Quote of the day

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. – Billy Graham

This choice was inspired by:

Brendan Malone’s  Son, your character is more important than legal action:

. . . I love my son more than life itself, but, if years from now, when he is in high school, he should ring me one day and tell me that he is being sent home from a very important school sports trip because he has made a bad decision and broken the law, I will not take legal action to help him avoid the consequences of what he has done.

I will undoubtedly feel greatly disappointed for him, and probably very angry about any personal time or financial investment that is about to be lost by my wife and I as a result of him being sent home from the competition.

But I would also be keenly aware that there is something far more important than just money, time or sporting accolades at stake here, and that I, as his father, need to help him to understand that honour matters, and that sacrificing your integrity to compete in a sporting competition (even if you win) does not make you a winner – it makes you a man without character. . .


Jonny Gilling’s Open letter to the Black Caps: I can point to you and say to my sons, ‘live like that’ :

. . The simple reality is that fame is a cheating lover. Give it a generation or two and very few people will recall your names or your achievements.

Perhaps the cricket die-hards will, there will no doubt be a plaque or two somewhere acknowledging what you have achieved. But the world is too small a place to remember the sporting deeds of many and each generation moves on to its own heroes.

What will live on is character passed from parent to child, honour imparted and stewarded into maturity by a community to a young one. What will live on are the qualities that can exist in a human heart that steward the very life of humanity.

And so I say thank you.

Thank you for taking your global stage and as a unified team, displaying something more valuable than holding aloft a trophy.

To New Zealand cricket, keep walking the path that you have started on. While you did not win the game, where honour and integrity are evident, you can never fail. I believe if you continue on in this manner, the trophies will come.

I know that given the hopes you had as a team, a letter from an unknown nobody will probably mean very little right now. However, life has a funny way of taking what we once thought was an incredible achievement, and with expanded and matured sight, life proves what we thought to be incredible is actually fairly insignificant.

It is for that reason that I hope each of you go forward to live the kind of lives where one day, perhaps months, years or decades from now, you read this letter again and recognise how invaluable it is to display honour, humility, character and compassion for the world to see.

As a father seeking to reveal to them the beauty of his sons, thank you.


23 Responses to Quote of the day

  1. Andrei says:

    It was a massive own goal – these boys did not shine at the competition and have not been picked for the representative trials.

    In the meantime they (and their parents) have achieved national notoriety for themselves.

    And if it does actually go to court there will be another round of public humiliation to come.

  2. TraceyS says:

    “In the current case, the school set the time frame as urgent.

    But was it really?

    What other options did they have?

    We don’t really know, but we do know that, like any school, St Bede’s has power at its disposal.

    But it doesn’t enjoy unfettered discretion to do as it pleases.

    That is what the courts have said – and recent history tells us that there was always a better path to go down.

    Here’s how it is supposed to work: when issues arise, the process is not for one party, the school, to drop in from above and issue a punishment instantly.

    It is for the schools, parents and children to come together and work out the way forward…”


    The parents have said they think this can be resolved out of Court and the school responded by hiring a high profile litigator…


    “The board said “continued media coverage and social media debate” was stressing out many boys, parents and other people associated with St Bede’s community.” (my emphasis)

    So why did they change lawyers to one whom they must have known would attract even further media attention?

  3. TraceyS says:

    “…these boys did not shine at the competition and have not been picked for the representative trials.”

    Is it really any wonder?

    Who could do their best under such conditions?

    The boys made a serious error of judgment by climbing on that conveyor but the school’s first response meant whatever happened next, they were going to be disadvantaged in some way – either by not competing at all or by competing under extraordinary stress.

    Leaving aside the nature of the particular competition and the perceived resourcefulness of the families, were this any other educational ‘contest’, there would be an outrage.

    However, I’m not really concerned about these two boys because by the time they grow up a bit these media stories will have become fish-and-chip paper and they obviously have supportive families behind them. They will be OK.

    It is the kids who don’t have this support that I worry about. For some of them their sporting prowess is all that they have. It is the only sphere in which they can gain a sense of success and achievement. If they got kicked out of the tournament for an error of judgement then their parent(s) probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid let alone defend them. That could be the beginning of a downward spiral. And that’s why it is important that schools do not get away with using exclusion as a first port of call unless there is absolutely no other suitable alternative.

  4. Andrei says:

    Tracey actions have consequences – and the consequences of misbehaving on a school trip are that you will be sent home

    I have signed documents in the past that have laid this out and thankfully it was never put to the test by any of my children, though to be frank one, who will not be identified was asked to leave school, which is what happened – in the long run that child has overcome that setback and gone on to function as a productive member of society.

