Number 84, October 2014

Myth & Magic: the NZATE Conference


84As I write this we are still waiting to find out what the new Government is planning for us in the education sector. Of course they will claim that voters have given them a strong mandate for everything they talked about doing, especially more charter schools, despite the clear opposition to them. We want schools that are well resourced and able to cooperate, not left to sink or swim in the surges of the real-estate market. They will also no doubt push ahead with paying a few top teachers and Principals a lot more, despite even more clear and overwhelming opposition to this from education professionals. We want team leaders not CEOs. I haven’t talked to anyone who has any confidence in how these top performers would be chosen. Would it be by the teacher unions, the Principals Association? Would it be the Minister? Perhaps it will be the Mystery of Education?

Whoever decides, it will be yet another example of the theory that if you pay the top people extravagantly then everyone else will benefit. Why do we let this Reagan-esque talk of “trickle down” go unchallenged? Why don’t we start talking about “flow down”? Or even better, of team work and sharing?

I’m pleased to be able to bring you four excellent and varied keynote addresses from the Rotorua Myth & Magic conference – four leading professionals happy to share their experience and ideas: Joe Bennett, Dame Fiona Kidman, Michael Pryor and Ted Dawe. And sharing is what the whole conference was about, from the interchanges that happen in workshops and the mingling over meals to the on-going online links that continue the dialogue.

The reflections here from those newer teachers who were awarded NZATE scholarships to attend the conference show both the range of topics and ideas that resonate with different people, and the clear agreement that it is personally and professionally stimulating to be there. Now is the time to start the planning for July 2015 in Wellington, and July 2016 in Nelson.

My thanks to Judine Ladbrook for her research article  on a critical area of English teaching. It’s good to have input from our tertiary colleagues and to have this access to their research. Jenny McClure’s work as the Ian Gordon Fellow at Victoria University is another welcome addition to this, and I’m grateful to them both for sharing their work with us.

It is also pleasing to me to be able to bring you some of the best work from our students: in this case the Spoken Word winner Harry Flett, whose work is powerful in print even though it is meant to be heard, and the NZATE poetry winners, Maddy Keogan, Martha Wilson and Isabelle McNeur.

My thanks to the reviewers, Jo Morris and Shaun Hawthorne. Please let me know if you come across a new text you would like to recommend or review

Congratulations and thanks to Trident student Frank Lewis for his cover design, based on the arresting and memorable image he designed for the conference.

Best wishes for the final term of 2014. The positive vibe I sensed at the conference and then the CETA 50th celebrations is cause for optimism: let us hope that the new government will support rather than scupper this.

~ Steve Langley


Issue 84  October  2014

Myth & Magic – the NZATE Conference

Steve Langley  6  editorial

Keynote Addresses

Joe Bennett     7  it’s a damn good thing that you do

Fiona Kidman   16 then his heart laughed: the miracle of speech, the magic of  words

Michael Pryor     25  five kinds of magic

Ted Dawe             35 from teacher to writer


Conference Impressions

Joanna Pascoe       49  myth & magic, Rotorua, 2014

Rianne Bidois        52  my reflections: pure magic

Mallory Redhead  53  refreshing my teaching soul

Nicky Chapman    55  the value of never-knowing-enough

Jon Read                57  an injection of inspiration


Peer Reviewed Article

Judine Ladbrook 58  sustained silent reading (SSR): what does the research say?  [Peer Reviewed]



CETA                    71  50th anniversary celebrations

Jenny McClure  72  no one talks like us: a student guide to NZ English

Winning writers

Harry Flett          74 Senior winner – Canterbury Poetry Slam

Maddy Keogan  75   Year 9 winner – NZATE Poetry Competition

Martha Wilson   76   Year 10 winner – NZATE Poetry Competition

Isabelle McNeur  77  senior winner – NZATE Poetry Competition


78 Jo Morris, Shaun Hawthorne