Teachers who inspire

February 10, 2014

A new website aimed at acknowledging the life-long impact that teachers have on their students’ lives has been launched today by the Education Minister,  Hekia Parata.

“‘Inspired by U’ is a website designed to recognise and celebrate teachers and educators who have made a difference to their student’s lives,” Ms Parata says.

The website invites people to go online and write a virtual postcard to the teacher that inspired them most.  

Around 200 prominent New Zealanders, including Prime Minister John Key, have taken part and written to a former teacher telling them why they inspired them.

“I am very fortunate that I can remember a range of teachers who inspired me throughout all my years of education”, says Ms Parata.

“I’d like that to be the experience of every young New Zealander, and that’s why we have been investing in a programme of initiatives to raise the quality of teaching and leadership, and keep, grow, and attract the best in to the profession”.

“I think everyone can remember at least one teacher who had a real impact on their time at school and the ‘Inspired by U’ initiative is a great way of recognising those teachers,” says Ms Parata.

“Celebrating excellence in education is an important part of the Government’s commitment to raising the status of the teaching profession, and publicly acknowledging the powerful contribution the profession makes to lifting overall student achievement.

“Hosting the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in March together with Festivals of Education in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, introducing the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, establishing the new professional body EDUCANZ, and the $359million investment into better career pathways, are all part of acknowledging the profession, raising its status, and recognising the critical contribution that quality education achievement makes to the future prosperity of New Zealand,” says Ms Parata. . .

The website is here and members of the public are invited to send a post card to teachers who inspired them.

The Prime Minister’s message is to Mr Hughes of Burnside High School.

I was inspired by you because you had a love, passion and great knowledge of economics. You added to my desire to make a difference to New Zealand. Kind Regards.

Hekia Parata acknowledges Mrs Fitzpatrick of Ngata Memorial College,

I was inspired by you because you encouraged my love of reading, broadened my taste in literature, bolstered my confidence when other kids thought it was pretty nerdy and you were big on “big words” (though not bureaucratic ones!!).

Nga mihi – Thanks!

Nikki Kaye pays tribute to Mrs Eadie of Corran School:

I was inspired by you because you are such a positive person. At school I really admired you and learned from your ability to be so positive and strong no matter how level the discussions were. I will be eternally grateful for the moment where you believed in me and told me to take the harder but better path when I could have gone the wrong way. Your belief in me gave me the confidence at a really important time on my life. I think life would be very different if that moment of belief had not of happened. I often reflect on that particularly when young people come to me for advice and help. Thank you.

Sir Peter Leitch thanks Mrs Main  of Wellington Tech:

Thanks for teaching outside the square – you gave me HOPE! It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, to go out into the workforce and have a go. Because of that I found the will to fight against the odds and created the Mad Butcher- so thank you for having faith in me.

Sir Michael Hill thanks Mr Green of  Whangarei Intermediate:

Whangarei Intermediate School was a very sporty school and you were the music teacher and played the violin very nicely. Even if you thought of playing the violin there – you were a sissy but I loved the sound of it and I used to sit outside your room while you played and decided to take it up. As a result, music has been with me all my life.

Julian Wilcox thanks Henare Kingi:

Henare Kingi is an elder statesman of the Ngāpuhi tribe, a founding broadcaster of New Zealand’s first Māori Radio station, Te Ūpoko o Te Ika, and a recognised scholar of Te Reo Māori.

When I graduated from University, Henare stood to congratulate me, however, he chose to do so thus:

“E taku tamaiti, ahakoa he aha rawa tāu e whai ai i tēnei ao, kia mahara ake koe ki ēnei kupu ā tō matua: Whakaiti, whakaiti, whakaiti.”

“My child, no matter what you choose to do in this world, remember these words of your elder: through humility comes humanity.”

Whilst I have struggled at times to embody this lofty notion in an industry that encourages one to rise above one’s peers, it is a statement I have tried to cleave to, modeled by a man who continues to inspire me in all that I do.

Anna thanks Ms McKinnon of Iona College:

You created a great environment for learning. We all knew what was expected of us and what would happen if we fell short of your standards. As we became older and moved from social studies and into the individual classes of history and classics you fostered debate between young women and allowed us to voice our opinions and helped show us the road to self-education. Because of you I have a LOVE of history, so much it even became one of my University majors. Thank you.

