Posts by Gordon Dryden

  • Hard News: "Creative" and "Flexible",

    For those of you (it seems many on this discussion website) who tend to support (in each case) the "public" versus "private" divide:

    1. "Public service" radio (for at least 11 months out of 12) seems to leave the "private stations" in NZ way behind.

    2. The exception is the summer holiday month when "National Radio New Zealand" changes its entire character and ends up largely as crap (leaving "full-time working partners" wondering why their partners continue to rave over what they take part in each day during the rest of the year).

    3. PR Lesson for Radio NZ National: make sure to balance the debate next Christmas-New Year by providing the same sort of (at least) 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekday programs you provide in the rest of the year.

    4. TV3's "Campbell Live" tonight ("private" station) left TV One's "Close-up" ("public service?") wallowing in its slipstream. (But not always.)

    5. While PBS in the US is generally way behind Radio New Zealand National in its daily current affairs programs, PBS has some wonderful sponsored weekly "public affairs" programs. For example, read Michio Kaku's great book Visions ("How science will revolutionize the twenty-first century"), and you see how one great theme (interviewing an excellent scientist every week) can transform a needed public debate on positive alternatives.

    6. Consider how Brian Edwards' Saturday morning program on Radio New Zealand National (Brian was formerly a daily talkshow host on private "Radio Windy" on Wellington) was so much better (in my view) than Kim Hill today (while Kim was brilliant on daily National Radio). ("Tone" in radio, for the time of the day and day of the week, is as important as content alone. Kim had a brilliant "daily" radio interviewing "tone" ("Here was the news this morning: here is the vital background today") but has never struck the same "weekend tone today" (except for, in the main, "cultural matters". Brian the opposite.

    7. Radio New Zealand's National's "The Panel" on weekdays from 4 to 5 is, unfortunately, about on a par with much current daily "private" radio talkback. Perhaps even worse, because the same "celebrities" seem to bounce back regularly.

    8. Concert Radio? Narrow-casting - which is not the niche denominator online in the new digital century.

    9. And Noelle McCarthy as the summer-holidays star? Surely that is plot by someone to show those working during the day most of the year that Radio New Zealand National doesn't deserve State support. But

    10. I guess one big resulting quandary: what is the main role now of "broadcast media" (on the one hand) versus either bigoted broadcast niches (Fox News in the US ) or blog-based, mainly one-sided contributions on Websites?

    11. Ah for an equivalent to Michio Kaku's weekly "Visions" program on weekend Radio New Zealand National — and then a follow-up online discussion on positive alternatives to the viewpoint presented (by online I mean on-radio with the scientific-guest answering questions and extending discussions on major issues; and then this present type of discussion —in an open-minded way—on websites).

    Finally, book publishing is finally entering its biggest change-period since the invention of moveable type and the mass-produced book 560 years ago. Radio and television are entering a similar crunch-point. Hats off to the BBC, under its current leadership, for leading the drive to digitize its incredible library of great TV programs and making them available to the world.

    And if you'd like to look at the future of video-audio-print combined, here are a couple of sites:

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    Tks for New Scientist references, Peter. Matt Ridley's book, Nature Via Nurture, is also worth reading. The most effective early-childhood "levelling up" programs I have personally visited include the then Swedish Government's (2000) early-childhood centres for Sweden's large refugee communities, from 100 different countries.

    Missouri's Parents as (First) Teachers Program is also great, even if under-funded.

    Like most of my friends, I don't consider myself left or right, but merely one still trying to sift out examples (not just in education) that really work, no matter who has introduced them or suggested them. One core philosophy: virtually every problem in the world has been solved somewhere in the world—and it makes some sense to apply the best. Now, fortunately, it's easy to find out about them.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    Re Russell's comments on Unlimited and Discovery 1 and some of the schools visited by the "Inter-Party Working Group): I've written to the group members mentioning my surprise that the Christchurch schools were not visited by them — and recommending that much better" personalised learning plans" are operating in existing schools in New Zealand and elsewhere, without the (to me) rather strange recommendations in the group's report.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    Geoff: In context again . . .

    The "film editing" context was in comparing some of the state "institutes of technology" with such private IT trainers as Media Design School in Auckland which (a) encourages all its potential students to get some hands-on job experience first, in one of the media-areas, such as a junior in a television agency, video company or other similar areas, and then (b), once sure of what is the intended chosen career, to then learn to specialise in that (generally after age 20) at the Design School—in much shorter than the "state" polytech courses. As a result, about 95% of all students receive good job offers before they qualify, and the rest are fully employed. (Media Design School does not teach only video editing, but a wide range of high-tech media design skills.)

    Incidentally, I'm involved with the (privately owned) University for Advancing Technology in Arizona, and have frequently made known to them what I consider to be the superior education provided by Auckland's MediaDesign School. The NanYang (state) Polytechnic is also the best institute of technology I personally have visited anywhere in the world.

