Number 87 October 2015

oct2015_87English in Aotearoa          

Issue 87   October 2015

CAPITAL LETTERS – the conference


I had always known that conference delegates would look younger each year as I looked older and this was confirmed in Wellington at “Capital Letters”. I was talking to Glenn Colquhoun as we waited for the powhiri to begin and he observed that a lot of the delegates looked to him more like students than teachers. This is surely a good thing for the profession and is encouraging for our Association.

One section of this issue gives you impressions and reflections on the conference from a group of these young teachers – those young or new enough to the job to qualify for the NZATE Conference Scholarship. Their reflections remind us both of those moments of insight and inspiration that a conference can reveal, and also how intelligent and fresh the perceptions of our younger colleagues can be. We need to cherish both of these amidst the administrative clutter of NCEA and the pressure of Term Four reporting and marking.

I don’t need to comment on the Keynote addresses from the conference: our young colleagues have done this more eloquently on pages 32 to 42. I will simply add that I was moved, challenged, amused and inspired enough to want to get back into the classroom again, and I’m going to do just that.

My thanks to Glenn Colquhoun, Karen Melhuish Spenser, and Bernard Gadd for allowing me to reprint their material here. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring you Karlo Mila’s keynote: I hope to have it for the next issue. Thanks also to our six new colleagues for their reflections on the conference experience.

The challenge to shift our thinking should resonate with all except the complacent among us, and whether it is in recognising the different cultures and languages of our islands, or facing significant social and economic changes, there is plenty of scope for us to be creative in how we work with our students.

The next issue, April 2016, will recognise the anniversary of the death of Bill the Bard, so whatever happens to the flag I would love to have articles about how his work resonates among multi-ethnic young people in Aotearoa 400 years later.

The July issue will focus on the important issues young people face and our central role in helping them understand, critique and articulate their thinking about these. There has been plenty of discussion on EnglishOnline about the perceived lack of relevance of Year English for many students, and yet there seems to be a growing need for people to be able to understand and critique the flood of media manipulation that bombards us. Again I await your contributions.

My thanks to other contributors here, David Taylor, Jenichka Cann and Louise Wallace, and to Laura Borrowdale and Paula Townsend for reviews, and congratulations to the winning student writers.

Thanks again to the great Wellington team for their superb organisation of the whole conference experience, and to Jessica Athukorala who re-worked her conference design to be the cover of this issue.

~ Steve Langley


Steve Langley                 6        editorial

Glenn Colquhoun           7        myths & legends of the ancient pakeha

Karen Melhuish Spenser    21     thriving in a world of listicles, astroturfers and instachat

Bernard Beckett           26       shift your thinking

Bret Vogel                     32       reflections on Capital Letters, 2015

Sienna Smale-Jackson   35       a community of people who love words and books

Judy Evans                   37       poetry is meant to be spoken and sung

Isaac Hensman            39       thinking shifted

Jenichka Cann             41       the chance to think, reflect, and critique

Caren Steed                 42       food for thought: food for all

David Taylor                 43       letter from America

Jenichka Cann            47       waitressing vs teaching

NZATE                         49       re-generate – 2016 national conference in Christchurch

Louise Wallace           50       Starling – new poetry resource & publishing opportunity for students

Student Writers          54       winners of NZATE student writing competitions

Reviews                      58       Laura Borrowdale, Paula Townsend

Phil Coogan               62       NZATE President’s Report, 1999 – 2000