Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Mike Hosking: Not all truancy situations are created equal

Is there a clue to attendance and schooling in the enjoyment you derive as a student?

We got the letter from the school yesterday about them clamping down on turning up.

You need notes and good reasons, which you have always officially needed, but it’s got lax over the years, as rules do. But they have clearly got the word from the Ministry so the emails get sent out.

This year for one of ours it’s Year 12, which seems to be a golden year. It's a year of enthusiasm, of good teachers and a genuine desire to turn up.

Why? Reason one is the teachers, as many are new and many seem to be good.

Second is, in Year 12 you essentially get to pick the subjects you want. When you choose, you like what you choose and in life when what you do is entertaining or fun or fulfilling you tend to like turning up to do it.

How much of truancy is about hating your teacher, hating your subject or hating the forced nature of it all?

I'm living proof, as I never bunked. No one bunked then the way they bunk now, but they were different days. We also got the strap and the cane and that tended to sort the errant ones out.

But I dreaded school because it wasn’t for me.

Parents are part of the mix, no question. And I'm not sure truancy officers are going to cut through a malaise at home, if that’s the problem.

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As a parent, we've been lax at times; we've taken kids out of school for appointments. And I defend that.

Our newest hurdle this year is driver licensing. There is no online booking system, you have to turn up in person with your paper work and register and then you do the same thing another day when you get your appointment. The helpful people are open each day between 9am and 3pm.

Think about it. They service 16-year-olds and 16-year-olds have to be at school, so you open during school hours.

That makes sense.

We draw the line at holidays. We never pulled anyone out early for holidays because that seemed disrespectful.

The Ministry measures attendance at 90 percent of the time and I'm not sure any of ours would have met that mark. Most of them would have come close but I’m not sure its 90 percent. So maybe we added to the problem.

But here is the real world outworking - all our kids are well and healthy and educated, or, continuing to be educated or working or training or earning and all doing well

So all truants are not created equal, school is not for everyone and that’s not actually a crime. When school has good teachers, more turn up. When you get to choose your path, freedom brings greater participation.

Surely there are a few dots there we can join.

Mike Hosking is a New Zealand television and radio broadcaster. He currently hosts The Mike Hosking Breakfast show on NewstalkZB on weekday mornings.

1 comment:

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

>When you get to choose your path, freedom brings greater participation.

True, but this applies only to the upper secondary years. At the basic education level (defined by UNESCO as the first 9-10 years of schooling) kids need to have basic skills inculcated and that can be a bit of a drag. But you can't have a 10-year-old opting out of arithmetic because s/he doesn't like the subject.
Good teachers tend to work in good schools, which is to say well-managed ones. The best teacher in the world can achieve little and becomes dispirited and mediocre when trying to operate in a shambles. Strong leadership and effective, supportive middle management can turn so-so teachers into good ones.