Category | People

Journalism?

New Zealand Herald Columnist Deborah Hill Cone triumphed US billionaire Julian Roberston and the Teach for America programme he backs through one of his charitable foundations in her recent column. Hill Cone says that Robertson is set to bring the re-named American programme Teach for All to New Zealand. This is not the case and misinformation may have come from New Zealand Herald reporter Audrey Young’s interview with Robertson while she was in New York trailing Prime Minister John Key.

Young stated the Robertson Foundation, his charitable vehicle, were planning to set up a version of Teach for America in New Zealand – Teach for All. This is not the case Teach First New Zealand have confirmed with the PPTA that Teach for All will not be coming to New Zealand. The charitable vehicle Aotearoa Foundation is one of Julian Robertson’s many foundations. Robertson has little direct involvement with it and the foundation did not know he had an interview with Audrey Young, thus the information he gave about Teach for All coming to New Zealand was incorrect. Teach First New Zealand have also confirmed that the woman who established Teach for America and developed a “rock star-type reputation”, Wendy Kopp would not be coming to New Zealand.

The proposed Teach First New Zealand is a collaboration with Auckland University’s Faculty of Education. If approved it would recruit a new group of teachers to work in hard-to-staff low decile secondary schools for two years. Graeme Aitken, Dean of Education at the University of Education told the PPTA the scheme proposes an initial six-week residential summer intensive for top graduates. The scheme is not closely modeled on Teach for America but draws closely from the Teach First Britain scheme which has the backing of a university.

When the PPTA were asked by Deborah Hill Cone about its position on her volunteering in her daughter’s school we replied that we had no issue with this as a qualified teacher would be supervising. Hill Cone claimed the PPTA were against members of the community “chipping in” to help schools. This is simply incorrect. PPTA president Robin Duff said it was problematic when unqualified members of the community started teaching in a core capacity, full-time as this would see a return to the 1960s and 70s when there was no policy to have trained and qualified teachers.

Hill Cone misquoted and stripped the context out of PPTA’s response with little regard to the consequences, she revealed a blatant disinterest in understanding the factual details that lie behind Teach First New Zealand and failed to make contact with them to clarify how they intend to operate their programme if approved.
She dismissed the PPTA’s attempt to help her understand and clarify that Teach for All is not coming to New Zealand.
She failed to mention that PPTA work alongside Teach First New Zealand and that we’ve commissioned a literature review to find out what is working well nationwide with similar schemes and what is failing countries.

The New Zealand Herald have conceded that they made a mistake and have agreed to publish a correction and give the PPTA space in the paper to state its position accurately.

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Top Ten Stories of the Year

The good, the bad, and the beautiful.

1. New Bolivian legislation that gives rights to Nature.

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.”

2. The real effects of the cuts in Britain:

“While foodbanks may be an alien concept to many living in Britain today, the number of these centres helping the needy has grown rapidly in the past few years. The Trussell Trust, which runs most of the UK’s foodbanks, says the number of its centres has risen from 20 in 2008 to 65 today.

Disability experts believe that being forced to rely on charitable food handouts will seriously damage the health of people already battling chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and ME. They warn that some may even turn to crime, such as shoplifting, to make ends meet.”

3. So this experiment with capitalism obviously isn’t going so well at the moment, but luckily there are some alternatives out there, such as participatory economics.

“Participatory economics is an economic system developed to foster six broad values: equity, or fair and just outcomes; solidarity, or caring and mutual respect among all people; diversity of outcomes which would benefit everyone; participatory self-management, or having a say in decisions to the extent that one is affected by their outcomes; efficiency, or not wasting resources; and environmental sustainability, which requires leaving behind stocks of each kind of natural capital as large as those we enjoy today.”

“As defense giants like Boeing, Raytheon (RTNFortune 500), and Lockheed Martin (LMTFortune 500) increasingly seek to peddle their wares to well-financed (sometimes by the U.S.) international customers, they have a surprising ally: the President. “Obama is much more favorably disposed to arms exports than any of the previous Democratic administrations,” says Loren Thompson, a veteran defense consultant. Or, as Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association, puts it: “There’s an Obama arms bazaar going on.”

“In 2011 the end of NATO as a collective security alliance is seen in four events: the intervention in Libya, the downsizing of proposed US ballistic missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan and the creation of the Visegrad Group.”

7. Whales make and share their own pop music!

“Music mania is sweeping the ocean, and all the young male humpback whales are in on the latest trend. A new study reveals that, just like humans, humpback whales in the South Pacific follow musical trendsthat change by the season. Moreover, these songs always move from west to east across thousands of miles of ocean—from the east coast of Australia to French Polynesia—over the course of a year or two. The authors say it’s one of the most complex and rapid patterns of cultural evolution across a region ever observed in a nonhuman species.”