Kate acknowledges Mr Whiteside of Taradale High:

Six weeks to go and I was on course to fail School Certificate mathematics. I had given up on myself. For some reason my homeroom/maths teacher (you) decided to save me. For six weeks you voluntarily tutored me after school – slowly and painstakingly teaching me, but most importantly, restoring my self-belief. Your patience and understated encouragement enabled me to pass – only two marks off an A grade! Thanks Mr Whiteside your a truly inspiring teacher.

Dallas thanks Mrs Hanna of Papatoetoe High:

You were my English teacher at Papatoetoe High School in 1968 and 1969. What made the difference? You cared! You cared about me not only as a learner but as a vulnerable teenage girl judged by most teachers at the school by the behaviour of my older brother. You took time to know me not only as a learner but as a person in my own world. The result – I LEARNED well in your class.

Esther thanks Sister Lidwina of St Joseph’s Catholic School, Morrinsville:

You were  my first teacher in New Zealand when I was nine years old.  I was incredibly lucky that you were able to speak some of my language but what made you really special was the time that you took to get to know my family.  You really helped us all to feel welcome and confident in our strange new country.

Clayton thanks Mrs Hedger of Opononi Area  School:

When I think of influential teachers in my life, you were one of them. You gave me a chance when I was naughty and you were always there. Thanks so much – I will always remember you.

There is more information about the Festivals of Education here and about Prime Minister’s Awards  here.


Word of the day

February 10, 2014

Autarky – economic independence or self-sufficiency; a policy of national self-sufficiency and non-reliance on imports or economic aid; policy to have a closed economy and not allow any external trade; a self-sufficient region or country.

Hat Tip: Offsetting Behaviour


Rural round-up

February 10, 2014

Staff vital part of dairy farm –  Sally Rae:

At Willowview Pastures in North Otago, staff are considered an integral part of the business.

Owners Geoff and Katrina Taylor run the dairy farm on the lower Waitaki Plains near Waitaki Bridge.

Employees were given responsibility for particular on-farm tasks, described by Mr Taylor as their on-farm ”niche”, but still kept up with what was happening farm-wide. . .

Homeopathy and farming; let’s do better, media – Grant Jacobs:

Today Fairfax NZ News published at Stuff.co.nz an article titled, Homeopathy key for dairy farming couple. Unsurprisingly this has been spread to other sites, including pro-homeopathy sites.

Unlike many (most?) articles at Stuff, no means of commenting on this article are available.

Let’s quickly look at key problems in this story.

We might use as inspiration the TED slogan, “ideas worth sharing”, altering it to fit our purposes “information worth sharing”, considering ‘information’ and ‘news’ to be synonymous.

It carries with it a catch: if the information isn’t sound, it’s not worth sharing – not worthy of a place in a newspaper or news website. . .

Welsh shearers learn by competing in NZ – Helena de Reus:

Competing in New Zealand is a chance for Welsh shearers to learn from the best.

Welsh shearing team manager John Davies is touring the country with shearers Gareth Daniel and Richard Jones to contest the four-test Elders Primary Wool series between New Zealand and Wales. The series reached Balclutha at the weekend.

”New Zealand have the best sheep shearers in the world, so it’s good to learn from them and compete against the best.” . . .

Wool titles go far and wide:

Young shearers and woolhandlers fought for three titles at the Otago Shearing and New Zealand Woolhandling Championships in Balclutha yesterday.

The three winners of yesterday’s competition once again hailed from outside Otago, with Erica Reti (Gore) winning the New Zealand junior woolhandler title, Carlton Aranui (Raupunga, Hawkes Bay) winning the Otago junior shearing, and Dylan McGruddy (Masterton) taking the intermediate shearing title.

Two South Island woolhandling circuit titles were also awarded, with Liv Gardner (Southland) winning the junior section and Juliette Lyon (Alexandra) taking the senior. . .

Hort NZ to lobby on labelling:

The national horticulture body says it will continue to keep a close watch on moves by Australian supermarkets to remove New Zealand food products from their shelves, even though nothing has come from political talks on the issue.

The two big supermarket chains in Australia, Coles and Woolworths, are backing the Buy Australian campaign and as part of that, say they’ll stop stocking New Zealand products in their house brands.

Prime Minister John Key raised the issue at a meeting with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott last week, but was told it was a commercial decision for the supermarkets and did not breach the Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement between the two countries. . .

Drought roadshow starts:

Farmers in Hawke’s Bay, East Coast and Bay of Plenty – areas still recovering from last year’s drought – will attend a roadshow this week to find out how they can drought-proof their farms.

They’ll hear from Marlborough farmer Doug Avery, who’s been inspiring farmers around the country with the story of how he and his family rescued their farm from collapse after a series of droughts in the 1990s. . .

