Getting the book invented


Hat tip: Open Parachute

Word of the day


Derogate – disparage; take away or detract from; deviate from an expectation or standard; go astray.

Remember to breathe


If, as often happens at this time of year, you’re having one of those fortnights this week, remember to breathe:

Environment, economy linked


Quote of the day:

“Our environment and our economy and are inextricably linked. Our natural resources provide our competitive advantage and need to be well managed to enable sustainable economic growth as well as long-term environmental integrity. Steven Joyce.

He was commenting on  a report from the Green Growth Advisory Group, established by the Government, which made 26 recommendations on how New Zealand can build a more productive and competitive economy, reinforced by high-quality environmental outcomes.

“The Government agreed at the time with the central conclusion in the report that New Zealand needs a broad growth strategy where all sectors take into account their environmental performance rather than focusing on a select group of ‘green’ industries,” Mr Joyce says.

It’s no use having a few green stars if the rest of the economy isn’t committed to protecting and enhancing the environment.

“The Government sees major opportunities for New Zealand in industries covered in the report such as the food and beverage industry, tourism, high-value manufacturing and services, and the petroleum and minerals sector.”

It is possible to have economic growth without degrading the environment.

The progress update on Greening New Zealand’s Growth recommendations is here.

Horan 1 – Peters 0


Brendan Horan has been summarily dismissed from New Zealand First but he’s not going quietly and he’s not going to show any mercy to his former party if Question Time yesterday is anything to go by.

He asked a supplementary question to one on immigration posed by his former leader:

Brendan Horan: Does the Prime Minister agree that natural justice and due process are relevant in the administration of the Immigration Act?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I do, and I think it is important to be consistent when one is applying that. I know that selection of people when they come to New Zealand for visas is difficult, but when 171,000 a year are coming, that is really challenging. But when it is one of eight, you would think you would get it right.

Horan has had time to learn from Peters who won’t be at all impressed by the antics of his pupil.



Last night Education Minister Hekia Parata issued a media release headlined International studies show changes must be made to improve education outcomes.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says two international research studies on student achievement released tonight confirm that more work must be done to improve our education system.

“While we have a good education system overall there are persistent signs of under-performance. The findings of these studies must serve as a wakeup call.  We cannot take for granted that our overall achievement at the senior end of our system can be maintained if we do not improve the system all the way through.

“Unfortunately these results show that we are either standing still or falling behind in reading, maths and science.  We must pay urgent attention to what these studies tell us and tackle some system-wide challenges.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), was completed between November 2010 and October 2011 for Years 5 and 9 and shows marked drops in maths and science achievement, particularly at middle primary school level, and no improvements in reading literacy.

“While we have some high performing children, we have many children who lack basic skills and knowledge, particularly in mathematics and science, compared to children of a similar age in other countries. That is seriously worrying,’’ says Ms Parata.

“These studies indicate that we need to increase our focus on improving teaching quality and leadership. And, as our own research shows we must give particular attention to transitions – when children move from one level of schooling to the next.

“We must ensure that children develop good reading and writing skills from the moment they start school. Given the critical role this has in starting children on the right path it would suggest that our best and most experienced teachers are needed most at this level.

“In the transitions work that our Education Review Office has done they have also identified how important it is to create a successful transition at Year 9 so that the progress to NCEA2 is much more planned and assured.

“We need good, quality data so we can see how a child’s learning is progressing. We are starting to see the benefits of that this year with the first reporting of National Standards data. The data enables us to support all learners and target those who are falling behind much earlier and give them the help they need. We have a five year plan to improve the quality of that data.

“We are also working with schools to better understand and use their data to change the way that teaching occurs when it is clear that what is being done is not working.

“ERO has also identified the importance of using assessments to get better learning – rather than assessment simply to have assessment. National Standards is built on developing consistency and progression and not on a high stakes national test, as happens in other parts of the world.

“Given the disturbing trend reflected in the PIRLS and TIMMS studies it is important that we get on and embed national standards into routine practice.

“We know that the strength of a parent’s involvement with their child and their school makes a very positive difference.  It also helps to identify those families that may be struggling and to find the assistance needed from other agencies.

“We need to ensure parents are involved in their child’s learning, that they know what questions to ask teachers and how they can best support their child’s learning. 

“We also need Boards of Trustees to ensure that their main focus is on raising student achievement. The changes we are proposing in the Education Amendment Bill will provide more clarity for schools and Boards of Trustees, and ensure children’s needs remain the central focus for our educators.

