Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Life at Paremoremo Boys' High

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  • Amy Gale,

    __Until they invent time machines, time spent stressing over clothes IS going to be lost to other pursuits.__

    simply isn't true: because I've DONE it. There was no uniform, there was no stressing over clothes. Okay?

    I'm not denying your experience, and my quote above doesn't contradict it - the time in question is just zero.

    As a disclaimer, I was the only person to make it to 7th form in our school and not be made a prefect. I was subject to prefects,...

    Oh, gross. The entire role of prefects should be to participate in the win-win situation of saving staff from various bits of school admin while learning Responsibility and Time Management. Sort of like being a TA, except that you don't get paid (boo) but do get to represent the school at every exciting event that comes along (yay).

    (I wasn't a prefect either.)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    I don't know, And what exactly do you mean by that?

    That it doesn't seem out of the question that people applying for a an arts-related grant might occasionally try put their own edgy, artistic - "creative", as it were - spin on it.

    If not, is a lost opportunity and the first person to try it will probably succeed. But if so - which was what I am contemplating - it is regarded as wildy avant-garde? or just boring?

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I wouldn't define "responsible for" as "boss of" or "in charge of". It's more of an obligation than a power.

    I know the concept of prefects aims for this ideal, but I do hear many stories - all second hand I admit - but many stories of people who were targeted for infractions such socks that were too wide for their legs or hats they kept losing. Having gone to a school where one classmate used to sometimes wear t shirts with obscene slogans without a murmur of a problem - from staff or other students - it seems an insane time wasting exercise when I hear stories - however second hand - of people being bailed up because their hair ties were the wrong colour.

    I have observed first hand mother child meltdowns over uniforms not laundered, who didn't throw what in the wash - and I've seen a kid retrieve dirty clothes from a hamper and go off to school dressed in dirty clothes. When there are drawers and drawers of clean shirts that just seems like a much bigger waste of time than choosing an outfit to go with whatever you plan for the rest of your day so you don't have to go home to change before you go out after school.

    Don't know much about sports teams (didn't know gymnasts didn't wear uniforms! they always seem to have them on TV!), but I kind of assumed there would be sport related parallels to things like

    Those are big time gymnasts who are on tv - we were (or at least I was) a junior high school gymnast that competed with other schools.

    I knew of little league baseball teams that had amazing uniforms, bought by some local gas station owned by someone's Dad... but no, we just wore those nylon vest things you tie on with string - one team green the other red. We're talking more than 30 years ago here. I'm sure it's swankier now, though I have to say when I taught gymnastics here (20 years ago) it was the same as in canada - kids just turned up in ballet leotards, bathing suit and t shirt combos, t shirt and short combos, and (this was not good) jeans and t shirt combos. You can't really do gymnastics in jeans.

    - delegating to a 17 year old the task of checking that the junior choir have their music ready to go on stage

    - having the senior students in each voice part run sectional rehearsals

    Aren't there?

    Er, possibly. I was mostly absent. I had a veeery patchy attendance record by high school and I only went to 50% of my actual classes so I didn't belong to many clubs. I was in a choir in elementary school (8,9 or so) but we didn't have books, just a page xeroxed (or rather "mimeographed" in those days" of whatever odd song they wanted us to sing. King of the Road was an odd one to get children to sing, I thought, and another one where we declared we were "off to join the IRA". God only knows what that was about, hardly anyone was Irish.

    But there was a sense that you should really be responsible for yourself, and be a good citizen, help other all of that. But it wasn't assigned, not in any official capacity. And teachers are specifically warned off saying things like '"I'm leaving you in charge" in case there is a mudslide or an earthquake and some child blames themselves forever. Canadians think like that - we once got a christmas card with a stamp that had a tiny detailed picture of a car being hauled out of an icy river, ambulances in attendance. "Drive Carefully This Christmas" it said.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    The Scandinavian names are odd by NZ standards, but just about any name is considered normal in Canada, as it is a nation of many different ethnic types. NZers kept commenting to my cousin when she visited that her son’s name (Theoren) was “weird”. Actually it’s a perfectly normal French name, for instance the hockey player Theoren Fleury is famous in Canada, Barbara was taken aback by how many people commented on how “weird” his name was, and how many expressed the opinion he would be "beaten up". No in Canada has ever said they found his name weird, nor has he ever been beaten up.

    Re: Canada's diversity. Indeed, just don't tell Tariana Turia, who thinks Canadian immigration to NZ is part of a plot to "whiten" the country. What a dreadful woman.

    Re: the diversity of names. Another good point, but 3 of the first 5 names I entered into my cellphone in Canada were "Bob". "Bob", "Doug", and "Mike from Calgary"seem to account for 50% of the male population.

