Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: School bully

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  • Rich Lock,

    And to this day Clausewitz is the foundation of military strategy

    Apart from this obscure and little-known chap who no-one has ever heard of called Sun Tzu.....

    his key points aren’t regarded as being refuted.

    Military historian John Keegan argued in 'A history of warfare' that for the Clauswitz doctrines to completely succeed, your entire state needed to be in a state of perpetual (and inevitably sterile and un-evolving) militarisation ((Although I should note that his position has been heaviliy criticized).

    Anyway, to show this isn't a completely irrelevant derail:

    For the tactics you mentioned to work you have to have substantial superiority.

    No. Napoleon's armies were defeated by the Russians taking advantage of a combination of the weather and logistics breakdown (there wasn't enough feed or forage for the horses even before the onset of winter). Napoleon incorrectly assumed that his victory objective was the capture of Moscow. This turned out to be a worthless achievement. The Russian forces were inferior in pitched battle, but far superior at guerilla warfare. Cossack light cavalry never offered direct confrontation, but garried the edges of the retreating army as they attempted to forage and rest. Their ponies were far better suited to the landscape, so they didn't have the same logisitical difficulties.

    The lesson is that you don't fight your enemy on the terms they choose, and that you learn and utilise the landscape to your own advantage (Sun Tzu again), more or less as Ben has outlined.

    In the long-term, I don't think any of The Great Libertarian Project is sustainable. Everyone is going to end up spending more for a worse result, whether that's education, health, banking, or whatever. So their 'victory conditions' (the capture of Moscow) are flawed from the start. We're already seeing the cracks (2008 and all that). How best to use that in this context? Yeah, I'll get back to you on that.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to linger,

    Labour’s chance of reversing Clausewitz is Foucault?

    Leon had some good ideas too...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Pay it forward model
    a Learn for free, then pay for someone else to learn scheme has been proposed in Michigan.

    the plan would allow Michigan students to attend college for "free": In return for free tuition, students have to agree to pay a fixed percentage of their future income for a specified number of years to a special fund that would pay other students' college bills.

    Which seems like our old education model - through taxation - now the wheel is being reinvented .
    Anyone who tries to make education (or health) a 'business' should be removed from office.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    if Labour wants an upset, they have to be tricky

    they have to be good

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to linger,

    My suggestion was that the advantage should be formed into very clear, specific objectives, with a strong thrust for each, rather than a general objective of "push back the Right".

    I agree with this entirely. I think we are on the same page just expressing it in different ways. I still think a few direct policies are better than numerous policies. Fight one or two battles where you have an advantage rather than across a broad front where the enemies greater resources will prevail.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    I'm kind of regretting the war analogy. My aim was to get people to talk specific policy points they would most like to see improved to counter the inevitable angle that Baxter raised, that National is "doing something". To argue only that what Parata's apparent plans are wrong is to kind of suggest that the alternative is stasis, and that the battle lines have been drawn and this trench war (which teachers have been steadily losing, due to the sheer weight of government forces) is how it's going to be. To me that looks like a hiding to nowhere. I didn't intend a philosophical discussion on the art of war, just an acknowledgement that there even is such an "art", that multiple strategies are possible. And it was those that I wanted to hear about.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm kind of regretting the war analogy.

    Sorry - I'll stop my own continuation of this.

    I agree with you that better policies must be formulated rather than straight opposition. But I think they are better to propose one or two strong policies and principles rather than a broad suite of policies. The latter approach will just lose public interest.

    I completely agree that Labour must offer a better alternative rather than simply saying National is doing it wrong. Instead say we will do this instead which is better because ...

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to bmk,

    flees a crowd...

    Fight one or two battles where you have an advantage rather than across a broad front where the enemies greater resources will prevail.

    The very thinking that led to me often bunking the last two periods at high school (on sunny days, and sometimes wet)...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bmk,

    But I think they are better to propose one or two strong policies and principles rather than a broad suite of policies. The latter approach will just lose public interest.

