Some of my worst nightmares as a kid took place in third form French at Whangārei Boys' High School. It was compulsory for the class I was streamed into.

Being shy, bookish and having little capacity for languages the experience was terrifying and embarrassing.

And so hearing Green Party spokespeople, and recently Nanaia Mahuta from Labour, talk about making te reo Māori compulsory in schools, I do shudder. Memories come back of entering my French class full of dread.

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Everyone will have their horror subjects they wish they'd been able to avoid at school. For some it will be P.E., for others, it will be algebra or having to study Shakespeare's plays. We're all different, with different strengths and weaknesses, preferences and aversions, which we can often do little about.

So, with conflicted thoughts, I decided I should read the Green Party's policy on te reo, to see what's proposed.

They make positive arguments for why te reo should be taught in schools, the most decisive being the very survival of the language. It's under threat, with only 3.7 per cent of New Zealanders fluent speakers.

A network of te reo Māori specialists in schools would undoubtedly give institutional support to the language.

And a mainstream proficiency and general respect for te reo and its richness in human wisdom (mātauranga) would lay a foundation for more individuals to make a deeper commitment to the language.

Reading the Greens' policy also put into perspective what level of compulsion is being talked about.

They're advocating that te reo should be a compulsory part of the curriculum until Year 10 (fourth form for older readers) by the year 2030. In the first two years of high school, they're proposing a minimum of three hours per week. That puts it on the same level as health and physical education.

My concerns about the impact on subject choices were allayed. In the last three years of high school, te reo wouldn't be compulsory.

From my experience as a learner and teacher, we learn best when we're self-motivated. As much as possible we should be enabling our teenage kids (young adults) to find those things they're good at and are motivated to learn. That principle shouldn't be lost sight of.

While I might quibble about te reo being compulsory for both of the first two years at high school, I've no problem with te reo being part of a broad education prior to secondary school.

This would mean specialist teachers of te reo at primary and intermediate schools.
Principals of public schools would be required to have those skills available to them, and they, of course, would need to be funded accordingly.

What's good for te reo though, should be kept in mind for other subjects and skills.
There's scope for including more creative teaching by specialists at primary schools which doesn't detract from the relationship kids have with their prime teacher.

Chinese Mandarin, mathematics, music and drama, philosophy for kids, basic computer programming, Māori carving, organic gardening - the possibilities for enriching our children's experiences through specialist teaching are endless

And that, in the end, is what a few hours a week of te reo Māori will be achieving. Many tai tokerau schools are doing it already.