Thursday, May 25, 2023

Derek Mackie: Well below average - standard not achieved!

Hutt Valley Memorial College - 1994 

“Come in Christopher. Take a seat” 
“Thank you, Headmaster.” 
“Now, we’re here to review your achievements, or otherwise, in the subjects you attempted last term working towards School Certificate. 
Before we get into the details, how do you feel you performed overall?”
“Rather well, sir, if I’m honest.” 
“And are you?” 
“Am I what, sir?” 
“Being honest? 
You see, your view is somewhat at odds with your actual grades. In fact, in a number of subjects I have real cause for concern.”
“Are you sure you haven’t mixed me up with someone else, sir?” 
“In cases like this, which languish well below the norm, I always double-check. You’ll be disappointed to learn that what follows is most certainly all your own work - if you can call it that.” 
“I don’t understand, sir.” 
“That’s self-evident from your marks, boy!” 

“No, what I mean is there has to be a mistake. 
Perhaps if we look at each subject I can clear up your confusion and ensure that my final marks reflect my true abilities, sir.” 
“I see. 
So, despite the whole teaching staff thinking differently, you’re suggesting we have a genius in our midst who is far ahead of his time and simply misunderstood? I’m looking forward to this.
Let’s start with Maths, shall we?” 

“That’s one of my favourite subjects. Numeracy is crucially important but we have to make it real world or kids won’t relate to it.” 
“I absolutely agree, Hipkins. 
Now, the assignment required you to complete a balanced budget for a family household using the income specified and prioritising the expenses listed, leaving out non-essential items with your justifications. 
Your solution was to spend everything, resulting in a 30% deficit which you accounted for by suggesting the household apply for a Working for Families, Job Seeker and/or Supported Living Benefit firstly, and then additional borrowing on a credit card which can be covered by an Emergency Costs or Temporary Additional Support Benefit.” 
“Exactly, sir.” 
“I’ve never heard of half of these benefits."
"Strictly speaking, most of them don't exist.... yet.  But they should, and I'd be proud to be part of ensuring this happens."
Did anyone help you with this?” 
“My Uncle. He deals with numbers all the time, statistics mostly, in his job at the Ministry of Social Development.”
“Ah! All is becoming clear.”
“To back up my benefits strategy I stated that my imaginary household was Maori or Pasifica, so benefits would automatically be granted. 
Other ideas I had but didn’t use were an adopted child in the whanau, so Orphan Benefit would apply. And one member of the household very likely could have just been released from prison so a Steps to Freedom Grant would be payable. 
I went into a lot of depth on this assignment and really thought outside the square, sir.” 
“And yet, you failed spectacularly! 
The point of the exercise was to demonstrate how the family could make ends meet while eliminating discretionary items and avoiding debt. 
Not spending up large at the taxpayers expense!”

“Let’s move on to History. 
The assignment was to write an essay explaining the pros and cons of colonialism in modern-day New Zealand.” 
“I’m passionate about the History of Aotearoa and righting the wrongs of colonialism. That’s why this assignment was perfect for me.” 
“Was it? 
Your essay was completely biased and focused only on the cons while making some startling statements about pre-European Maori culture that suggested it was a veritable Garden of Eden with iwi living in harmony with nature and themselves. This is contrary to the current history curriculum and has no basis in fact. 
Your teacher initially mistook your paper for creative fiction, then thought she’d lost the rest of your assignment covering the pros, but after checking with you realised her error ... .and yours.
Any help with this one, Hipkins?” 
“My Aunt was an invaluable reference source, sir. She’s a lawyer for the Waitangi Tribunal and a vocal maori-rights activist so she knows all about this stuff. She says what we get taught in school is white-mans history and is racist. 
When I leave school I want to work towards changing that.” 
“The way you’re going, you may not leave school…at least not with any worthwhile qualifications.” 

“Next we have Economics. 
You were asked to set out the main conditions for low inflation. 
You advised massively increasing government spending across all sectors, fueled by borrowing; expansion of the public service workforce; indexing benefits and public sector pay to inflation; and embracing te ao Maori in all fiscal management, including the Reserve Bank of NZ. 
Were you deliberately trying to fail this assignment, Hipkins?” 
“In truth, economics doesn’t interest me much - I don’t really get it. But that’s what Aunt and Uncle said. They’re right about everything else.”
“You obviously look up to your relatives and that’s admirable but can I suggest that if you want to pass your subjects you need to listen to your teachers and other people as well. Getting a range of ideas allows you to assess everything and form a balanced view. 
Your Aunt, in particular, seems to have fairly extreme beliefs which certainly don’t fall within mainstream opinion.” 
“Well, not yet, sir. Auntie says the public don’t know what’s going to hit them in the next 20 years or so. There’s a new world order coming and the majority are too meek or disinterested to stand up and speak out against it. 
She’s amazing and calls herself a social justice warrior. Both her and Uncle are very politically active and say they’re the pioneers of a new progressive brand of socialism. They keep telling me that by the time I’m grown up people like them, and me, will revolutionise New Zealand and the World.”
“Really? Time will tell, I suppose. 
Look, you’re not a stupid boy, Hipkins. You can be resourceful and, indeed, you have an active imagination but you do seem particularly prone to indoctrination and you clearly have a predisposition for the far-Left political school of thought. 
So tell me. What do you want to do when you leave school?” 
“My Aunt and Uncle want me to go to University. They don’t really care what degree I get as long as it's a BA. Neither of them like science. They say it’s a western construct which is used to control colonised peoples like Maori and enforce white male privilege. 
Varsity’s where activism starts, they say. I can meet the right, well actually Left, kind of people and hopefully go into the public service or government and effect real change.” 
“Very impressive. But what do you want to do?” 
“I just told you, sir. I'm in complete agreement. 
Ultimately, I’d like to be Prime Minister of New Zealand.” 
“Goodness. A lofty goal, indeed.” 

“I don’t want to crush your ambitions at such an early stage in life so I’m letting you re-submit the three assignments we discussed. Now, remember. Stick to the brief and the course content if you want to pass. 
And Hipkins - don’t let me down.” 
“I’ll do my best, sir.”
“Aunt and Uncle say sometimes you have to hide your true values and pretend to believe in something else to achieve the outcomes you want. 
That’s progressive socialism in a nutshell, Auntie says.” 
“You’ll make the perfect politician, Hipkins.” 

Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.

1 comment:

Allan said...

written in Dereks usual satirical fashion, which makes it great fun to read.
Sad fact is though; every word is accurate and perfectly describes NEW ZEALAND today..