Digital Divides, Dividends and Dangers -The Key Role of Education

May 15, 2019

FACEBOOK-INTERFACEBOOK

[First published on Education Central on 12 May 2019.]

The March Christchurch terrorist attack has prompted more urgent debate about the policing of social media sites. In a digital world awash with information and misinformation educators are more important than ever as knowledge navigators. Two parts of education for each part of regulation is the way forward according to Lyall Lukey, Convener of July’s Education Leaders Forum Digital Divides, Dividends & Dangers 

 Connecting and Ensnaring
“Never has there been a greater need to invest in national digital resilience, capability and protection as there is today.” Don Christie, MD, Catalyst IT

The speed and scope of the transformation of the communication environment by the Internet has transformed the way we live, learn and work. There are around 60 billion webpages.  As well as problems of variable accuracy, the sheer amount of online information available is overwhelming.

Electronic threads both connect and ensnare us. The democracy of the web – the opportunity for individuals to access information and have a voice online – is a double-edged sword.

The Wild West Web
“The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.”  Sir Tim Berners-Lee

30 years ago Berners-Lee created the “public” internet, aka the World Wide Web as an information-sharing tool with a free source code: an “open and democratic platform for all.”

Three decades on, with smart phones, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Trademe, Instagram and Netflix, it’s hard to imagine a world without the internet.  Associated digital advances in A.I. and engineering have made Science Fiction Science Fact.

The extent to which the internet distorts information as much as it shares it, which was the original utopian hope, has become painfully obvious in the age of President Donald Trump.

Strewth!
“President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims.” Washington Post 29/4/19

In our so-called post-truth age, according to US-based former Google engineer Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Centre for Humane Technology, we are caught in a race to the bottom of the brain stem. Big IT platforms have been upgrading technology but downgrading humanity by shortening attention spans, rewarding outrage over dialogue, addicting children (and adults), and  turning life into a competition for likes and shares.

The trick is to balance access via connected digital devices with the mediating power of human cognition via every learner’s free spinetop computer.    

Some worship digital technology, especially that in the palm of their hand. Others demonise it as a dark electronic satanic mill grinding out mental opiates for profit, distorting world views and enabling electronic surveillance apps for political control.

The dynamic balance lies somewhere between. Edtech is a key ingredient but neither the beginning nor the end of a balanced learning diet.

Regulation and Education
 “…our relationship with tech has both been darker and more muddy because it becomes increasingly clear that all the bright and shiny positive potentials of tech are at the risk of being darkened by forced misuse of data… Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner

After years of largely unregulated growth, in 2018 the worm started to turn against Facebook, Google and other online platforms that compete for our attention and personal details.   Now regulators are closing in.

The live streaming video of the Christchurch terrorist attack, watched by many local students during the lockdown period, has prompted more urgent debate about the policing of social media sites.

12 years after the launch of the iPhone changed the digital game irrevocably it’s high time to strike a better balance between the very real upsides and the obvious downsides of digital life and learning. Two parts of education for every one part of regulation is the way forward.

Educators as Knowledge Navigators
“Technology and social media continue to disrupt education. Classrooms are morphing into maker spaces; STEM labs and media centres are filled with fascinating electronic gadgets. Teachers spend less time in front of the class and more time in the middle of the action”. 10 Big Ideas in Education.

Society has been reshaped and the world of work is changing irrevocably in terms of what is done, where and by whom, with huge implications for education and training.  Educators feel the depth of change but can be also overwhelmed by it.

Information and misinformation travel at the speed of light – not so knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is power; data and information are just ingredients.

In a world awash with digital data it is important to affirm that educators are more important than ever as knowledge navigators, the education equivalent of Shackleton’s Kiwi navigator Frank Worsley.

This puts the emphasis on critical search and interpretative skills to improve the quality of written, oral and visual communication.

Blended learning combining active teaching methodologies and online learning appears to improve students’ engagement  and produce better learning outcomes

The issue is not just teaching teachers more about learning technology; rather it is them learning to let go of their gatekeeper control of information and use their coaching skills to facilitate the search for information, the acquisition of knowledge and the development of other skills.

As well as presentation, group learning and DIY tools, edtech helps teachers facilitate and track personalised education programmes, with individual goals and pathways, for what Jude Barback calls the Fidgetal Generation .