    I'm not so sure about that. Individuals are typically interested in a small number of things, but there are many individuals to appeal to here. I think people tend to just ignore what they're not interested in, so if you only have 2 strong policies, you're losing everyone who isn't interested in them. Education policy, for instance, is of considerably less interest to people who don't have children in education. Minimum wage policy interests people at or near the minimum wage, and their employers, but others don't care so much.

    I certainly think there should be broad focus on core overall areas of strength, and that Jolisa is right to see education as a crucial battleground in this election, especially if Parata is unwittingly giving us insight into the true intentions of her party. Even if the election is lost, it's an important duty of the Opposition to make sure the public is aware of what the government wants to do, and is able signal their preferences.

    But within education, I think there are much more photogenic policy opportunities that can be hammered than the true but boring point that mostly trained and professional teachers actually know what to do and shouldn't be interfered with so much by bureaucrats. If the biggest problem in our schooling is identified as the long tail, then focusing on child poverty and how it can be alleviated at school can stand up as a far more practical solution than the ideologically driven idea that therefore teachers need a selective whipping.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    If the biggest problem in our schooling is identified as the long tail, then focusing on child poverty and how it can be alleviated at school can stand up as a far more practical solution

    If Labour can coalesce their policy platforms around tackling child poverty (which is looking like something of a major theme for the election generally), the educational benefits are easily spelled out and cannot be dismissed: children who go to school healthy, not hungry, and dressed properly, will learn better. They sound-bite nicely, the evidence is unequivocal, and National cannot claim to have been doing anything to address child poverty because they clearly haven't when the numbers are, at best, static.
    Many different policy areas can be built around the central theme of child poverty, and some others can be tied to educational and health improvement too, like changing transport policies and priorities so that active transport is both safe and encouraged, because children who walk/bicycle to and from school are also set up for better learning through both being healthier and also the exercise ahead of learning.

    These are easily-communicated points of difference, and they're not just about calling National a bunch of malicious incompetents who are governing solely for the benefit of themselves (hi, Adams and Carter) and their wealthy mates.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    children who go to school healthy, not hungry, and dressed properly, will learn better

    Quite. I think decent ECE access is under-emphasized, too. It's an area where lot of policy initiatives are possible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    children who go to school healthy, not hungry, and dressed properly, will learn better.

    But it’s also important to child poverty overall not to see education or learning as the only worthwhile outcomes.
    There were people, for example, who said that the Breakfast in Schools programmes was a waste of money when a study found it didn’t change educational outcomes. Of course, the study did find that children in the programme were less hungry. I tend to think that children not being hungry is a worthwhile objective all on its own, even if it doesn’t make any statistically significant difference to measured educational outcomes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

    Quite. I think decent ECE access is under-emphasized, too.

    Subsidised ECE is a good one too because it reaches across multiple policy areas. It helps families get by, it helps the economy by employing more people in ece and allowing people to work who otherwise find that after the costs of childcare they end up no better off. You could even possibly tie health into it.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    tend to think that children not being hungry is a worthwhile objective all on its own, even if it doesn’t make any statistically significant difference to measured educational outcomes.

    I agree. But if you want children to stop being hungry it might be better to increase payments to struggling families rather than supply breakfasts to all kids even those whose families are doing fine.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to bmk,

    IE if the problem is hunger use the existing welfare system to solve it rather than the education system.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Withers,

    National misleading people for the benefit of the - usually foreign - corporates? Really? How could anyone think the Multi-National 1% Party (NZ) would ever do such a thing? They must know too much history.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 312 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to bmk,

    IE if the problem is hunger use the existing welfare system to solve it rather than the education system.

    That's the usual argument, to which the counter is that kids not getting breakfast might not be because breakfast was totally unaffordable, but that the parents preferred to use the money another way, or even were too lazy/drunk/stoned/disorganized/dopey to make it. So school breakfast can get around at least one bad outcome of having neglectful parents.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to bmk,

    But if you want children to stop being hungry it might be better to increase payments to struggling families rather than supply breakfasts to all kids even those whose families are doing fine.