 


Need to be cool to be thin?

February 10, 2014

Are warmer homes, schools and work places contributing to the obesity crisis?

A new study from scientists at the National Institutes of Health has found that placing volunteers in temperatures of less than 59F (15C) for around 10-15 minutes caused hormonal changes equivalent to an hour of moderate exercise.

These same hormonal changes have been linked to the creation of brown fat, a form of fat that actually burns up energy.

Brown fat was once only thought to be found in babies, but scientists have since discovered that adults possess small amounts of the tissue, with slimmer people having more.

Around 1.7 ounces of brown fat are capable of burning up 300 calories in a day – the same amount of energy stored in 1.7 ounces of white fat – the tissue where excess calories are stored.

The new research has now added to a growing body of evidence that exposure to cold temperatures can help people to control their weight.

Dr Paul Lee, who led the study and is now based at the Garvan Instutite of Medical Research in Sydney, found that exposure to the cold resulted in the release of two hormones called irisin and FGF21 that are known to transform white fat into brown fat. . .

The researchers from the Maastricht University warned that modern life meant people spent most of their lives exposed to warm indoor temperatures and so our bodies are not working as hard to stay warm.

They said the tendency for offices and homes to be temperature controlled in the winter could be contributing to the obesity crisis.

Marken Lichtenbelt, the lead author of the paper, said: “Indoor temperature in most buildings is regulated to minimise the percentage of people dissatisfied.

“This results in relatively high indoor temperatures in wintertime. This is evident in offices, in dwellings and is most pronounced in care centres and hospitals.

“By lack of exposure to a varied ambient temperature, whole populations may be prone to develop diseases like obesity. In addition, people become vulnerable to sudden changes in ambient temperature.”

Temperatures which were considered normal for homes, schools and work places a few decades ago are regarded as unhealthily cold now and linked to diseases of poverty like rheumatic fever.

But this research suggests that the warmer temperatures prescribed for healthier homes and work places while helping health in one way are contributing to problems in another.

These findings suggest we’re fatter because we’re warmer and we need to be cooler to be thinner.

Could the obesity crisis be due not just to too much sugar, but too much heat?

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


Should be easier to sack

February 10, 2014

Quote of the day:

. . . Policy announcements will need companion steps to help them succeed.

For instance, National’s plan to improve leadership and teaching needs to ensure employment law enables prompt pathways for dismissing principals or teachers who are not able to lift their performance sufficiently. Current arrangements are cumbersome and do not act in the interests of children. . .  Linwood Avenue School’s principal Gerard Direen.

It isn’t only schools which find it difficult to sack people who aren’t up to the job they’re employed to do.


Don’t need govt to be CoOl

February 10, 2014

The furore over Australian supermarket chains shutting out New Zealand products and produce has refuelled the cries for compulsory country of origin labelling (CoOL).

I like to know where food I buy comes from and it does influence what I buy.

But there’s no need for the government to get involved.

C0OL isn’t difficult for fresh produce and single ingredient products.

The supermarkets I usually shop at already have CoOL for most of their food, where they can.

They’re responding to customer demand and if it’s good for business they’ll keep doing it.

If it’s not good for business they and their customers would lose from government interference.

Agitating for compulsion is just one many examples of where, if the government is the answer, the wrong question was asked.

 


Cheating is cheating

February 10, 2014

Is it right to equate the morality of underpaying tax with defrauding the benefit system?

. . . Just 380,000 individuals pay half of all income tax.

If you earn more than $80,000 you are in that group. Most tax is paid by businesses through corporate tax or receipted GST payments. Possibly 80 per cent of the country is taking more from the state than they are contributing.

If you are a net contributor most of your money will go to paying for the welfare of others.

Most of those who seek to reduce their tax obligations are net contributors to our society. The only complaints against them are they do not pay enough.

Beneficiary cheats, by contrast, are providing nothing to start with and seek to enrich themselves further by deception and dishonesty.

Judges understand this, which is why beneficiary cheats go to jail for longer, as they should.

Cheating is cheating.

It makes no difference if you’re cheating with your tax or a benefit. If you’re cheating, you’re cheating.

But if it’s not illegal is it cheating?

Tax evasion is illegal but arranging your affairs to minimise your tax burden isn’t necessarily.

This is why lower, flatter tax rates are better.

People are much less likely to try to avoid them and much more likely to spend their time on more productive activity which will make more money which will deliver more tax.

That creates a virtuous cycle which is far better than the vicious circle of higher taxes which encourage avoidance and lower productivity which produces less profit and less tax.

 


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