Digital Divides
 “The internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity.” Barack Obama

Access to technology and digital skills have become increasingly essential for people to fully participate in society and the economy. The poor and low skilled are being left behind in the digital world.

According to the Digital Inclusion Research Group about 100,000 New Zealanders don’t have access to the internet. That equates to about 15 per cent of families, but in some places it’s likely to be 50 per cent or more.

ELF19 speaker Arnika Macphail , Greater Christchurch Schools’ Network will focus on equitable digital access for students by telling the story of Project ConnectED, a collective effort to connect students and whānau to their education from home.

As well as digital access there also needs to be a shift to building and assessing digital capability. While many young people are confident using digital technologies for social purposes, a large number do not appear to have the skills necessary for productive work.

New Technology Curriculum from 2020
“This change signals the need for greater focus on our students building their skills so they can be innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies.”  New Zealand Curriculum-Technology

The Ministry of Education has revised the Technology learning area to strengthen the positioning of Digital Technologies in the New Zealand Curriculum. Schools will be expected to fully integrate this into their curriculum by the start of 2020.

The goal is to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to become digitally capable individuals.

Digital Dividends
“Ideas that would have previously would have only lived in the printed word…may now find better expression in the app, the blog, the game and the website.” Michael Lascarides

Teachers and learners have unprecedented access to a wide range of stimulating learning resources, many on quality attested sites.  Digital pearls of information don’t have to be cultivated from scratch, but can be easily re-threaded and re-purposed.

The digital transformation of life enables what Dr Peter Smith calls “free range learning”. With educators as guides and meaning makers, learners and earners can take charge of their learning and career destinies.

The goal is to integrate technology into classroom learning and out of class projects in ways which optimise its positive benefits and minimise its harmful effects.

Doing it the Kiwi way
“We just have to be smart about what we’re doing and focus on doing it the Kiwi way.”
Don Christie,  MD  Catalyst

Several ELF19 speakers will demonstrate digital dividends in a learning context.

Phil Ker, C E Otago Polytechnic’s opening keynote is on Integrating Learning and Work in the Digital Age. It  will pick up on the fast evolving vocational education and training landscape and cover challenges, benefits, tools and a micro-credential qualification mechanism.

Nicola Ngarewa, Principal Spotswood College  will share the transformative journey from a traditional learning context to a future focused educational model based on her experience of leading this shift in two different schools– an underperforming decile 1 area school, and a high performing decile 5 traditional high school.

Mike Hollings, C E Te Kura speaks on the school’s transformative shift to online provision in order to greatly enhance teaching and learning in terms of access, engagement and learner agency via the use of digital technology. Students engage in real life learning opportunities with their passions and interests at the centre.

Dr Phil Silva, Founding Director of the Dunedin Longitudinal Study, provides changing technology insights into the research evolution of the world renowned Dunedin Study. He also shares tips to help people employ, enjoy and survive new technology.

Previewing the real world
 “… the education system… doesn’t prepare students for the real world. .. students are letting a world of opportunity slip by, as they leave high school completely unaware of how our world is rapidly changing…” William Reynolds   Open letter to educators: please prepare us better for the real world

Other ELF19 speakers will give registrants insights into innovative digital  learning developments.
Cheryl Adams, CEO of Animation Research   founded by Ian Taylor,  Innovator of the Year, is passionate about introducing tamariki to the opportunities that tech opens up for them. Together with Jimmy McLauchlan, Methodist Mission South, she will demonstrate some Virtual Reality Learning Tools aimed at improving literacy and other skills for those in prison.

Hilary O’Connor, Director of Technical Sales, Soul Machines, will introduce and demonstrate a new type of Artificial Intelligence called Experiential Learning and the world’s first Digital Brain™. Soul Machines is radically humanising technology, enabling “digital beings” to accumulate experiences, learn and respond emotionally.

Paul Stevens, GM  Open Knowledge group, Catalyst IT, provides revealing insights into IT Innovation, opportunities for Generation Z and lessons for educators. Catalyst has implemented some of the world’s largest Learning Management Systems using open source technologies to compete internationally and outsmart larger competitors.

Fraser Liggett , Economic Development Manager, Enterprise Dunedin overviews Education-Business links and outlines the evolving plans for a Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) in Dunedin which will build on the city’s digital strengths, particularly in game and app development and education and training.