    Re: Theoren Fleury. Famous, yes, but more for his lifestyle than his name!

    Re: potentially being "beaten up" for an unusual name in NZ. A delightful insight into the mentality of some.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Re: potentially being "beaten up" for an unusual name in NZ. A delightful insight into the mentality of some.

    Oddly, I never experienced this at my alma mater. Bullies would generally mutilate unusual names repeatly and in humiliating ways until the victim was infuriated into taking action, and then they'd beat them up. We had a "first punch = aggressor" policy, which was generally applied regardless of situation, context or provocation between fighting students. It did lower the overall level of fisticuffs, which was the intent and a decent result overall, but it didn't take long for the usual suspects to ascertain that you could double your measure of mean-spirited 'fun' by first goading someone into throwing a weak fist and then laying down a thumping.

    This was the best part of ten years ago, and I have no doubt that steps have been taken; but I suspect that, like other unlovely but tenacious lifeforms, bullying will find a way.

    Sorry for the interlude, folks - as you were.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Our school was one of two state funded alternative secondary schools in the country.

    Are there any around now?

    I agree with you about secondary school needing to be less about academic achievement. If we stand far enough back, you'd have to ask why we should think the teenage years, with all their angst, hormones & dramas, are a great time to expect high academic achievement.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Are there any around now?

    Lots, depending on what you mean by 'alternative'. Religious schools that are integrated receive state funding - Middleton Grange does, despite being one of the largest financial contributors to the Maxim Institute. Also despite one of their objectives being

    To develop confidence in, and the ability to, communicate effectively.

    Oh irony, how I love you.

    My boy is off to Unlimited next year, a special character school that receives state funding.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    children are oft times each others best teachers.

    My school actually got a chance to put that to the test in 7th form chemistry.
    There were two classes. One had a teacher throughout the entire year. For various reasons, my class had a rapid rotation of relievers (some very effective, others less so) and (for a few months) correspondence material. I filled in some of the gaps by writing digest notes for other students. My class had the higher average exam marks at year's end...

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    <quote<My boy is off to Unlimited next year, a special character school that receives state funding.</quote>

    Just had a look at their site - wow! I see there's alot of emphasis on doing - great. It's something that confounds me about many regular schools - plenty of talk about turning out creatives, but not alot of actually doing creative work, unless it's geared to ncea standards. While that may be useful, it hasn't got alot to do with creative thinking and how one goes about being a creative.

    It sounds refreshingly unregimented. I knew religious schools get state funding, but I was thinking more of Unlimited,or Steinerish, models which aren't in the pursuit of ncea & sporting glory for their schools, that are inclusive rather than exclusive and going about things differently.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Re: the diversity of names. Another good point, but 3 of the first 5 names I entered into my cellphone in Canada were "Bob". "Bob", "Doug", and "Mike from Calgary"seem to account for 50% of the male population.

    Bob & Doug - yes there are a lot, the most famous being the comedy duo of fictional brothers Bob & Doug MacKenzie, who were always trying to demonstrate how to get a mouse into a beer bottle, in the hopes they might teach everyone how get a free case of beer out of this elaborate ruse. Mike, yes, plenty of those, but I recently read a statement to the effect that "You know you're canadian if you know at least 3 guys named "Gord, Gordy or Gordon". I must know six and they forgot "Gordeaux".

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    worked largely due to the community/society within which it existed... totally foreign to how it is here...

    Nope it's not foreign here at all. GBHS in the 70s may not have had the attention to detail that Dyan describes, but the culture was there alright. Kids who could skateboard well set fashion, fun kids, funny kids, smart kids and sporting kids set fashions. We weren't obsessed with what we wore and I don't know anyone who spent "too long" getting dressed in the morning to learn.

    Give the nascent minds the freedom to wear what they want and they end up wearing clothes - just like we do as adults.

    The reason you don't see it here as much as in Canada is not many schools have the imagination to get past the "school uniforms were good enough for me so they must be good enough for this generation too" mentality.

    cheers
    Bart

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Bullies would generally mutilate unusual names repeatly and in humiliating ways until the victim was infuriated into taking action, and then they'd beat them up.

    Well, they'd try. Moved around the country a bit, and in every school you'd get the same small-minded munters policing any signs of difference. Luckily most of them couldn't fight for shit.

    I managed to escape the worst totalitarian excesses described by others, although sexist discrimination about hair length still seems to carry on today in some schools. Never could get a sensible answer about how that was a "health issue" for the boys but not the girls (and asking the question led to the rapid disbanding by the principal of his new students' council).

    I have good memories of peer learning, even though it wasn't official policy at any of the schools I went to. Ta for the story about your daughter, Rob.