    Actions have consequences,

    You vandalize trains in singapore and you get your bottom smacked very hard – two German young men have just found that out the hard way

    You smuggle drugs into Indonesia and that potentially will cost you your life as two Australians are now coming to comprehend.

    The earlier an individual learns that lesson with minor consequences the teacher the easier it will be later when the consequences will be more severe

  5. TraceyS says:

    “…one, who will not be identified was asked to leave school…”

    This breaks my heart. But it is surprising how often it is heard in a country where the laws say that each child is entitled to a full education.

    If parents don’t stand up for the rights of children who will?

  6. Andrei says:

    This breaks my heart. But it is surprising how often it is heard in a country where the laws say that each child is entitled to a full education.

    Why Tracey? You don’t know the circumstances, which I’m not going to share – to be sure it gave me grey hair at the time

    But it is surprising how often it is heard in a country where the laws say that each child is entitled to a full education.

    That particular individual has awarded a masters degree from Monash which might be considered a “full education”, fuller than most I’d suggest.

    Nobody’s entitled to a “full education” Tracey – In this country you are offered the opportunity of an education but what you do with that opportunity is ultimately in your own hands

  7. JC says:

    This was I think the third time the rowing teams had been involved in such activities in as many years.

    Clearly the school’s reputation was on the line this time as well as the continued representation of a rowing team from the school.. no school can sustain this sort of damage to reputation without repercussions.

    Add to that one of the parents’ affidavits misled the judge and had a direct bearing on her decision.

    Up and down the country the message rang out loud and clear.. the laws don’t apply to wealthy families with a lawyer for a father.


  8. TraceyS says:

    By this definition, Andrei, every person is entitled to a full education…

    Education Act 1989, Section 3:

    Right to free primary and secondary education

    Except as provided in this Act or the Private Schools Conditional Integration Act 1975, every person who is not an international student is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any State school or partnership school kura hourua during the period beginning on the person’s fifth birthday and ending on 1 January after the person’s 19th birthday.

    Why does it break my heart that your child was asked to leave school? Because it happens a lot where the school has totally failed the child. Maybe not in the case of your child, but there are others where the school has basically just given up on the child, labelled them “unable to learn” or come to the conclusion that they have no future except for a life of crime and jail ahead of them. Sometimes they are right, but often these assumptions can be very wrong. Lots of these ‘hopeless’ students go on to be very successful in life but they still deserved a full secondary education – indeed it was their right.

    If the school asks them to leave early (without making other arrangements) then they are denied their right and this is in fact against the law. Schools should obey the law just as 16 and 17 year-olds should. And if not they face the consequences eh? But how many times are kids asked to leave school too soon (or more subtly given that message) and the school faces no consequences at all? It would take a brave parent to stand up to this, would it not, given the likely media-driven beat-up? In this case of exclusion, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11212170, the parents sought name-suppression to protect their child. The outcome was that the Court quashed the school’s decision to exclude the child.

    That parents have to get name suppression to protect their kid when all they are doing is sticking up for their rights is very sad indeed.

    You may think that this all stinks of “entitlement” and if you do then maybe you should lobby to have the law changed. But until it is, if ever, don’t you think that schools should follow it?

    It may surprise you that I did not grow up as an entitled child with rich parents. I did not get a full secondary education either – far from it! Was I written off by some of my teachers going by family circumstances? Absolutely for certain!

    However, like your child, this did not hold me back for long. But not every child will manage to pull this off. I’m quite passionate about minimising those setbacks and believe that the law is written in such a way to do that – if it is properly applied.

  9. RBG says:

    TraceyS, the boys were NOT suspended from school, they broke the conditions of a signed code of conduct for an interschool sporting tournament and were sent home until their parents objected to their (almost adult) little darlings being held to account for their actions and went to the high court to overrule the school. If 2 young men jumped up and down on the desks in an NCEA exam they would be sent out of the exam room and would not be allowed to finish sitting the exam. Part of a ‘full education’ is learning that actions have consequences.

  10. TraceyS says:

    I’m not arguing that schools shouldn’t be able to establish very clear policies, procedures, codes of conduct and rules, RBG, and that there shouldn’t be consequences for people who break them whether they are students, parents/whanau, teachers, management or board. Of course there should!

    Where you and I differ is in how we see this type of exclusion from school and how it should come about. There is a place for stand downs and suspensions but it should be after other things have been tried – wherever possible. If the school has tried everything else then this might be the only option but it needs to be done consultatively.

  11. RBG says:

    So what should happen to someone disrupting an exam?

  12. TraceyS says:

    Obviously the disturbance has to be minimised or eliminated but as far as “what should happen to someone” it is impossible to pre-judge without knowing the circumstances.