Digital Dangers
“We are fundamentally changing the way kids think and the way their brains develop.” Dr Jim Taylor, author of Raising Generation Tech.

All technologies bring benefits and problems. The new technologies of today spread faster and affect more people more quickly.  The business models which support a largely free and open connected world and enable technology to empower themselves can also be used for unscrupulous purposes.

There is growing evidence of some inherent dangers.  All learning communities need to develop strategies to support the development of online safety and wellbeing.

Technology Binging
“We all know that carrots and broccoli are good for our health, but would you spend your whole day eating them?  Anything in excess has its downsides, yet many of us seem happy to binge on technology.” 
Tech Diet BBC

Just as there are healthy foods, super foods and junk foods, there are several types of technology. If we want a healthy relationship with them, we need to understand how they impact our brains. Some experts argue that certain online games are like junk food and should be used more sparingly by still developing young brains.

ELF19 Day 2 speaker Dr Mary Redmayne, an Independent Researcher at Monash and Victoria Universities, will address the dangers of screen overuse. She points out that in less than ten years most mobile phones have moved from being phone-call and texting devices to an indispensable, instant-access remote source of information, social connection and entertainment.

For many people the immediacy and ‘rewards’ increasingly over-ride the very real need for face-to-face interactions, outdoor exercise and time with nature.

Smartphone addiction
“…We are all just prisoners here of our own device.” 
  Eagles “Hotel California” 1977 prophecy?

There is a growing body of evidence on the addictive, brain changing power of digital technology. Psychologists are learning how dangerous smartphones can be for teenage brains. Research has found that a young teenager’s risk for depression jumps 27% when social media is used frequently.

Teachers should not just leave learners to their own devices. In a classroom setting they are simply tools to be used appropriately to search, learn and produce.

Online Safety and Wellbeing Strategies
“…today’s complex digital landscape… offers young people incredible learning and social opportunities… with increasing prolific use of online platforms and digital technologies, the likelihood of risks and challenges arising also increases. ” Angela Webster, OnLine Safety Adviser, Netsafe

Netsafe’s Angela Webster will underline for ELF participants the need for all learning communities to develop preventive and responsive strategies to support students’ online safety and wellbeing and the development of digital citizenship.

Handling Fake News and Flaky Views
“The Christchurch shooting tragedy underlines the role of education in tackling prejudice and hate in social media and other online contexts…” A/Prof. Donald Matheson, UC

Educating young people to stay safe and not do harm is important, but just as important is educating them about how to participate and share constructively online, listen across differences, think critically and access credible sources of information.

Donald Matheson Head of Media and Communications, University of Canterbury, will show ELF19 participants how the  Christchurch shooting tragedy underlines the role of education in handling online information critically and tackling prejudice and hate in social media and other online contexts by demonstrating the links between hateful comments and action.

Adaptive Leadership
“When life itself is changing dramatically, so must we and so must the learning process.” 
Leon E Panetta quoted in Dr Peter Smith’s Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age

To lead credibly and effectively education leaders need to keep adapting..

The 2018 KPMG New Zealand CEO Outlook Survey suggests that New Zealand CEOs understand the challenge, with 98 percent positively viewing digital transformation as an opportunity rather than a threat. However 64 percent acknowledge that their organisation is struggling to keep pace with technology innovation.

It’s unlikely that the situation is any better across the education sectors.

There is a widespread need for leadership which is adaptive, collaborative, distributed and based on BES leadership principles .

Education leaders need to understand not just the technological side of leading change but also the cultural side in order to harness the edtech knowledge of their colleagues, their students and their community.

In the words of Jeffrey R. Anderson: “We have another chance to navigate, perhaps in a slightly different way than we did yesterday. We cannot go back. But we can learn.”

Lyall Lukey, Convener, Education Leaders Forums

 

Education Leaders Forum 2019 Digital Divides, Dividends & Dangers Dunedin 17/18 July
Otago Polytechnic  -Principal Sponsor, Te Kura-Sponsor, Enterprise Dunedin-Supporter.

 


LIFE PASSAGES & LEARNING PATHS

April 28, 2017

 ELF 17 Rotorua Web
“Why can’t they be like we were,
Perfect in every
way?                                                                     
What’s the matter with kids today?”
Kids – Bye Bye Birdie                                                 

Why are young people like they are? What can we do so they can do better? Some key answers will be provided at Education Leaders Forum 2017  Life Passages & Learning Paths, to be held in Rotorua on 23 & 24 August.

