Sunday, August 25, 2013

Don't worry baby, everything will turn out alright (The Beach Boys)

This week has been about senior benchmarks (a.k.a. mocks, assessment opportunities, tests, exams).

Whatever you call them, it means two things to teachers the world over.

One - boring boring supervisions (there is only so much you can read on the hall walls where the students are sitting their exams).

Two - a seemingly endless marking grind (reading the same stuff over and over again makes my brain hurt).

Next week will be about students clamouring for their grades. They seem to forget that it takes them three hours to sit but we have to mark more than one student's work!

How did it come to this?

Ha ha - oh yeah baby!

Love and peace - Wozza

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dry your eyes Sunday girl (Blondie)

Life can gain a kind of predictability and routine after a while.

Sundays for me, these days, are about getting up to go to the Otane farmer's market in the morning to get some fresh bread and veggies, then marking student work and planning the week's classes in the afternoon.

I love routine!

Many years ago Sundays were also about watching Match Of The Day on TV. It was the only way we ever saw the English Football games from the previous week. In those days, England was not only on the opposite side of the planet, it was also in another dimension. The bright NZ summer sun would shine on my TV screen, often fading the colour to buggery, but we'd have some football.

Then satellite TV came along and Marshall McLuhan was right - we became a global village and wonder of wonders, Sky showed all the games live whenever they were on (often at ungodly hours - Sky couldn't fix the time/other side of the planet thingy).

Nirvana! England not only became a lot closer but also seemed to be (almost) in the same dimension.

Now, in NZ, Sky has lost the rights to broadcast premier league games. Instead, they are available for a fee on the interweb, but I'm not signing up to watch games on my computer. No way Jose (Mourinho).

It's not all dire news.

TV ONE has secured one game to play - you guessed it - on Sunday afternoons.

Yesterday it was MUFC destroying Swansea. The news elsewhere was that Arsenal had lost at home to Aston Villa.

Suddenly it seemed like I was back in the turgid late seventies again, in another dimension. Luckily the rain was persisting down - about the only saving grace.

At home. To Aston Villa. Aston Villa who were fighting relegation last season.

What was that I was saying about predictability?

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. Whanau member JSJ sent me this snap from school. The news had come through that Wenger hadn't bought any new players for the new season.

Don't ask about the cow! I don't think I dreamed this...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

I'm trampin trampin, try'n-a make heaven my home... (Patti Smith)

Bin a big week this week. Big week. Bigger than big for a secret achieving mountain man. Yep - me (stop sniggering at the back).

Wassup? Been smashed by a snowball fight club while trampin' to hell and back and puttin' my body on the line; been wrestling with my skiing demons, going beyond human pain thresholds, laughing in the face of death, been forging a path over a volcano and eating food prepared by students.

The things I do.

Looks innocent enough right?

Twas Year 12 camp: a day spent crossing over the ACTIVE Tongariro volcano (don't call it a..shhhh..mountain - Ms Woods will have your guts!);  and a day dodging snowballs on the ski slopes of another ACTIVE volcano (Ruapehu) on the desolate central plateau of Nu Zild in a place cunningly called - Happy Valley. Ha!

Not for nothing did the area provide the scenes for the most sinister of the Lord of the Rings locations, Mordor, the strong hold of the dark Lord Sauron.  

Impressed? You should be. It was hell I tell you. Hell.

Oh sure - the photos reveal the surface 'fun' but look harder at these faces and you'll see the pain below the surface.

Poor wee mites. Bless. They never knew what hit 'em.

As the trampin' continued the girls were herded into small groups and given a teacher and an alpine guide to traverse the volcano. Here's my lot. I took the picture shortly before Amy charged at me with the ice axe. You've read/seen Lord Of The Flies? A walk in the park compared to these girls!

Although the weather wasn't flash the views of the blue lake were spooky like.

The journey down the volcano was tough. Tougher than tough, but eventually we staggered down the track to get a lift back to our base camp.
Day three saw us conquering said slopes of Ruapehu but I was too busy dodging snowballs to take any snaps, sorry 'bout that. Let me reassure you, though, that a ripper time was had by all.
Love and peace - Mountain Man

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shine on (The Hollies)

Post script to the UEFA Euros I had fun watching recently: Germany won the final for the sixth time in a row (I got that wrong in my initial post - they'd won it 5 times in a row before this final).

They deserved it too. Norway put their heart and soul into the game but muffed two penalties and no German side is going to ever let up in a final competition.

What is it about them that makes them so formidable on the football field? Man are they tough to beat! Every year makes the 1966 England win ever more remarkable.

Anyway - it was a great competition.

Interesting today in class with my amazing Year 9 English class.