    Have a look at http://pb4l.tki.org.nz/PB4L-Restorative-Practice/What-is-PB4L-Restorative-Practice Book One; Page 4 – the difference in approach between retributive justice vs restorative justice.

    I got the impression from earlier discussions that you’d be more down the restorative path but maybe that was wrong.

    Having a child who was the repeated victim of classmates who were being meted retributive justice granted me a whole new perspective on discipline. This out-dated approach simply role-modelled retribution-seeking behaviour within the school which escalated problems.

    Just as can be seen in the St Bedes case between the parents and the school. Downward spiral.

  13. RBG says:

    I read page 4 of the book TraceyS, and you are right in that, like most people, I would prefer the restorative justice approach, however you have not answered the question

    “So what should happen to someone disrupting an exam?” For a hypothetical example, jumping up and down on their desk and not stopping when asked to do so.

    In your opinion is it OK for the school to remove that student from the exam room (and so they don’t get to complete the exam)?

  14. TraceyS says:

    RBG, if it was my child, yes, I would expect them to be removed from the room in those circumstances.

    If it was a child with previously known difficulties such as the boy in this story: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/237101/judge-quashes-boy's-exclusion then I would expect the school to have made prior alternative arrangements to prevent such a situation occurring.

    In your scenario, it would unlikely be a one-off outburst, but the result of a known behavioural problem that could be planned to accommodate for in advance. For such a child completing an exam must be so much more challenging to begin with. They are already at a disadvantage. Failing to make suitable alternative preparations which might prevent them from having the opportunity to sit the exam could be more devastating for them than most.

    Cheating is probably a more common example of rule breaking during exams. Are cheaters chucked out of the exam room and disallowed to continue? I don’t know. Maybe someone else can answer that. I never tried it to find out!

  15. Andrei says:

    Well what a surprise eh Tracey?

    Fathers of St Bede’s rowers drop case against school

    Haven’t I been predicting this is what would happen all along?

    Yes it is

  16. Andrei says:

    Well what a surprise eh Tracey?

    Fathers of St Bede’s rowers drop case against school

    Haven’t I been predicting this is what would happen all along?

    Yes it is

  17. RBG says:

    TraceyS, there has been no suggestion that the St Bede’s boys are in any way special needs kids, so your link isn’t particuarly relevant to my question. You appear to have been arguing that it was OK for the parents to have gone to court because it was unfair for the boys to be punished by being excluded from the rowing and you seem to be equating participation in an interschooling rowing event with being entitled to access to education. I apologise if I have misinterpreted your comments, but how is it that you would accept a child of yours being removed from an exam for unacceptable behaviour, yet you object to these boys being removed from the rowing?

  18. TraceyS says:

    RBG, a child doesn’t have to be “special needs” to have behavioural problems which could be foreseen and prevented from causing disruption.

    To clarify other points:

    1) It clearly is OK for the parents to have gone to Court:

    “As I’ve said before, this is a democracy and parents can choose to use the court processes available to them. And these parents clearly have done that,” said Hekia Parata, Education Minister.

    2) Physical education is part of the NZ curriculum so I guess rowing is an educational opportunity.

    3) I don’t necessarily object to exclusion as long as it is the only remaining option after other alternatives have been tried.

  19. TraceyS says:

    And a further point is that the boys’ behavior didn’t actually disturb the event, as in your exam example, so the two scenarios just do not equate.

  20. TraceyS says:

    Very sad to hear of the St Bedes resignations today.

    “A member of the St Bede’s College Board of Trustees has joined a procession of resignations at the school in the wake of a public row over an airport incident.

    The college has announced the resignation of Stephen Spencer, who is believed to be aligned with the rowing faction.”

    “Spencer, who could not be contacted this morning, has joined Alex Meates, rowing head coach, and David Lindstrom, coach of the U17 and U18 crews, who say the Catholic boys school will have to do without them next season.

    Said Lindstrom:

    “I sent Justin Boyle, the principal of St Bede’s, an email saying the boys are still going to race and that Alex and I are not scratching their entries. Pulling the boys out of their boats would affect 16 other crews who have worked very hard for this regatta. We couldn’t justify doing that,”

    “Then next thing we know, Boyle is up at the regatta with a lawyer on his arm talking to the parents and trying to scratch the entries himself.”

  21. TraceyS says:

    And there was this:

    “The college has announced the resignation of Stephen Spencer…[h]e has been replaced by Christchurch public relations practitioner Tracey Chambers.”

    How does that happen? Aren’t trustees supposed to elected (or selected) following a democratic process? There hasn’t been time to follow the correct procedure for replacing a parent-elected trustee.

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