    And teachers are specifically warned off saying things like "I'm leaving you in charge" in case there is a mudslide or an earthquake and some child blames themselves forever. Canadians think like that

    Must be the wild competition for takeaways:

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    i believe I was in zone for that school David. However I escaped that fate by going to a school further east and south, co-ed and very racially mixed. No race rumbles that I recall particularly even though we had our own Boot Boys.

    Technically we (boys that is, not girls) could be caned, but iirc in my five years there was only one such incident. For drinking vodka in the bogs. I do know of what you speak wrt the strap though. Mr M, ex desert rat in primary school in Dunedin. I was 8. I managed to avoid it being used on me though. He once marked wrong a sentence I wrote using the word 'god'. I had written 'Thor was the Viking god of thunder.' Apparently I was supposed to realise that only sentences about the xian god were allowed so my precocious readings of Greek and Norse mythology was of no use...

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Mind you I had no sympathy for soft Aucklanders who complained about the cold in 'winter'. You see I had come to Auckland from Dunedin and prior to that Scotland. Anyway I cycled 5 miles to school and back every day so no standing around being cold for me.

    It always amused me to see people walking to school in hats and gloves once the mercury fell below about 15C. Here in Dundee we wear t-shirts at 15C, partly because if you wear hat and gloves then, what are you going to wear when it's -5 with 20mph Easterly blowing freezing rain in your face?

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Mind you I had no sympathy for soft Aucklanders who complained about the cold in 'winter'.

    Barefoot rugby on the frosty fields of Taranaki certainly brought a different perspective to the winderless north.

    Found chch too damn cold though, and Dunedin even turned on a 12 degree Xmas day for me one year. Middle of bloody summer, I thought, looking across at Aramoana.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Here in Dundee we wear t-shirts at 15C

    because that's a balmy summer's day, innit..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Ah peer group learning, has that become dogma now? We invented that by necessity in 6th form maths. Our teacher was good at maths but couldn't teach for toffee. Ask her how to do something and she would do an example, without explanation and say: 'like that'.

    So we taught ourselves Calculus out of the textbook. Set something we would all try and figure it out. Those who did first would confer to ensure they agreed then each would teach someone else who would then help someone else etc. We did quite well, though it might be the cause of my inability to ever 'get' integration properly.

    The 7th form maths teacher could teach but was a snarky sod who thought that only maths mattered. I passed (just) Bursary maths just to spite him since he pronounced that I couldn't (on the basis that I had been ill too much).

    Best moment came when he was teaching us to rotate graphs in 3D and work out areas. He had two parabolas, one smaller than the other and inside it. I stuck my hand up and opined that I could now work out how much chocolate was around and a scorched almond. He took me seriously. Fortunately the lesson ended at that point and we managed to get part way down the stairs before erupting into laughter.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    because that's a balmy summer's day, innit..

    Nah, balmy summer's day is when the mercury is pushing, almost, up to 20C. The problem here with hot summer days is the hot air rising off the land draws cold air in off the North Sea and a haar begins to form above the Tay which can then creep up onto the land and can lower the temp significantly. We're 50m above the beach/river and it has to be bad to get up here but many is the time I have walked down the hill into a cold mist from a sunny summer's day on the top of the hill. So when it is a nice hot summer's day, you go out in the morning, or you head inland. Say to the Angus Glens which, facing South catch the sun something wonderfully.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Peer group learning is just what happened while the teachers weren't watching..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    So we taught ourselves Calculus out of the textbook. Set something we would all try and figure it out. Those who did first would confer to ensure they agreed then each would teach someone else who would then help someone else etc.

    Good gods, how wide-spread is this? Because that was 6th and 7th form Chemistry for me. Our teacher was hopeless, and had a thick Punjabi accent that with the best of intentions we couldn't decipher, so we used to sit at the back of the class with the textbook and the lab manual and try to puzzle it out as best we could. It didn't make for great marks to be honest, and I still don't understand that whole mole thing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Good gods, how wide-spread is this? Because that was 6th and 7th form Chemistry for me. Our teacher was hopeless, and had a thick Punjabi accent that with the best of intentions we couldn't decipher, so we used to sit at the back of the class with the textbook and the lab manual and try to puzzle it out as best we could. It didn't make for great marks to be honest, and I still don't understand that whole mole thing.

    Ah yes Chemistry, well it went like this: our 7th form chem teacher was actually a Geography graduate shoehorned into the role, and a blissfully happy newly married xian to boot. In term 3 we were doing revision and he didn't know that gypsum was CaSO4 and not CaCO3 which was School C chemistry and I was so fed up I sotto voice swore at him and I'm sure he heard me. So all the rest of the term when it was Chemistry I would wait a couple of minutes until class and had started and saunter ostentatiously down from the 7th form common room and past the Chem lab windows with the textbook under my arm and take myself down to the library.