ELF17 is about making a positive difference to individuals and their communities by understanding life shaping developmental and environmental factors and path changers in the journey from infancy to adulthood.

Key research findings

The forum will pick up on key research findings from world leading New Zealand longitudinal studies. These include the University of Otago’s Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study founded by Dr Phil Silva. This internationally renowned study examines the progressive results of ongoing research into the lives of 1,000 New Zealanders born 46 years ago in Dunedin.

Other relevant findings will come from the University of Auckland’s Growing Up in New Zealand study which is keeping tabs on the growth and development of initially 6,000+ children from a variety of ethnicities. The study aims to improve the lives of their generation and answer the fundamental question: What makes us who we are?

Cross-Sector Collaboration

The 2017 forum will be the eleventh in an annual series involving Education leaders and aspiring leaders from across the learning spectrum from early childhood to post-tertiary education. It will also be highly relevant for those working with children, youth and families in Social Welfare, Health and Justice agencies.

Speakers from different sectors will explain how collaboratively those who work with children and young people can help influence the choice of individual learning and earning pathways for the better and draw on support networks when intervention is needed at different life stages. Better life trajectories, based on individual talents, passions and personalised goals, add up to better outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

Stimulating Speakers

Speakers include Dr Phil Silva , Founder and Past Director, Dunedin Longitudinal Study; Ass. Prof. Susan Morton,  Director, Centre for Longitudinal Research, University of Auckland; Dr Reremoana (Moana) Theodore , Co-Director, National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR); Dr John Langley ONZM, Strategic Lead- Evidence Informed Practice, Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki; Ass.Prof. Nicola Atwool, Social Work Programme, Dept of Sociology, University of Otago; Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee, Chief Education Advisor, Ministry of Education; Dr Annelies Kamp; Ass. Prof. Leadership, College of Education, University of Canterbury; Dr Craig Jones, Dep. Sec. Evidence, Data and Knowledge, Ministry of Education; Sue Blair, Director, Personality Dynamics Ltd; Jackie Talbot, General Manager, Secondary-Tertiary Group, Ministry of Education;  Dr Gaye Tyler-Merrick, Coordinator: PGDip.Ed (endorsed in Positive Behaviour Support), UC and Dr John Boereboom, Director, CEM (NZ) – Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring.

See Programme as at 21/6/17

Making a real difference for children

ELF17 will have a strong strand linked to the aims of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki. It is also relevant to learners at all levels, including the highly gifted, in terms of unlocking their potential.

As well as developmental themes, ELF17 will pick up on the fast changing environment, especially in terms of rapidly evolving learning places and work spaces, and the implications for educators in terms of enhancing teaching and learning and strengthening connections with parents, employers and communities.

While early childhood years are crucial for facilitating the development of healthy and engaged adults who become lifelong learners there are other key life passages where timely intervention can make a huge difference. This can come from the personal attention of an interested teacher or the support of another sympathetic adult, often outside the immediate family circle.

Positive Goals
 “Hope is necessary. It is a necessary concept. What do you give your kids if you can’t give them hope?”  Michele Obama

It is important to give children hope in terms of their future prospects, as demonstrated in Dr Martin Seligman’s Positive Psychology work. Better work pathways are revealed by helping learners set personalised goals based on their talents and passions. Better learning and work outcomes help to break the cycle of material and cultural poverty.

ELF17 is supported by the Ministry of Education and the Wright Family Foundation

Lyall Lukey, ELF Convener      lyall@smartnet.co.nz

*Blinks
Overview: ELF 2017
All Speakers
Programme
Registration Options


Historian’s Role in Ngai Tahu Claim

February 11, 2017

Richard Tankersley’s article* on Ngai Tahu’s long fight for justice,
culminating in its successful 1998 Treaty of Waitangi claim, does not
acknowledge the key role played by Pakeha historian the late Harry C
Evison.

His 1949 thesis on Ngai Tahu’s land claim “Te Kereeme” and  his
subsequent research in the 1980s, when government archives became more  freely available, led to a number of publications, including his 1993 book  “Te Wai Pounamu-a History of the Southern Maori during the European  Colonisation of New Zealand.”

