Letter of the week: Barbara Stewart-Brown, Remuera
In The New Zealand Initiative Report, Briar Lipson claims New Zealand teachers are deluded in thinking that teachers should let children direct their own learning. This is linked
to New Zealand's declining educational performance.
While this may be true, a deeper issue is that some students do not have the necessary fluent word recognition and skilled text comprehension to be able to conduct their own inquiry into learning.
Some children are lucky and pick up this language knowledge without foundational, systematic, direct teaching. However there is a significant group who need specific teaching (e.g. dyslexic students and some students from homes where a formal language is not spoken).
A massive body of international research shows evidence that effective teaching of literacy requires the alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, phonics, leading on to spelling and vocabulary. This approach ensures that children can read with understanding, which also underpins their written and mathematics skills. Unfortunately in New Zealand primary schools there is insufficient direct teaching of these essential skills.
Well-educated and trained teachers need to lead the way to students gaining basic knowledge, then later on as they mature they are able to use an inquiry-centred approach and develop their creativity.
Like Joan Bellingham (Weekend Herald, October 3), I found the struggle for redress "almost as bad as the original abuse".
An inquiry was held: unbeknown to the complainants, the terms of reference meant no-one could be held accountable. The inquiry was closed so the public did not know what was going on.
Despite an ACC finding of medical negligence, none of the staff responsible for the abuse (which occurred in 1990) were held to account by their professional associations.
Mediation resulted in an open apology and compensation which could not be disclosed.
Because of an enforced confidentiality agreement, the staff involved are probably still practising to this day, because the public do not know who they are.
I thought an apology would mean I would at last be treated with dignity and respect. Think again. I was labelled as a troublemaker and bullied each time I was admitted for mental health care.
In the end, I was expelled from the service when I took an advocate along to a meeting.
My GP remarked wryly that I was her second patient who only began to get better after being expelled from state mental health "care".
Name and address withheld.
It is a "shameful history laid bare" as your editorial (Weekend Herald, October 3) suggests, and one many were beginning to be aware of in the 1970s, so it's pleasing to see the Human Rights Commission and the United Nations calling for an inquiry.
What will be difficult to examine though, are the strong ties at the time to religious doctrine and its effects on those who governed. People over the centuries had been conditioned to believe what they were told from the pulpit through fear and damnation, and unfortunately this was still working mid-1900s. This righteousness placed a lot of power into the hands of those charged to run institutions. Part of the doctrine taught as acceptable behaviour was to constrain one's emotions, women to obey man (particularly their husbands) and, sadly, children to respect their elders, this with no acknowledgement of violent parents and abusive teachers. It looked good, it sounded perfect, but in reality it paved the way for unacceptable, harmful and degrading treatment of those who did not fit in, or showed vulnerability.
It is pleasing that so many people today are now feeling safe to come out and talk about their past. Today's climate of care, kindness and concern allows us to show and support those speaking out and hopefully, we can make smarter and compassionate changes because of them. But along with those who stand accused, there is also the unmistakeable need to question the damage done by religious doctrine. It affected a lot of people.
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
Field of dreams
In all the pronouncements by business commentators and the current rash of wannabe politicians, there are few if any prepared to accept that for New Zealand the "new normal post-Covid" will be significantly different.
The overwhelming approach to solving our economic woes and the need to at some stage, confront our growing debt mountain, is based almost entirely on somehow regrowing and expanding the economy. That is an economy based on everyone spending more.
This "build it and they will come" attitude overlooks the fact that, for at least the next term of government, there will be less tourism, fewer if any overseas students, lower immigration, few large cruise ships and people both local and overseas far less inclined to get out there and spend.
Surely there is someone in the political landscape prepared to face up to the fact that for some time our spending-based economy will be smaller than it once was. A bold, new approach is needed or the New Zealand dollar will rapidly become a Third World currency.
Don Bunting, Freemans Bay.
Right to be wrong
It is suggested (Weekend Herald, October 3) that one good reason for voting against the End of Life Choice Bill is that I may decide to end my life not because I want to but because I feel I ought to for the sake of my relatives and friends.
But surely that is still my choice and what happened to my right to be wrong, at least in the view of others?
Indeed, if it is to become illegal to make wrong choices we would effectively be criminalising politicians, clerics, judges and, dare I say, journalists.
Gerald Payman, Mt Albert.
Steven Joyce is driven by his commitment to National Party ideology. This is reflected in his willingness to risk further outbreaks of Covid-19 among the NZ populace (Weekend Herald, October 3), including frontline health workers, for the sake of the economy, and echoes calls that have been made consistently by all National's recent leaders, to relax restrictions for the same economic imperatives.