    In contrast to maths though I came first in Chemistry and two decades in Biology labs and I not only understand molarity by know the difference between it and molality.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    Bart said:

    We weren't obsessed with what we wore and I don't know anyone who spent "too long" getting dressed in the morning to learn.

    Give the nascent minds the freedom to wear what they want and they end up wearing clothes - just like we do as adults.

    The reason you don't see it here as much as in Canada is not many schools have the imagination to get past the "school uniforms were good enough for me so they must be good enough for this generation too" mentality.

    Very well said - expressing my own views more clearly than I have managed. The proof of the pudding is that when students are finally liberated from uniforms at 17 or 18 (either upon entering 7th form, or leaving the retched system altogether) they aren't suddenly panic-stricken about what to wear (or what not to wear).

    If you can manage to choose your own clothes on weekends and holidays, you can probably manage to do so on weekdays too. It's not rocket-science.

    Interestingly enough, I don't know whether uniforms were ever widespread in Canadian schools. I would hazard a guess they weren't (imagine setting a uniform raincoat in Vancouver, or a uniform parka and balaclava in Edmonton....)

    Actually, we probably shouldn't tempt NZ schools to begin thinking about such things. They already obsess enough about minutiae such as gender-specific rules for hair-length, hair ties, the number and size of earrings......

    As Minister of Education I would be sorely tempted to force schools to focus on things that actually matter by removing their power over student appearance.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Good gods, how wide-spread is this?

    I tended to have a small group of people in various classes that I used to help with things after the teacher had finished explaining it. A couple of nice young women in 5th form maths, a group of four or five friends in 6th form accounting, and occasionally, the whole class in 7th form economics (occasionally the teacher would say, after he'd drawn something on the whiteboard "is that right Kyle?").

    All nice teachers, and not terrible at their job, just not focused on making sure the whole class 'got it'.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    ope it's not foreign here at all. GBHS in the 70s may not have had the attention to detail that Dyan describes, but the culture was there alright. Kids who could skateboard well set fashion, fun kids, funny kids, smart kids and sporting kids set fashions. We weren't obsessed with what we wore and I don't know anyone who spent "too long" getting dressed in the morning to learn.

    We weren't very fashionable until later years of high school - I started junior high (13 year old - grade 8) in 1970 - and at that age and in those days skating gear was about as far from fashionable as clothes could get, and were also referred to as "play clothes". Striped t shirts, bermuda shorts, hoodies, sweatshirts that had tributes to cartoons like Fat Freddy's Cat or Harold Head or The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. These were the sartorial choices of those who had not yet discovered fashion.

    My Mum would pick something up that I'd skated in and say "it looks like it exploded". She put iron-on patches in the elbows, knees and butts of all my clothes because I could write off a garment in an afternoon.

    This is in the day before polyurethane wheels on skateboards - imagine a tiny, rigid wood board with metal wheels that supposedly could rotate independently but usually jammed instead, pitching skater and resulting in both road burns and ruined clothes. Skating was all lazy-daisys (interlocking figure 8s on a flat surface) or downhill slalom. The most impressive thing you could do was a downhill jump but as the boards didn't bounce so well in those days, that was pretty dicey. There was no way you could make a tight turn. Skating in those days was the same as scooters and roller skates - strictly the province of children. Road rats, they used to call us.

    Skating changed forever just as I was too old to have fun with it - the polyurethane wheels and the vertical skating. With it suddenly came skaters who were older than 13 or 14 and who started getting quite famous, and with that fame the stuff the kids were wearing became fashion statements. But believe me, when I was skating, all my older siblings/siblings girlfriends/my mum/and all female friends were trying to do a fashion makeover on me.

    By senior high (15 to 18) I became much more interested in clothes, partly because I inherited an endless number of garments from my two sisters who were 9 and 11 years older than I was and would no sooner purchase something then tire of it. Plus a small army of people who'd been trying to style me for years.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • ARVNranger,

    "I'm envious, all I've got (OK, I attended 3 colleges around the world, but the one I was longest at) is Sir Bob Jones, Bill & Boyd & convicted murderer, Graeme Burton."

    Ahh - that one. I was there through the early '80s. My then girl friend's parents taught there and I remember overhearing (though I'm surethey didn't intend it) a conversation at their house between some of the teachers, at a social occasion, regarding zoning and the removal of streaming. One side of the debate was that by spreading the few bright sparks across classes of otherwise disinterested non-performers a synergy would be achieved whereby the hitherto backmarkers would be inspired to improve themselves. Ya - rly. The counter-argument was that mixing ice-cream and sh*t simply produced sh*tty ice-cream.

    Since Nov 2007 • 6 posts Report Reply

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