    I will argue that breakfasts in schools is educational. It is apart from just getting nutrition, a social activity. Sharing a meals can help unify groups of people.

    Adding breakfast to the school assembly is not a particularly expensive exercise, in addition to all the other things we as a nation we are happy to budget for. If we could lower the prison muster, the savings could go towards universal breakfasts in school. And the symbolic value of that would make us all feel more civilized, less brutal.

    And then the children will in turn, learn from our behavior. They might hopefully learn to give a shit about us when we become old and possibly impoverished. Seen as how we have an awfully large proportion of elderly people on the horizon. Now is a good time to be setting a more egalitarian example. The simple act of the nation feeding all school children at the start of every school day, and without discrimination, isn’t that far out and freaky. All, over 65 year olds have there gold cards, and and they all get there pensions with out being means tested. So, the argument about how to feed the needy with out spoiling the high deciles, looks a bit like arguing just for the sake of arguing.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to steven crawford,

    Some schools involve the children in serving the meals too, which is a great life lesson. Wealthier kids may need that more than most.

    Didn't Campbell Live cover a school (Pt England?) also growing the produce for their school lunches, then making and selling them for a modest fee to fund the breakfast programme?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to bmk,

    if the problem is hunger use the existing welfare system to solve it rather than the education system.

    Hasn't worked. Let's just make sure teachers don't need to act like social workers.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to steven crawford,

    Although I was surprised it was Rentokill in the UK, I was happy that it is deemed necessary to supply school Lunch over there. Seems like they have done it foreva.
    I bet if the kids are fed from an early age, future crime will drop as a by product.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to BenWilson,

    So school breakfast can get around at least one bad outcome of having neglectful parents.

    And even if you don't want to buy into the whole "children are hungry because their parents are neglectful", or "parents don't feed their children because they spend the money on alcohol, cigarettes, lotto and Sky subscriptions" thing, providing breakfast at school rather than just handing over money means that when parents on the poverty line are faced with competing priorities and trying to decide which bill they're not going to pay because the last electricity bill blew their budget and the landlord's just put the rent up and they're looking for somewhere cheaper but haven't found anywhere yet, it doesn't come to a choice between giving the children breakfast and getting evicted.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to BenWilson,

    That's the usual argument, to which the counter is that kids not getting breakfast might not be because breakfast was totally unaffordable, but that the parents preferred to use the money another way, or even were too lazy/drunk/stoned/disorganized/dopey to make it. So school breakfast can get around at least one bad outcome of having neglectful parents.

    Yeah, well I don't buy that. Either that more money won't help the kids and if they have that neglectful parents what about lunch, what about dinner? If the children are being that neglectful then you need social workers in school not breakfast - breakfast is the cheapest of the three meals.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Sacha,

    Hasn't worked. Let's just make sure teachers don't need to act like social workers.

    That's because the social welfare system is underfunded and benefits are too low. If benefits were at a decent level then I think this solves the problem. It's wasteful supplying breakfast to children who are fed when that money could be better used on the children who do need it. That way rather than giving breakfast to everyone you can give the children who need it breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    And even if you don't want to buy into the whole "children are hungry because their parents are neglectful", or "parents don't feed their children because they spend the money on alcohol, cigarettes, lotto and Sky subscriptions" thing, providing breakfast at school rather than just handing over money means that when parents on the poverty line are faced with competing priorities and trying to decide which bill they're not going to pay because the last electricity bill blew their budget and the landlord's just put the rent up and they're looking for somewhere cheaper but haven't found anywhere yet, it doesn't come to a choice between giving the children breakfast and getting evicted.

    Again to me this says that benefits are far too low (which they are). The answer to that isn't breakfast in schools (which feels like a band-aid). The answer is to increase benefits. Make it so that a car breakdown or doctor visit doesn't leave beneficiaries wondering how on earth they can pay it.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

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