    I do not oppose or make blanket criticisms of state institutes of technology, but I do criticise the "bums on seats" state blanket payment systems to all institutions when, for many learners, they can learn well in much shorter times than the prescribed three years (or whichever).

    Incidentally (without lauding "older days") all journalists in my era did all their training on the job (as did nurses), and, in the case of journalists, a "four-year cadetship" could be compressed greatly, depending on ones competence and application (in the era before Polytechnic Schools of Journalism). Certainly our concentrated "real life" training on the job more than took care of the "experience" factor that Geoff Lealand so rightly advocates. Perhaps funny: but we never thought of our training being "private". Most of mine, in fact, was on the then Labour daily, the Southern Cross, which was mainly owned by trade union shareholders. But almost invariably, young journalists then tried to move from big city to little city (in my case New Plymouth) and then to a small country town (Dargaville) to make sure we broadened our real-life experience.

    Ask some of the remaining older journalists still around, such as Gordon McLauchlan and Dave Lawson, and I think you'll find that most, and perhaps all, are much more in favour of on-the-job training for young journalists than Polytechnic Schools of Journalism. We did, however, obtain our "skills training" (shorthand, typing — the equivalent to today's multimedia skills) from outside providers, mostly private schools.

    Good luck for your history of television—where my own background includes working for both state-owned channels at different times and producing series as an outside contractor (with other "private" freelancers), funded by state-owned New Zealand on air but screened on one of the "state-owned entity" channels. All of which might explain my experience of good (Radio New Zealand National) and poor (the current state of TVNZ's current affairs or lack of such) in state-owned broadcasting, compared with the good (most TV3 News) and "poor" (much of private radio talkback programs) in the "privately-owned" broadcasting sector.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    A couple of quick points - hopefully to see things in context:

    1. I don't advocate "learning all the history" of television in a day or a weekend or writing a 25-year history over a short time. But anyone wanting to take a course in 21st-century "video editing" (and that is the context) does not need to spend months or a year learning about the history of television. If he needs it for some sort of "standardised test" that includes the history of television, he or she can read any key points quickly and then get straight on to learning how to actually edit video with all the new technologies and methods available.

    2. On the report of the "Inter-Party Working Group on Social Choice", the major concept it advocates revolves around "personalized learning plans and pathways". I strongly support that "concept" (but disagree strongly with many of the report's recommendation to achieve that goal). My two favourite private schools (both out of this country) have excellent but different methods of setting up such programs; my favourite high school (a public one in Britain) has another brilliant scheme. And two of my favourite New Zealand schools (Discovery 1 primary and Unlimited high school in Christchurch) were actually set up so that each student could follow through a personalised learning program, using "all of Christchurch as a classroom" and (online) all the world. Both those latter schools are "state schools" set up under the "Special Designation Category" provisions of the New Zealand Education Act. (Although I consider I made only a minor contribution to it, I was chuffed to be invited to be a member of the Estblishment Board of Discovery 1; and I still love taking overseas school leaders, state and private, to visit both the Christchurch schools.

    3. I have found principals and teachers at all the five schools mentioned here ("state owned" and "privately owned") to be highly dedicated and damned great at their jobs. (Incidentally I do not equate "state" and "public" as being identical)

    4. It would be great if, in the continuing NZ debate on "national standards" and "personalised learning", the Minister of Education and all political parties here could look at many "best practice" examples, such as those mentioned here, in an open-minded way.

    5. In case of any doubt, I personally challenge the idea, as stated in the "Multi-Party Working Group's Report", that some 5% of students are "gifted and talented". Each of the founders of the five schools mentioned here believes, as I do, that all children are potentially talented, but in different ways, and great schools help them develop those talents inside a broad holistic education.

    6. After the adoption of the "Tomorrow's Schools" report, all New Zealand schools became "charter schools". Even such a simple term as that (even words such as "national standards") can have different meanings in different countries. The International Baccalaureate Organisation, incidentally, was formed was simply to make sure that no "state school system" in future should follow the example of the Nazi and Fascist Governments in insisting that only their version of history was taught in "state" schools. Instead, all schools should encourage an open-minded search for the truth.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    (By the way: most schools are used foe about 210% of the waking hours of their sudents.. Think that great ? Or crazy? )

    Typing mistake: should read 20%.

    Russell: re

    I'm not sure if the triumphal tone of your response was warranted by the quality of your argument there, Gordon.

    Sorry, mate: I just feel I have tuned in, at times, to a Leighton Smith talkshow (the comments, not your generally well-structured open-minded discussion-leads).

    But I guess, with up to 4000 contributions from some of your team, I should keep reading your blog each day (and Graham Beattie's Blog, and others around the globe) but perhaps not get involved in follow-on discussions. Otherwise, at almost age 79, my 120 over 80 blood pressure may finally rise.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    Ah, now I have got it.