Evison’s research and evidence to the Waitangi Tribunal was crucial to the
success of the claim, as was acknowledged by Ngai Tahu leaders at the
time. He blazed an historian’s fair and even-handed trail through the
minefield of oral and written history. As Sir Tipene O’Regan said in the
foreword to “Te Wai Pounamu”: “Our own self–view lacks his dogged
objectivity and enquiry. We have been nourished by our sense that we were  wronged. Evison, independently, has worked out how it was done.”

The fascinating story Evison uncovered, based on carefully documented
evidence, illustrates the importance of the role of historians at the
fraught intersection of history, law and politics. In the “post-truth” era
of alternative “facts” this is worth remembering and celebrating.

*Blinks
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/89033172/on-waitangi-day-remembering-a-fight-for-justice-that-took-generations     6/2/17
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/17380200/Kiwis-oblivious-to-our-own-history  10/2/17
http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/87162375/donald-trump-has-ushered-in-a-world-without-facts-and-thats-scarier-than-you-think  5/12/16
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/7/misinformed-millennials-and-civic-ignorance/  14/11/16

#Lyall Lukey 11 February 2017
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
My other less serious blog: https://bluggerme.wordpress.com/

 

 

 


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 https://lukeytraining.wordpress.com/
My other (bit less serious) blog: http://bluggerme.wordpress.com/   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Seismic Night, Holey Night….

December 25, 2011

“You could see the panic on people’s faces. That’s the end of Christmas – it’s so unfair,” Sue Joy, florist  23 Dec 2011 

On the eve of Christmas Eve, just when things seemed to be all calm and all bright, the serious jolting started again.  Not only shepherds  were once again quaking at the sight of the quakes. No seismic Christmas truce here in Christchurch in the demolition  trenches  but lots of new sink holes- and a sinking feeling. 

As I write this, at 8am on Christmas Eve, GeoNet has reported 63 earthquakes around the wider Canterbury region over the last 24 hours.* This ended six months of relative calm for the city and will further set back  recovery as insurance companies re-start their risk raters. 

Christchurch residents hoping Christmas celebrations would be a brighter end to a bleak year are instead dealing with more seismic damage to homes, infrastructure and businesses through shaking damage and liquefaction.

Two large magnitude earthquakes on Friday heralded the new activity – a Richter 5.8 and a 6.0, the latter being the 4th largest magnitude since the seismic season started here in September 2010. 

I was upstairs at home for the first 15-20 seconds roller and was out in the garden for the second shorter, but more feisty shock, talking to our Student Job Search gardener who was just describing how he’s seen our whole house jiggle at the earlier quake when we had an even jigglier encore.

Our post World War II rough hewn rimu house is obviously very elastic and goes with the flow. It probably also helps that it is sitting on a foundation of crusher dust from the old Halswell Quarry across the road which acts like base isolation. The grandfather clock downstairs and the cuckoo clock upstairs kept going through the first but were stopped dead, but ever to go again, by the second. 

Once again we were fortunate but a lot of people, especially on the east side of town, were not with power cuts and liquefaction silting up  parts of the eastern suburbs for the fifth time in 15 months.* Not the Xmas present they were expecting. There appears to have been a Mercalli migration further east. Most of the recent quakes were centred in faults below Pegasus Bay, off the coast of Christchurch, within 8-21 kilometres of the city centre, and many were less than 10km deep. 

Whatever the new physical damage from these earthquakes-and there were scores of minor injuries-  they have further set back the recovery of the city. Retailers who have struggled to survive were dealt a major blow as stores packed with Christmas shoppers were evacuated. Some face being shut on the busiest trading days of Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. 

 Essential tremor 

“Essential tremor” is an involuntary trembling that affects millions of people. In October 2008 Eddie Adcock, 70, a bluegrass maestro whose career was being hampered by a hand tremor was asked to pluck his banjo during brain surgery, so surgeons could pinpoint the right part of the brain to work on. During the procedure surgeons prodded and inserted electrodes into his brain to suppress the nerve cells causing his tremors. When the surgeons found the right part of the brain, the plucky Adcock instantly regained his ability and was able to play at full speed once again*. 

The Canterbury land mass above and below the waterline seems to have developed a chronic case of the sesmic ETs. In this case the geotechnical explorations and explanations can’t by their nature be as precise as Adcock’s half hour. Nor can they give the same instant feedback in any predictive sense, let alone bring about a cure.

