A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Australian universities cash in
Previous entry: Weirdos?
Saturday December 15 2007

Do you think of New Zealand as an idyllic land of sheep, fields and happy smiley Sound of Music kids.  Think again.  New Zealand seems to have all the same problems as everywhere else, and if it is true that New Zealanders are famously vigorous people, maybe even more.

As he watched, the girl being restrained suddenly lashed out. One teacher got injuries including cuts on her arm and the other teacher a black eye. That was bad enough.

When the second incident occurred two days later it was “like the 100-year flood” for Tyson.

About 3pm a 12-year-old boy was asked to leave a class because he was disruptive. The woman teacher spoke to him outside the class and he swore at her.

She asked him to leave the school grounds and he instead punched her, making her head strike a door. She suffered a swollen cheek, bleeding nose and bruising to her right eye.

Five days earlier Hamilton Girls’ High School was the scene of a vicious attack by three girls on a 14-year-old student who was taken to Waikato Hospital with serious facial injuries.

There have always been fights in schools. Many will remember those playground scraps when a circle of kids gathered around two boys going hard at it.

Eventually the spectacle would be broken up by a teacher.  But students hitting teachers twice in one week? Girls bashing others so badly they are sent to hospital?

I genuinely believe, first, that this kind of problem is not going to go away, and second, that the answers are going to be very radical.  Basically, children who assert their power in this kind of way are going to have to be treated as adults rather than children.  Not obliged by law to go to school.  Allowed to work for money.  Allowed to leave home if home is uncongenial.  And criminally responsible if they then behave criminally, just as adults are already criminally responsible if they behave criminally to children.

The New Zealand education system sucks says this rebellious lady, who didn’t send her kids to school as regularly as the authorities wanted.  The reports makes it sound like she was making up her excuses as she went along, but should she have to?

This, for instance ...

“I made them do research. My kids are really bright.”

... doesn’t ring true.  Although she apparently does have an internet connection, so maybe she did and maybe they are.  What I wanted to read was some quotes from the children, to find out what they think about all this.  But the rule now is that they have to be protected from that kind of thing, and as of now, I guess that’s right.  Still, I hope somebody did ask them.

But, even supposing that these children will indeed become underclass monsters from hell if this woman continues to derange their lives (supposing that this is what she is now doing), does that mean that the kids should now be forced to go to school?  Shouldn’t schools, you know, attract them.  It’s more big answers to an apparently rather small question, but suppose the school leaving age was lowered to zero, the state stopped spending any money at all on education, and people just set up and paid for whatever schools they thought were a good idea.  Wouldn’t the best of these places be very nice, and wouldn’t niche markets (like kids whose mothers didn’t want to be bothering with particular sorts of clothes) be better catered for than now?