    So: Giovanni, in his 4020th post to Russell's website, after being challenged on his claims about the top US RESEARCH universities, starts quoting an article about how many US (non-research) universities have been quoted at the bottom of world tables.

    Welcome back, Rush.

    Then, after challenging me to name even one private school who accepts students without discrimination of grades (and I quote the two that, from my own personal experience, are the best in the world (to be fair, I should have explained the best that I have personally visited in the last 20 years of personal and in-contact research), and I mention two that I am personally associated with . .

    comes back: "Too bad it's hardly likely to solve the issue of the ones that won't take those kids." (a completely different issue).

    And then, in answer to the charge that he's sounding like Rush Limbaugh from "the left", comes back: "Oh, I see. So you want a free market approach so that we'll somehow produce these marvellous 'world class' research universities in spite of our lack of money to fund them, but you won't entertain any of the drawbacks. Well, that was a fullsome debate! Sorry for bringing up an impolite fact."

    Yeah. Right? Can't remember arguing for a "free-market" or any other discussion, except for an open-minded debate comparing all the best things that work in the world, analysing them, comparing them and then seeing if we can come up with something better.

    I thought I had spelled out how, around the world (and especially in NZ) I had found some great private and public schools (mostly public) and teachers who were and are achieving incredible results for students. Now I am wanting "a free-market approach so that we'll somehow produce these marvellous world-class universities."

    Sorry, guys, but I thought this was advocating the scientific the scientific method (but then I left school— public one— illegally at 14).

    Now comes "Islander" ( in his 1865th post), saying:

    "Gordon Dryden: By 'private school', you mean a 'school that teaches students for money? Yes?"

    Answer: No. All schools cost money to run, and some are paid for out of taxes (money) and some are paid for in contributions from students or their parent (money). In both cases, teachers are paid with money, and so are all other operational expenses. In some systems, if parents opt out of the government funded system, the Government allows them a tax rebate or other dispensation to back their own judgement. So whether teachers are employed by gthe government or privae schools, they teach students as a career (and often with great passion) and are paid with money.

    Let me quote a personal example and a current one:

    1: In 1945, at a state secondary school in Christchurch, I wanted to become a journalist, and wanted to learn shorthand and typing. The school ruled that only girls could do that:-) They also insisted that I should read only one book in three months ("The Merchant of Venice") and be tested on that, when I was personally reading four books a week. So I left school and (a) worked on a farm while I took and paid for two courses from the International Correspondence School, in journalism and short story writing (fortunately they earned me a job in journalism) and then (2) I went to Gilbey"s private "commercial school in Wellington" and (at a fee which I paid) learned shorthand and typing.

    So in both cases, two non-government schools helped me achieve my ambitions - from non-Government companies that provided a service (for which I paid) and, out of that, they earned both an income to pay the people who taught me and (hopefully a profit).
    In other words, in the govt system that diseriminated against boys, and in the other two, both employees "taught for money".

    "!00% open acceptance policy" = the parents/guardians will pay whatever is asked, yes?

    That was not the question raised: Giovanni's claim was that
    "private" (and I will look as that separately in a moment) schools deliberately screened out those whose low pass-rates would lower their reputation.

    "And these schools are not found in NZ, right?"

    The two I mentioned are not in New Zealand (when challenged to name one).

    But how many would you like to name? Let's start in Auckland where I live:

    1. It is a a standing joke (unfortunately) that, wherever they go after high school, 39 percent of Auckland university students drop out at the end of the first year, and the next 11 percent (making 50% in total) drop out at the end of year 2. Universities don't complain because their income (what teachers do for money) comes from the government "from bums on seat" and not for results.

    2. In the field where I earn my income (interactive, multimedia communications), we have some great competition from three big state-funded (does that mean "public") institutions: Unitec, Auckland University of Technology and Manukau Institute of Technology; and from some independent ("private"?) colleges such as the Media Design School. Now, if you want to check on who the smart employers employ (in, say, the field of video editing), let me tell you what you will find: Even the good graduates come after a three year course for which their institutions are paid for "bums on seats" for three years — and it's a joke that up to a year of that is spent on "the history of television (which any student could learn in a weekend). However, the students of Media Design School don;t normally attend it until early in their 20s (after some early work experience—as I did in journalism—), and then spending between 9 months and 18 months. at their own expense, to learn the specific work-skills they have decided they need.

    So "by private school, you mean a school that teaches for money"?

    No: in my experience, great teachers — whoever their employers — teach because they love it, and almost the money they earn is incidental (invariably they can earn much bigger money in international schools around the world — those, for instance, which oil companies have to run in the tropics to attract staff).