For that reason the latest tremors have literally sent shock waves through the psyches of people here who were just starting to relax into the Christmas spirit and contemplate a happier and more stable New Year. For some it was the last straw:
“Had enough now   #52   17 min ago   Thats it. We cant do this any longer, the kids are upset, wife and I cant sleep, the best of the city is gone, we are going too. Sorry to those we are leaving behind to rebuild and tough it out. Family and prospects in Melbourne.*” 

But most, not so badly affected, will stay and hopefully display the spirit and dogged determination needed by new pioneers. Before this latest blitz about half the commercial buildings in the central city have either already been demolished or are about to be, including our former offices. There could well be some new candidates.

This Yuletide in this part of the world it’s just got that much harder to sleep in heavenly peace. But many of us still have a lot to celebrate so best wishes for the festive season, no matter how restive. 

*Blinks
http://www.carols.org.uk/silent_night.htm 
http://www.canterburyquakelive.co.nz/
 http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/6186421/Christchurch-continues-to-rattle
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-earthquake/6185073/Residents-left-scared-and-emotional
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6185025/Tremors-will-last-for-some-time-GNS-says 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/675837/Banjo-master-plays-during-brain-surgery 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6186421/Rattled-Cantabrians-hope-for-normal-Xmas
 

#Lyall Lukey 24 December 2011
http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz
https://bluggerme.wordpress.com  My other less serious blog

 

 

 

 


Teachers Pay-Thinking outside the soapbox

May 16, 2010

“… the committee considers that teaching is a profession and that teachers are, and should be encouraged to regard themselves as, members of a profession.”  1978 Marshall Report 

“We have a mandate from… teachers who have said they want us to look at planning for industrial action if faced with the prospect of nothing but clawbacks from the Government….”    Kate Gainsford, PPTA President   Press 15 May 2010 

“Industrial action”? In the post-industrial 21st Century?

By largely middle-class  tertiary educated people who have climbed their way out of whatever blue collar lifestyles their families may once  have  had?

By an occupational group whose salaries have done quite well  (not before time) in the last decade, thank you, and which hasn’t  suffered a loss of  income over the last three years  through reduced overtime or the casualisation or loss of their jobs, unlike many of the parents of the children they teach?  (Unless, of course,  they also taught one  of the Community Education courses now canned).

According to international studies such as PISA, New Zealand has one of the most effective education systems in the world.  The  albeit graying cohort of professional teachers  has  played a large part in this success.  But one has to ask the question: is this comparative success in spite of,  or because of,  the rhetoric of the self-styled teacher unions?  

Before negotiations begin tomorrow on secondary school salaries the PPTA’s President Kate Gainsford has predictably announced that a strike plan was already being worked on.  While the last time secondary teachers went on strike was in 2001/2 during a 16 month battle with the government, which led to three one day strikes,  there have been several strike threats in the meantime, for example over salaries in 2007  and now once again over remuneration.

The PPTA is employing the same political reflexes and flexing of muscles rather than minds that it used in the almost decade of annual surpluses inherited by the last Labour government. But the economic context has changed dramatically. There may be some silver clouds on the horizon as well as gold in the Coromandel, but neither can be gainsaid. The budget larder is pretty bare, as the patient English has been pointing out for some time,  in a  futile effort to dampen public sector salary expectations.

Collective pay negotiations are the raison d’etre of the PPTA and the reason why the advocates of bulk funding in the nineties were stomped on in the resulting  political ruckus*.  But if all is fair in love, war and negotiations it may also be counterproductive in the long run if it damages professional credibility.

In 1978, the year of the Marshall Report, I left teaching after a 12 year secondary classroom career, interspersed with secondments for teacher recruiting and a teaching fellowship at UC, partly because the PPTA, of which I had been an active member, was about to embark on its first strikes.  

In the eighties the Association soon managed to rival the Cooks and Stewards Union for the predictability and unpopularity of its threatened or actual strikes and stopwork meetings-not that they were ever strikes in the classic long-term absence from the chalkface sense. It was three strikes but they were never really out.