My students have finished a poetry anthology of their own poems and ones they like. Today they began presenting their one chosen poem to the class. One student picked this poem by Sylvia Chidi about girls/women to present:

If I were a girl
'But I'm just a girl, it feels like a pitiful spell'

If I were a girl
I'll wake up each day
I'll tell myself to go and learn at school
No fancy mini-skirts, No acting cool as a fool
I'll play it safe with a boy
Simple jokes and simple joys
I’ll stand-up for only love and equality
Not for some stupid momentary flattery
These silly lines inspire only immorality

If I were a girl
I think you would understand
How it feels to be constantly disrespected
Treated as a feminine reject even if an intellect
Thought of often as a sexual object or project
I swear I’d be a much tougher woman
I'll take out my dustpan, Let everyone
Start slowly again from where it all began

But I’m just a girl
It feels like a pitiful spell
To be forever taken for granted
Whether I’m multi-skilled or talented

If I were a girl
There will be no wedding bells
Until I'm completely educated as well
I'll always take care of me
I'll always hold onto dreams
And any boy who says he loves me
Will have to work with me as a team

But I’m just a girl
And I don’t want a life of hell
I want to play with cars and not just dolls
And besides a boy I always want to be an equal

This led to a lively discussion afterward about the 'girls can do anything' slogan I remembered from the seventies. The girls indicated to me that while the slogan was good, things had got WORSE for girls/women since then.

I was a tad shocked by that idea and challenged them on it but they were adamant. They are a very articulate bunch and I listened to their discussion (no one, btw, thought that it wasn't worse for girls now).

Made me think!

First thing that came to mind were those UEFA championships. Guess how much time the TV ONE Sports News spent on the event. That's right - none. Instead their was a moronic story about fat, tattooed, pot bellied berks playing darts.

Guess the girls had a point!

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. I'm off on a school camp on the weekend - Y12 and various staff and doing the Tongariro crossing. I'll report back next week when I return, inshallah.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gee I think you're swell (The Turtles)

This morning I watched an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, originally produced in 1963, while I ate my cereal before heading off to work. I'd recorded it on mysky.

I laughed out loud... a lot! And smiled... a lot! And enjoyed it...a lot!

I used to watch the programme way back in the 1960s. I loved it then, and it appears that I love it still.

This seems to be an anomaly. I've recorded and watched other sixties/seventies/eighties iconic TV and the appeal has waned considerably. There are a number of channels now that just show retro TV: Jones and Cue and two. I've taken to sampling old shows to see if they still hold up.

I couldn't last the distance with Mission: Impossible. It was slow paced and proved unable to transfer the excitement from that fuse intro into a whole 60 minute episode. It had dated badly.

The Twilight Zone (the remade one from the eighties, not the original Rod Serling version) has lasted comparatively better because it's not trying to be a wham bam action show. It's purely story driven and once you get past the eighties' hair, fashions and cinematography the story is still providing the momentum.

But each one comes in a distant second to The Andy Griffith Show.

I have delayed watching it because I was a tad scared that it would make me cringe and wonder what I'd loved in the first place. I should have had more faith.

Ron Howard, or Ronny Howard as he was then, gets second billing after Andy and before Don Knotts and he deserves it. He's amazingly self contained and knowing for such a young actor.

Apart from him and Andy's laid back, laconic style and Don Knotts' physical humour and comic timing, the key delight in the show I watched was the fantastic dialogue and interplay between Sheriff Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) and his son Opie (played by Ron Howard).

In this episode Opie is influenced by a spoiled new kid in town who gets a bigger allowance and doesn't have to work for it. Opie tries to get this deal from his pa. Try watching the scene (posted below) without smiling and laughing loudly. If you can watch it and not be moved you've come to the wrong blog!!

The whole scene was warm, natural, funny, not overly sentimental, and idyllic and idealistic in a non cheesy way.

I don't remember ever watching the show in the sixties when I was roughly the same age as Opie (Ron is three years my senior) and wishing, during the opening credits as Andy and Opie carry fishing rods along a country road while the down home whistling happens on the soundtrack, that I was Opie and my dad was Andy.

But watching it now I do somewhat regret that our father son relationship wasn't as tight as the show portrays. It was a good relationship that got better with time but it wasn't as idyllic as Andy/Opie.

There were many reasons for that.

Apart from other things that don't obviously come to mind, we didn't live in Mayberry (no cops with guns in Royal Oak), I had a mum who I spent far more time with (there is no mother role in the show), our dialogue wasn't scripted (worked on until it was 'perfect') and Opie was an only child (I shared my parents with my younger brother).

I did subconsciously bond with Opie I'm sure. He was like a cool older brother from another mother to us all.

Love and peace - Wozza