    Tom Parker: Good queries on "bulk funding" - or, really, the concept of local communities running "charter schools" (ie, all New Zealand schools) and then receiving the same govt income as other schools with the same number of pupils.

    For the life of me, I can't see the argument against this. I call it democracy.

    Let's go back to the argument for setting up Tomorrow's Schools at the end of the 80s but in practice in the early 90s.

    1. Instead of splitting the total govt budget between a govt dept of Education, regional education boards and individual schools, the Picot Report (commissioned by David Lange as PM and Minister of Ed) opted to abolish the dept and Education (apart from a small advisory Ministry) and turn all funds over to individual schools to both (a) achieve national curriculum standards and (b) aim to achieve excellence in specific fields (like dual-Polynesian and English languages).

    2. Even before that came in, New Zealand had excellent schools achieving that aim. Let me tell you of three I personally visited in 1990:

    * Carterton Intermediate, which ran its own trout hatchery, forestry and farm ( in a rich farming area), so students learned to link their classroom (and school studies) with their farming community. (OK, gang, please write your blog why you feel it is better to be lectured in a classroom than to use the whole world as your school?)

    * Tikipunga High in Whangarei, already the model for setting up a high school where students of any age (I interviewed an 80 year old learning to type) could achieve their goals. (By the way: most schools are used foe about 210% of the waking hours of their sudents.. Think that great ? Or crazy? And

    * Freyberg High School in Palmerston North, the scene of an incredibly innovative experiment in "integrated studies", where students (in a joint research partnership between Massey University, IBM and Freyberg) went out and studied real-world problems and produced great results.

    Islander: I still get a kick showing video around the world to demonstrate those great New Zealand initiatives — and many more — all at state-funded ("public?") schools. (Guess which union chose to make sure these did not go ahead?)

    The Picot Committee's report recommended that individual school communities should encourage their schools to be innovators in similar ways, and that the money saved, by slicing through bureaucracy, should be given to the locally-elected school board to achieve their innovative goals.

    In my view, it was a great disaster that the teacher unions united to stop this kind of initiative because they opposed "bulk funding" for individual schools.

    For the record, I am not anti-union (former Slaughtermen's Union Delegate at a leading meat company, later editor of the Meat Workers Journal).

    But teachers' unions (around world) represent their own vested interests as much as the Medical Associations and tenured university professors.

    Have a stimulating night, team

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    In fairness:

    Under Section 162 of the Education Act (1989) a university is defined as having the following characteristics:

    (i) They are primarily concerned with more advanced learning, the principal aim being to develop intellectual independence:

    (ii) Their research and teaching are closely interdependent and most of their teaching is done by people who are active in advancing knowledge:

    (iii) They meet international standards of research and teaching:

    (iv) They are a repository of knowledge and expertise: and

    (v) They accept a role as critic and conscience of society.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    From Giocvanni's:

    Comment: Have you ever known a private school to go out of its way to take the bottom 20% of anything? I sure haven't.

    Factual response (instead of talkback conjecture): Yes. The two best private schools in the world I regularly visit and consult for, each with 3,600 students from early childhood to senior high schools, have a 100% open acceptance policy.

    My comment: The United States has the best research universities in the world.

    Giovanni: It also has some of the worst ones. Nobody has ever denied that elitist education works for the elites, you know?

    Response: I perhaps should have said: the US has eight of the best ten research universities, headed by Harvard (with 40 Nobel Prize winners, one off the criteria for most research "list"), and UC Berkeley generally second (UC Berkeley students and faculty were, of course, in the forefront of demonstrations against the US Government's war on Vietnam). Britain has two: Oxford and Cambridge.

    So please, Giovanni: which would you say are the worst US research universities, with emphasis on "research" (opposed to "teaching" universities? (I know of and have visited several "teaching universities" — especially their Education Departments— and found them appalling; I have also visited others and found them excellent in parts and inferior in others.)

    Giovanni again: And what America also has, is universities that are not allowed to criticise their sponsors, even when they enslave children to produce their sneakers. Is that what we want for New Zealand?

    Of course not. And tut, tut, Giovanni: that sort of question is worthy of a Rush Limbaugh when he occasionally (but very occasionally) allows a critic on the air.

    So let me ask you: Is that the level of debate and discussion you expect to come up with answers to NZ's big challenges? If so, I'm in the wrong discussion group on the wrong subject on the wrong blog.

    For Hillary: From the last time I took part in a debate with a member of its faculty, it was Massey, not Victoria, that proclaimed (in his words) to be "the critic and conscience of society". I hate putting people into dogmatic "left" or "right" boxes, but he was definitely of "the left".

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

  • Hard News: Research Fail,

    Apologies 2000 words is too much for you, Giovanni.

    You should try reading a book some time. Most are longer, except The Two Minute Manager.

    Just kidding.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 30 posts Report

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