As somebody who, as a student working in the freezing works from 1959 to 1963,  had watched the standover tactics of the freezing workers union (“all those in favour say ‘aye’,  scabs ‘no'”), and who had written a history thesis in 1965 on Industrial Conflict in New Zealand 1951 to 1961, I thought teachers should use more articulate ways of engaging the public and winning the public relations war  than open votes on “industrial action” which were wide open to group think and intimidation. I still do.

Anachronistic language and inappropriate political behaviour devalues the professional standing of teachers and turns off many natural allies, especially if it is irrelevant rhetoric that  the real industrial unions themselves no longer employ. Some of it would have made real industrial battlers like John A. Lee, on a real soap box, turn pink with embarrassment. 

The EMPU, New Zealand’s largest private sector union, understands that its success as a union is inextricably linked to the performance of the enterprise and the whole economy. Its leaders have to take a whole systems view and be aware of the hard realities of a volatile economy, not just look at one side of the equation out of context. To be credible  the EMPU can’t afford to act like an emu- or emulate the ostrich.

By way of contrast, the teachers’ unions are running some  ineffective we’ll-bring-our-own-crowd protests over issues like National Standards which address the converted, rather than the issues, and miss the opportunity for engaging the wider public in an informed debate.  These campaigns miss the bus entirely and alienate popular opinion.

In Finland there has been a revaluation of the public’s estimation of the teaching profession, brought about by tougher entry standards and a cross-the sectors consensus of the role of education and training in a fast evolving society. This forward-looking approach is demonstrated by the way Nokia has shifted its focus from pulp and paper to cellphone communication technology.

The Nokia knock-on effect runs deeply through other parts of the Finnish economy and is well understood by Finland’s education leaders who would be hard pushed to understand the strategy and tactics employed by education union leaders in New Zealand in their approach to the triennial negotiation ritual.

But then, as the negotiating spoof below shows*, subtlety is not a prerequisite to getting into the negotiating team of either side in any negotiation nor a skill necessarily employed in the actual negotiations.

At least this year the teacher pay talks will feature an interesting contest between performance and skills based elements which may introduce a long overdue meritocratic dimension to counter pockets of entrenched mediocrity.

 #Lyall Lukey 16 May 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz

 *Blinks

 http://www.teachersmatter.org.nz/ 

 http://youtube.com/watch?v=WMl4kYmkx94   Puppets not Muppets: good faith negotiation?

 http://youtube.com/watch?v=85NF9NnHRBo&feature=related  The Top 10 Moves of Ruckus


TV or not TV: is that the question?

May 9, 2010

 “My daughter likes playing with my iPhone, but this was her very first encounter with an iPad. As you’ll see, she took right to it.”  Todd Lappin  7 April 2010

People concerned with the passive exposure of under two-year olds  to television viewing, like Estelle Irving, keynote speaker at the Early Childhood Council’s conference in Christchurch last week*, may be interested in how not much older children interact with other electronic devices, if given half a chance but no prior instruction.

Below are links to two videos recorded a decade apart, from different countries and socio- economic groups, demonstrating the playful learning virtuosity of young children.

The first features NIIT, an Indian educational-software company, whose headquarters in Delhi borders the Klkaji slum. The two worlds are divided by a simple wall. Ten years ago, Sugata Mitra came up with the idea of putting a computer in a hole in the wall with an Internet connection*. It soon became clear that children, who had never seen, let alone operated, a computer, could work out by themselves how to surf the Net and open up whole new worlds. 

The second shows the first iPad encounter of a 2.5 year old girl* already familiar with the iPhone. Some viewers who posted comments on YouTube were sceptical that it was her very first iPad experience, but she’d learnt the touch-screen tricks on the smaller device.

I’ve had my own experience of how pre-schoolers regard the iPhone as a fascinating plaything to touch, push buttons and get instant feedback. For eighteen months my now 4 year old granddaughter has developed deft tactile skills by handling my  daughter’s -and more recently my- iPhone, taking photos and opening interesting applications with a high visual component.

It’s a sign of the times that the Apple of her eye is somewhat different than the apple of mine. The child’s play game of Touch is a whole new educational  ballgame.

 #Lyall Lukey 9 May 2010 

http://www.lukey.co.nz/  http://www.smartnet.co.nz 

*BLINKS

Parents get TV advice – life-style | Stuff.co.nz

http://youtube.com/watch?v=fSoWSLNMX3E   Indian children discover the Internet 2000

A 2.5 Year-Old Has A First Encounter with An iPad  2010