8.  The biggest company you’ve never heard of: Serco

“As well as thanking God for his success, CEO Chris Hyman is a Pentecostal Christian who has released a gospel album in America and fasts every Tuesday. Coincidentally he was in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 on the 47th floor addressing shareholders.  Serco run navy patrol boats for the ADF, as well as search and salvage operations through their partnership with P&O which form Maritime Defence Services. Serco run two Australian Jails already, Acacia in WA and Borallon in Queensland. Theyre one of the biggest companies In the UK for running electronic tagging of offenders under house arrest or parole.Serco are in one of the two favoured bid consortiums for the new Sydney metro rail line. Here are some amazing corporate videos from Serco, we fully recommend both if youre a fan of Verhoeven-esque corporate propaganda. You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo4_dF_Z1q0

9.  How we were convinced Climate Change is a hoax, by Chomsky.

10. The Authoritarians.  Why do people follow leaders when they know its is causing harm?

“Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want–which often is  something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.”

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Coincidence and Anna Z

Sometimes life seems to meet itself coming around a corner… where an incident occurs which relates to an idea or concept that you’ve been thinking about; working on; that’s been occupying your mind.

I’ve been finding this a lot recently. It’s almost as if there’s matter amassing around your head, like a magnetic cloud, which appears to attract other instances of this concept that has assumed a different form.

And it doesn’t only seem a coincidence. There are many theories of time coalescing and forming in different patterns: chaos theory; the butterfly effect; periodic orbits.

The theory of periodic orbits (Robert L Devaney) posits that time itself is cyclical in the way that a snail’s shell is, so that you come to similar occurrences over a number of years, which are however marked in some way as different – a different size, shape, patterning, or perspective – which means that the incident itself builds on its parallel that existed before, resulting in the end in the formation of something new, something that has been created as a ‘thing’, only because you have noted the parallel incidents and thus built them up and constructed them to create a recognizable form.

From a statistical perspective, coincidences are inevitable and often less remarkable than they may appear intuitively. Mathis says that an example of this is ‘the birthday problem’, where the probability of two individuals sharing a birthday within a group of 23 people already exceeds 50 per cent (http://www.jstor.org/pss/2031144).

Carl Jung was particularly interested in the idea that a given set of coincidences is a form of synchronisity: that the experience of events is causally unrelated, yet individuals group them together by their meaning. Since ‘meaning’ is a complex mental construction, the grouping of events is siginifcant only to the person observing the events. The percieved ‘meaning’ suggests the existence of a ‘deeper order’, where the individual is both embedded in an orderly framework and is the focus of that orderly framework.

Recently one such coincidence occurred to me, which prompted this deeper level of interest in the idea.

I am about to go on a ‘family history’ trip, to travel to Hungary, where my father is from, to find out more about my grandparents. We will be staying with my father’s cousins, who I have never met and only some of whom he has met, in a small village of approximately 800 people near the Austrian border. This village is so small that we are staying in a nearby larger village, Gyor, whose population is approximately 130,000.

About a month ago I was a first-time participant in a voluntary tree planting group, which was holding an event to attract more people to engage in the activity. There were about 80 of us who turned up on a crisp beautiful winter’s day, in the hills about 90mins out of Melbourne proper. We were encouraged to plant in pairs, and rotate partners so that we would plant a ‘tree per person’. Given the average planting time this meant we were able to meet approximately 20 new people throughout the day.

As part of this rotation I met woman named Anna Z. Anna Z was herself half Hungarian, and 20 years earlier had traveled to Hungary to find out more about her own father, who came to Australia just after the war, and had died when Anna Z was in her youth.

As it transpired, Anna Z’s father had grown up near Gyor, had left Hungary the year before my own grandfather, had come to Melbourne via the same Italian port, and had settled in the same country town as my grandfather.

I was blown away that Anna Z’s father had partaken on a journey so similar to my own grandfather’s. Had Anna Z’s father known my grandfather? And how was it that I met Anna Z so soon before departing for my own investigative experience, which would mirror Anna Z’s not only via the nature of the quest, but also as because of the similarity of experiences that Anna Z’s father had to my grandfather.

What events had passed that resulted in meeting Anna Z? Was it purely a coincidence that I decided to go tree planting on that Saturday? Is it enough to think that my own magnetic cloud of thoughts of Hungary and my family that swirls around my head gathering momentum attracted me to this activity and this location on this particular day, to plant with this particular woman.

It would be nice to think that meeting Anna Z was an event caused by the ripples and changes of my thought process emitted into the universe – it makes me feel special, significant, and part of a ‘deeper order’. But perhaps I am essentially assigning a form to causally unrelated events; shaping this experience so that it reflects my own thoughts; and thus creating meaning and validation of the significance of my trip.

Emily Hollosy

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