have thought that she would have added the caveat “if they eschew silly stunts like striking”, which are counterproductive and simply disrupt and alienate students and their parents and others who may otherwise be more sympathetic.

Meanwhile Dodds said that the union hoped to meet with CPIT management on this coming week, but “further strike action was possible”.

The TEU obviously hasn’t learnt from the PPTA’s clumsy salary negotiations during 2010 and 2011, which were also preceded by the threat of “industrial action” before they even started.*

After an unnecessarily drawn out negotiation process, featuring unrealistic demands by the PPTA and  punctuated by walkouts and no talkies, a “paid stopwork meeting” was scheduled for 1pm on 22 February. The lethal Christchurch quake got in first by 9 minutes, before the PPTA meeting started in the now badly damaged Christchurch Town Hall.

Those teachers actually at school–mainly primary teachers-did a great job handling their pupils during the destructivel quake and its immediate aftermath. No child in the care of Christchurch schools died or was seriously injured. 

However, hundreds of secondary teachers were not at school and nor were many of their students. At least one secondary school pupil, who would normally have been at school and in the care of the school, was a tragic quake victim. It was reported at the time that he had gone to the inner city because school was finished for the day because of the PPTA meeting

At the same time, as I observed in my slow drive from my office in the CBD, many other secondary pupils were out and about on the streets unsupervised. They used their ubiquitous cell-phones to good advantage and sorted themselves out, with the help of parents and others, including teachers not attending the stopwork meeting.

Many Christchurch learning communities, from early childhood to tertiary, have responded magnificently to the challenges thrown up by close to 8,000 quakes in almost 12 months. Site-sharing, resource sharing, flexible time-tabling, a mix of working from home and teaching in temporary class spaces, sometimes canvas, have all helped to keep a strong routine going in a time of crisis.

Old ways of thinking and traditional ways of doing things no longer cut it in the “new abnormal”. As a new organization at the early childhood stage the TEU needs to take a good look at its modus operandi and grow up quickly before it sidelines itself by inappropriate strategies and actions.

In an age where social media partly redresses the balance of power formerly wielded by the mass and crass media, there are plenty of more effective ways to articulate a case than the blunt, prematurely wielded strike weapon, as the recent Playcentre protests showed*.

But theatre and publicity stunts need to be accompanied by a strong case well argued in live and virtual forums which mobilises public support rather than alienating it by engaging people in intelligent and productive dialogue.

*Blinks
http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/5371483/ChCh-polytech-staff-walk-out
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/5354328/CPIT-teachers-mull-strike 
https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/secondary-symptoms-can-the-ppta-dinosaur-adapt/ 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/5357106/Playcentre-takes-on-Parliament         

 #Lyall Lukey 7 Aug 2011
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog


The Kahui Hooha-a King Hit?

July 9, 2011

“I think they’ve gone weak at the knees … We sell Mein Kampf by Hitler and the Communist Manifesto. You can buy any range of books. People have chosen this one and it’s really because of cyber-bullying.” Ian Wishart, author of Breaking Silence: The Kahui Case

Breaking silence? For some people it was more like breaking wind. Just the news of Ian Wishart’s impending book Breaking Silence on the Kahui case and its timing caused blogospherical hysteria which led to the Warehouse and Paper Plus to put a ban on stocking the book, sight unseen.

However, the Whitcoulls bookstore chain, or what’s left of it, took a more measured approach: “a decision on whether to stock the book will be made once the book has been completed and Whitcoulls has been able to evaluate its contents. Until then it is premature to make any further comment.” *

It was full term for the omniscient Mike Hoskins who declared on TV 1’s Close Up* that he didn’t need to read it to know what’s in it.  His instant intuition and uncanny mindreading ability renders Speed Reading obsolete and will save many trees. 

Journalist Wishart is writing the book, with some help from Macsyna King, the mother of twins Chris and Cru Kahui who died in 2006 in unexplained circumstances.  There are no royalties coming King’s way: three pieces of pizza and the opportunity to tell her story are her only reward for collaborating.

From the Inquisition to the Third Reich and beyond,  book burning and book banning-and sometimes author barbequeing-were the inflammatory tactics used by the powers that were to keep their ideologies intact.

In this case the book banning bandwaggon was driven by social media-little brothers and sisters, not Big Brother. Publicity about the impending book at the time of the delayed coronial enquiry into the death of the twins ignited a new Facebook group urging people not to buy it. The Macsyna was definitely not going to become the new ballroom craze in 2011.

But according to Wishart  “She wants the same thing that 50,000 people on Facebook want. She wants answers and she wants people to learn from the mistakes that she’s made and she wants people to see how quickly a life can slip into hell and what you need to do to bring it back.”

 Wishart says that his book is a biographical narrative, beginning with King’s early life and how she started going off the rails.

Families Commissioner Christine Rankin told the Close Up  programme New Zealanders need to read the book because the problem of child abuse was so serious that a better understanding was needed. “Most people go home to their ordered house and their ordered lives and they think most people live like that. There are thousands and thousands of New Zealanders that do not.”

There wasn’t even a conviction for drunk and disorderly in the Kahui case after family ranks closed in misguided loyalty.   After Chris Kahui’s acquittal King is the only real alternative if police decide to charge someone after the inquest into the deaths. Kahui’s acquittal on murder charges in 2008 protects him from further prosecution.

Child abuse in New Zealand is a national shame.  A 2004 UNICEF report 2004 on Child Maltreatment put this country third from bottom of OECD countries.  In each year of the 1990s there was an average of more than 3,000 known cases of neglect, sexual abuse or violence against children. The figures for this century won’t be any better.

For that reason Wishart’s new book  shouldn’t be banned; it should be required reading, with a compulsory short answer test.

Anything that puts the spotlight on child abuse through neglect and violence and reminds us of the sad roll call of dead children like Lillybing*, Nia Glassie* and the Kahui twins should be welcomed not proscribed.

#Feel free to add a comment below and share this post.
*Blinks
http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/christine-rankin-read-kahui-book-4279316/video   Vid
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/5221017/Whitcoulls-no-decision-on-Kahui-book
http://tvnz.co.nz/back-benches/ban-book-should-required-reading-july-1-4280232 
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=195265 Lillybing counts – excuses don’t
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nia_Glassie_abuse_case 
http://cholmondeley.org.nz/

#Lyall Lukey 9 July 2011
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz 
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog