Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All!

Our family father Christmas manufacturing last minute gifts for our 2010 Christmas - another bloody cheeseboard! Only joking Graeme

It is the night before Christmas and it's a beautiful still hot night

After some last minute shopping I spent the day out at my good friends Sarah and Wayne's drinking wine, eating, and enjoying conversation - now sun burnt and tired! Fished up having coffee at the beach and a restful meal with some old friends.

Tomorrow I am having family around for drinks in the morning before going off to eat more food and drink more wine with one branch of our extended family. The weather promises to be superb - the only downer is news of more earthquakes in Christchurch. It doesn't seem fair !

2012 is a 'tipping point' for me - to use an in phrase.

The last few years I have had my house painted and it is now fit for the 21stC. At the same time I have developed my hectare of swamp and bush into a garden of sorts by building bridges and walkways so that it is all now assessable. It is more a nature trail than a garden but my piece of bush ( thanks to owners of the land in the 1930s) has almost every native tree you an think of - including a half dozen 80 year old kauris. While in England I visited Charles Darwin's house ( I am a great fan of Charles Darwin) and he had a walk he used to stroll around thinking up his ideas - I have made a similar walk but not so many ideas!

So the garden has become a new obsession for me.

Towards the end of the year my brother  ( Father Christmas above) and I had a small art exhibition in our home town of Waverley in the local library - a fitting place since our mother was a mainstay of the library in her time. I have to admit my contributions were painted in the 1960s but it has motivated me to take up painting again - in the new year!

After a highly successful birthday party last January I gave a keynote presentation at an Inspired Impact Conference in Palmerston North to over 1400 people. They didn't really come to hear me - the main attraction was creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson. Actually he didn't show because of illnesses but gave his presentation via a satellite link - even took questions from the floor. Brilliant but wasted on our current government and Ministry who seem hell bent on destroying all that is good in primary education.

I saw my keynote as my final performance in education; with the current directions of the government it is no longer a place to be talking about personalising learning or creativity. So that one past obsession out of the way. I even got a big bin a chucked out two cubic metres of educational notes - a mental clean out of sorts. I kept some good bits of course - just in case. And now I have a lot tidier house - for me!

Perhaps the highlight of my year  was visiting old friends in England  ( they had come out to New Zealand for 'our' party - I  have a twin brother.The party was his idea and I am pleased he bullied me into having one. I taught with my English friends in 1969 and 'we' have kept in touch. We all went out for a pub meal with our old headteacher who is now 94!

I have other very important things on my mind but they haven't been sorted yet.

I intend to keep reading and blogging but I am going to wind up the website I started with my friend Wayne a long time ago. I am planning to capture some of the material and use it as blogs so not all will be lost. And , if asked, I will continue to contribute to the Education Today magazine edited by Doug Hislop. Looking back our best fun articles were: New Zealand's 'top schools' ( schools from the far north geographically in New Zealand!) and the articles written after our educational odyssey around  the East Coast.

So Merry Christmas to everyone.

I hope some of my blogs have been of use to you and I hope there are younger people around to take up the fight for creative education while I get on and explore new territory.

Watch this space!


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you Bruce - I really enjoy your blogs and am pleased you will keep them going.We need people like you and Kelvin to keep us alert to what is happening in education - for the worse. So thanks. All the best for new directions.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks - appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for all your writings this year Bruce. They have been inspiring and interesting, and have lead me in many different directions in the classroom.
Have a great break and best wishes for whatever is next.
Struan McKenzie

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks Struan. I intend to keep up with my blogs - has become as bit of a habit but I wont be working with schools as such. Great to know you have found some useful for you.

Anonymous said...

Cheers Bruce. Perfect way to wind up the year and thank you for being who you are, being always what you are and keeping the faith! Even if we dont have your strength of words and will we need you - so blog on through the sunset!!


Vicky said...

Hope you have a great new Year
I met you seven years ago and I asked where do creative teachers go?
I am lucky to be in a school where I can still be creative and teach creative thinking to students.Your blog has kept me going as a creative teacher .Thanks Bruce
I need this inspiration !

Anonymous said...

Bruce you will not post this comment. Like all your post for which you would never allow free and open censure or debate. A trait so common on left wing blogs.

I am glad you are gone from the NZ education system, people like you are the reason we have taken our children from New Zealand to be educated. Your views are extreme and quite frankly out of touch with what parents expect from a modern education system.

It is quite frankly just weird and creepy.

Shame on you.

Mr & Mrs Symonds
Sydney (formally Auckland)

Bruce Hammonds said...

That sure was a 'weird and creepy' comment - hardly sent in the true spirit of Christmas.

And contrary to your view I have only removed one comment (except spam) in almost a 1000 blogs and then because it was a personal attack on an individual.

And I am not 'gone' - just from working directly with schools because they will be so busy complying to the 'top down' 'big brother' requirements of the government.

I am left unsure about who is the extremist. No parent of a school I have ever worked with has thought the ideas I shared 'out of touch'.

So I am left wondering who is 'weird and creepy'- maybe you are just a John Key fan?

Anonymous said...

Good reply Bruce. Be interesting to learn from Mr and Mrs Symonds exactly what extreme educational views they think 'people like you' hold. They must have had an unfortunate experience with schooling in New Zealand to make then so bitter and 'weird and creepy'. I am betting they go to a private school in Oz?

Shame on them!

Aimsy said...

Merry Christmas Bruce,

I am saddened but not surprised to hear that you are choosing to no longer work in schools around the country. The creativity and innovation inside our schools is slowly being eradicated by the pressure to tow the MOE line, tick the boxes and become auto bots. I feel sorry for the kids who are the worse for this deteriorating system and ultimately our country down the line.

I would urge you to keep up the blogging. There is a void in our education system where the vast majority of leaders are becoming the 'yes' people the government is increasingly demanding. The points you raise are always in the interests of kids Something that Mr and Mrs Symmonds from a previous comment don't seem to understand. I am sure the Symmonds are pro National Standards, Performance and Charter Schools. Little do they know that it is there tunnel like view, like the governments, will see the current high status of NZ schooling drop dramatically in the years to come. It wasn't clear what the Symmonds expectations were for a modern day education system but I would have been an interested reader had they done so. The one positive point they did make in their comments is that they are now in Australia, thank goodness.

Have a great start to the new year, enjoy the gardening and keep up the blogging - please.

Your mate in the Bay of Plenty

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks Aimsy.

Your summing up of current directions is right on line -and worse is yet to come.

But never fear I will keep on blogging and sharing ideas for anyone who cares to read them -even the Symonds!

I also would like to know what they think are the hallmarks of a 'modern' education!

Thanks again - keep up the fight!

Anonymous said...

Keep on blogging Bruce
The NZ education system needs that
I am shocked from the negative response of a parent in your blog .What training has she has as a teacher. What criteria is she measuring her child's progress -National Standards
Why has she moved to OZ?Is the educational system better there ?
Her child will be living in the 21st century .Will her child have the flexilibity of skills to cope with change and numerous job roles
Parents can be experts on their children strengths and weakenesses

I am currently in a situation where some of my family are telling teachers what to do -My godson ,is going to be kept back a year.This is totally against my philosophy of teaching of 35 years .But this will happen !
The measure of falure is his inability to read ,spell, and physically write .He has strong mechanical intelligence and strengths in thinking and problem solving and creativity

My daughter had the same profile and is now a top designer in Melbourne .She still cannot spell etc
Keep being there
Cheers Vicky

Anonymous said...

Thanks Vicky.

Students will need both literacy,numeracy and 'twenty first century skills' to thrive in an uncertain future but literacy and numeracy should be taught as much as possible in realistic contexts so as to develop a positive attitude towards them. And you are right there will always be students whose gifts lie outside traditional areas ( the only ones tested) and many of these children will turn out to be the real innovators - that is if their desire to learn hasn't been turned off.

I wonder what sort of school the Symonds chose? One for affluent kids no doubt.

Andrew said...

Happy New Year Uncle Bruce

I enjoyed reading your Christmas blog. It was my first time - I didn't realise you are so contentious!


Bruce Hammonds said...

Hi Andrew

Just a grumbly ex Kiwi living in Oz - doesn't really count.