Here we see very definite parallels with National, and US Republicanism, with their same ideological motivations, and demands – personal responsibility, deregulation, lower taxes, less government.
Your editorial (Weekend Herald, October 5) defines the causes for the ongoing US Covid infestations as "Trump's mishandling of Covid-19, and the seeming disregard of senior Republicans for people's health, impossible to ignore".
Faced with our own imminent election, NZ voters need to understand the control a party's ideology has over how they govern, and the policies they will formulate and implement.
All candidates embody their party's ideology. Understand each ideology, and you'll understand how each party will govern.
Clyde Scott, Birkenhead.
While I may not be quite as anatomically explicit as Grant Dalton (Weekend Herald, October 3) in declining an invitation to join a meeting with Health & Safety consultants to discuss the America's Cup Village, I do have a great deal of sympathy for the sentiment he so explicitly conveyed.
My response would have been far less colourful - along the lines "no thanks - can you take care of it?"
This is not to say we don't take H&S seriously - we do. But recently we ran up against a H&S decision, made by consultants, that ultimately cost us a sports contract we had held for years. It added almost $100,000 to our costs and it was, in our view, H&S gone mad. Each year we employ a half dozen contractors for this contract - those jobs have now gone to an overseas company.
When H&S consultants' sole purpose seems to be to cover every remote possibility, no matter what the cost, they place people's jobs at risk as well. And that surely is a Health & Safety issue of its own.
Ian Taylor, managing director, Animation Research Ltd.
Pacific rugby still cannot represent itself. South Africa is withdrawing from Super Rugby, and Aussie teams look uncommitted. Therefore, there is scope for the NZ Rugby Union to develop a new competition that involves the Pacific.
Teams representing ethnic origin would be drawn from players throughout the Pacific (and Australia). There would be five teams - Tonga, Samoa, Māori, Fiji, and European that would play four round-robin matches with a play-off final.
Remembering the popularity of the Tongan Rugby league team that played and won in Hamilton, much interest will be generated within communities and good competitive matches assured.
Grant Lilly, Waiheke Island
A quick word
If Auckland Central's two left feet, White and Swarbrick, were to step aside for its right foot, Mellow, the electorate could get three pairs of feet through the doors of Parliament. Mike Wagg, Freemans Bay.
Evidently hydroxychloroquine is an ineffective prophylactic against that pesky "little flu". Side effects include orange hair and a red face. Ian Swney, Morrinsville.
Scientists in Germany and Sweden have discovered that the small minority of modern-day humans who have inherited Neanderthal genes are more susceptible to Covid-19. Hugh Blomfield, Russell.
On the last TV leaders' debate, Judith Collins was heard to say "I am not mad". During my 81 years, I have never felt it neccessary to tell anyone that. Tony Russell, West Harbour.
Why does the current government always leave it until election time to start promising to fix problems they should have dealt with in the three years that they have been in power? Jock Mac Vicar, Hauraki.
What's so magical about a four-year term? Politicians will always want a longer term. Haven't people heard of Lukashenko? Our three-year term is effectively a six-year term with a check in the middle. Martin Ball, Kelston.
It took 15 years and $2.7 billion to first sequence our genome. Andrew Montgomery, Remuera.
The Weekend Herald quoted foul comments allegedly made by the present Team NZ boss. Whilst such language is clearly, utterly inappropriate coming from a NZ leader of an international event, the real tragedy is that your paper felt it necessary to publish it. Chris Dikie, Mangawhai.
If his language reported is an indication of what the America's Cup does to someone, forget it, forget him as Team NZ boss. Elizabeth Arrowsmith, Mangawhai Heads.
Auckland has descended into insanity. Our roads are a labyrinth of orange cones, detour and stop-go signs. AT and contractors have taken control of the city and turned it into an unending nightmare. J Leighton, Devonport.
The great Sir David Attenborough has a new documentary out. In the words of Prince George, "I don't want to watch anymore". My heart can't take it. Fiona Helleur, Silverdale.
Jessica Mutch Mckay is a journalist of distinction. Robert Wilton, Mission Bay.
I'm again reminded of one of Mark Twain's quotes regarding elections: "Politicians can be compared to diapers. They need changing often, and for the same reason." John Walker, Mission Bay.
Thank you to hospital staff, hotel staff, police, army and all the others who, through their diligence, have got NZ back to level 1. Now Team 5M, let's please do what we have been asked to do and keep us there. Pat Dennerly, Albany.