“We must work with parents, children, teachers, principals, Board of Trustees, the education sector and experts to address the issues raised by this research.  We want all our children to leave school with the skills they need to reach their potential in a modern society.”

This is carefully worded.

It acknowledges the good work being done, outlines concerns and accepts that improvements are needed, notes the importance of assessment for better learning rather than assessment for its own sake, recognises the important part parents play in their children’s education and the need for everyone in education to work together to address the issues.

Contrast that reasoned message with this advertisement from the NZEI which appeared in last night’s Oamaru Mail – and presumably other papers:


It says:

The Government is imposing standardisation and competition on our primary schools, claiming this will make schools and teachers more accountable.

These failed policies from overseas known as the “Global Education Reform Movement” (GERM) are infecting our schools through the introduction of National Standards, school league tables, charter schools and performance pay for teachers.

New Zealand has a world leading education system. It does better than countries where the GERM has been introduced. When a GERM infection arrives schools and centres get ill and kids learn less.

New Zealand educators have an antidote to the GERM.

We want fair and equitable education for everyone.

We pledge to work together with parents and communities to ensure all our schools are great schools.

And we will continue to work to ensure every child gets the education they need.

To find out more visit

Full marks for emotion and confusion (imposing standardisation and offering charter schools?) ; zero for reasoning.

It’s a stark contrast to the reasoned and factual release from the Minister.

That was embargoed until 10 last night. The advertisement appeared in yesterday’s paper which is published in the morning.

Could it be the two are related and the union knew what was coming, or is it just a coincidence?



If my understanding of palindromes is correct, today’s isn’t one – that would be 12.1.21 or 21.1.12.

But today’s date  – 12.12.12 – has a pleasing symmetry which doesn’t happen very often.

December 12 in history


627 Battle of Nineveh: A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeated Emperor Khosrau II‘s Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh.

1769 French explorer Jean François Marie de Surville  first sighted New Zealand near Hokianga.

De Surville first sights NZ near Hokianga

1779 Madeleine Sophie Barat, French saint was born (d. 1865).

1805  Henry Wells, Founder of American Express, was born (d. 1878).

1812 The French invasion of Russia ended.

1821 Gustave Flaubert, French writer, was born  (d. 1880).

1862 USS Cairo sank on the Yazoo River, becoming the first armored ship to be sunk by an electrically detonated mine.

1863  Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter, was born (d. 1944).

1893 Edward G. Robinson, American actor, was born  (d. 1973).

1870  Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina became the first black U.S. congressman.

1900 Sammy Davis, Sr., American dancer, was born (d. 1988).

1901 Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic radio signal at Signal Hill in St John’s, Newfoundland.

1911 Delhi replaced Calcutta as the capital of India.

1915  Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor, was born (d. 1998).

1927  Robert Noyce, American inventor of the microship, was born (d. 1990) .

1929 John Osborne, English dramatist, was born (d. 1994).

1935  Lebensborn Project, a Nazi reproduction programme, was founded by Heinrich Himmler.

1936  Xi’an Incident: The Generalissimo of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek was kidnapped by Zhang Xueliang.

1938  Connie Francis, American singer, was born .

1940 – Dionne Warwick, American singer, was born.

1941  Adolf Hitler announced the extermination of the Jews at a meeting in the Reich Chancellery.

1948 Batang Kali Massacre – 14 members of the Scots Guards stationed in Malaysia allegedly massacred 24 unarmed civilians and set fire to the village.

1949 – Bill Nighy, English actor, was born.

1950  Paula Ackerman, the first woman appointed to perform rabbinical functions in the United States, led the congregation in her first services.

1956 Irish Republican Army‘s “Border Campaign” began.

1961 The first Golden Kiwi draw took place.

First Golden Kiwi lottery draw

1963 Kenya gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1964 Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta became the first President of the Republic of Kenya.

1965 Will Carling, English rugby union footballer, was born.

1979  Rhodesia changed its name to Zimbabwe.

1982 Women’s peace protest at Greenham Common – 30,000 women held hands and formed a human chain around the 14.5 kilometres (9.0 mi) perimeter fence.

1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland killing 256, including 248 members of the United States Army‘s 101st Airborne Division.

1988 The Clapham Junction rail crash killed thirty-five and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains.

1991  Russian Federation gained independence from the USSR.

2000 – The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore.

2006 Peugeot produced its last car at the Ryton Plant signalling the end of mass car production in Coventry, formerly a major centre of the British motor industry.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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