Sean Plunket's column in today's Dominion-Post is about Hekia Parata and her back-down this week. And he makes this interesting observation:
But the remarkable turnaround by "What the Hekia" Parata this week would suggest that manual classes are the foundation on which our education system is based and legions of bright kids were traumatised by the thought of losing the chance to make scones, carve wooden sharks or learn to sew.They were on TV every night waving placards or looking forlorn as principals and teachers claimed the sky was about to fall on every student in the country.Schools which are usually reticent about letting cameras into their classrooms threw open their doors to any journalist who would listen and their students duly delivered the required sound bites about how it wasn't fair and they liked technical classes and they didn't want their teachers to lose their jobs.It was a brilliant piece of public relations that had political polls moving.When Ms Parata was finally told by John Key to put on her dunce cap and axe the budget policy changes on Thursday the cameras were there as the kids cheered and clapped.If we were to judge the teacher lobby by the success of this campaign it would get an A plus for student participation and an A plus for results.It is a pity though that the education sector's ability to motivate and engage students in political activity is, according to many statistics and experts, not matched by their ability to actually engage and motivate those same students in regard to their school work.
That last paragraph should be of some concern. How much should teachers, and in many instances school principals leverage from the children they are educating to push a political barrow? We read during the week from Duncan Garner when he posted this on his 3News blog:
I got home last night and my 12-year-old step daughter was waiting for me with a stern message: "We all hate John Key," she exclaimed.Why, I said - pretending to be shocked by it all, but secretly knowing what she was about to say."Well, he's going to close our cooking and technology classes at our school. So we all hate him. And we're writing him letters - no one likes him at our school anymore," she said.