Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

From Mt Albert Grammar to The West Wing, speech follows script

It was an inspiring clarion call: Education is everything - the "silver bullet" that can change lives and lift nations, Mt Albert Grammar's headmaster said in a speech to his brightest and best.

But to the keen ears of one former pupil, the head's rousing words - delivered at a prizegiving and published in the school's quarterly publication - appeared inspired themselves by a speech delivered in the US TV programme The West Wing.

Both spoke of silver bullets, how schools should be as expensive as the army, and how teachers should be earning six-figure salaries.

Now principal Dale Burden, a confirmed West Wing fan, says he is puzzled by the similarities - saying some of the themes must have stuck in his head.

The similarities struck former MAGS pupil Andrew Voerman, after he read Mr Burden's words.

The 21-year-old, now a journalism student, detailed the similarities in a blog post, in which he believed the similarities were beyond a coincidence.

He said a principal should be especially aware of these issues.

Yesterday Mr Burden said he was genuinely puzzled by the repetition.

He said his words were a summarised extract of a previous prize-giving speech.

"I was paraphrasing some comments made in the original speech from a variety of places."

He said he had no idea some of the phrases had previously been used on The West Wing, of which he was a fan.

"If he is accurate in what was said on The West Wing then the ideas must have really stuck because I have been using these phrases for as long as I can remember, including countless public meetings, conversations and even a previous prize giving.

"I am hopeful of a new series and maybe a cameo role."

Dale Burden: Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster, Term 4 Quarterly Magazine, 2012:

"As I said in my prizegiving speech, education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. It lifts people out of poverty and changes lives. At the heart of education are teachers. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to us, the citizens, just like our armed forces."

Sam Seaborn: Fictional character in the television series The West Wing, speaking in Season 1, Episode 18, broadcast in the United States 2000:

"Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes. We need gigantic monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defence. That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet."

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 17 Sep 2014 19:32:30 Processing Time: 538ms