Education Central Issue 1 2020

Page 1

Issue 1  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

An NZME custom publication


Buffering the back-to-school blues Learning while you work

What skills will you need in the future?

Informs. Inspires. Educates.  |


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Thursday, 30 January 2020  | 3

Contents Back to the future


his issue we’re your survival guide for back to school. We’ve had feedback from parents that some children find going back to school difficult – there can be tears (from both child and parent!). Many kids are a little nervous, albeit excited, about returning to school. We’ve got some great strategies to help your child handle the start of the school year. Then there’s the eternal problem that frustrates just about every parent… the lunchbox. If you have lunchboxes coming home with food untouched, we’ve got some great tips. Those of us with older children considering work or training are already seeing that they’re looking at jobs we’d never heard of when they were first born, such as 3D animators, and even vegan butchers. It’s definitely a case of ‘crystal-ball gazing’ when it comes to the skills that will be needed in the future. Once upon a time, the job you started in was the one you had for life – but not these days. It’s not uncommon for people to change direction in their careers many, many times. And that’s why it’s more important than ever to continue to learn throughout your life, and to grow and acquire new skills. If you’re looking at learning while you work, we help you weigh up your options as well as the pros and cons of onsite and online learning. Wishing you a great start to the year. Nikki Verbeet, Editor

4: Vegan butchering and

6: Are we nurturing the next

8: On-the-job training and

10: The battle of the

12: Online or onsite

14: Helping your kids beat


Education Media Specialist

Production Manager

Nikki Verbeet E

Jill Parker E P 04 915 9798

Aaron Morey E

other future skills: what will you need?


Greta Thunberg?

education: how do you choose?

vocational training: what’s the difference?

the back-to-school blues

4  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

Vegan butchering and other future skills: what will you need? Jody Hopkinson talks to some Kiwi movers and shakers about the skills needed to futureproof your career.


ow we work and what work looks like looks set to change markedly in the near future with five million jobs looking set to be lost to automation by 2025. This doesn’t mean we all need to train as space pilots or extinct species revivalists (yes, that’s going to be a thing!). It means that while some jobs may disappear, many others will, well… appear. Auckland’s Bridgette Johnstone has worked in recruitment for 15 years and is co-founder and consultant of the Recruitment Studio, which specialises in middle management and business support recruitment across the New Zealand workforce. She says human work will be increasingly substituted for automation and that these partial job automations will substantially transform the workplace. “The types of jobs that are more susceptible to automation include physical jobs in predictable environments, and jobs relating to collecting and processing data. Technological advances are less likely to impact work relating to managing people, applying expertise, creativity, and social interactions. These jobs are more difficult to automate because they are less predictable and can require an inherent human touch.” But, says Johnstone, it is important to remember that these changes will not necessarily increase unemployment, but rather affect the retraining, and reallocation, of work. “In order to navigate this more volatile market, people will have to be open to continually updating their skill set. “We’ve already moving into what is known as a ‘gig economy’ where people will have several jobs that might span across multiple industries. The future of work will be less nine to five and fewer hours across multiple jobs.” Johnstone says the importance of shared values, from both an employer and employee point of view, will only continue to be more of a part of our work culture. “People are now far more invested in social issues and causes. If they find their potential job in a company reflecting their value systems, it will make them want to be a part of it.  “Aligning with the right causes, being socially forward, adopting environmentfriendly habits, embracing diversity and demonstrating inclusivity are things people are looking for in jobs now and I believe this will continue and increase.”

She says independence will be important to employees in a way it hasn’t been in the past. “Employees have information available to them at their fingertips.  Google, YouTube and Instagram have made people very self-sufficient. If people encounter a problem, they are most likely to look it up online and troubleshoot.  “People now want to work in a place that celebrates their independence and provides them with opportunities where they can demonstrate their skills.” She says just as her agency must work to manage these changes, so too should the government. “Governments need to be prepared for these changes and ready to support the workforce through this period. Our agency is working to help connect our people with the new jobs of the future and assist with the necessary re-education of these candidates. “Jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. That’s an incredible portion of future jobs with unknown potential. And it is essential that the government is ready for those transformational changes to and within our workforce.”

The future of food With a planet stretched to its limits environmentally, and the likes of China wanting their populace to halve their meat consumption as part of their climate change and public health policy, vegan butcher Flip Grater is at the cutting edge of inventing and developing food for the future. Former Fly My Pretties musician and author, Grater owns vegan butchery and delicatessen Grater Goods in Sydenham, Christchurch. She says she felt “almost compelled” by the birth of her daughter to develop plant-based meats and cheeses four years ago. “After having a child the urgency of doing something helpful for the planet every single day really hit me. Music is important but it didn’t feel urgent enough so because of my love of food and my vegan background and family history I decided to develop vegan food options. Grater became obsessed with creating a plant-based chorizo. “My brothers once were big meat eaters and every family event I’d take my latest sample for them to try. After a year my brothers said, ‘You can stop now – this is better than the real thing’.”

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Once she had developed the chorizo, she developed other meats and cheeses “Now everyone has their laptop open in a meeting and we can contact and opened the deli in late 2018. This Christmas they sold out of their vegan people on the spot to confirm details and even make changes to campaigns turkeys completely. in real time. Our staff will digitally collaborate with people across different time “It’s a great way to honour that background, while subverting it in line with the zones and countries.”   current climate priorities.” Dougal says outside of the huge changes in technology, how his people craft A vegan since the age of 15, Grater is a fifth-generation butcher. Her forebears marketing and communications for companies has also changed exponentially came from butchering in Europe to New Zealand, where her dad is working as a over the 15 years he’s had the business.  meat inspector in Christchurch. “Last year we won the NZ Sustainable Business Award for Communicating Grater has taken the traditions of butchery and matched it with the current Change for an educational campaign we did in Tauranga for the City Council. planetary situation. She now makes seitan (pronounced ‘say-tan’) products, which The remit was to get people to stop flushing wet wipes down the toilet, and are made entirely out of hydrated gluten, the main protein found in wheat. subsequently clogging the sewerage systems. Simply telling people to stop “We have a production area in our deli. Christmas we were flat out doing it worked in the past, but no longer does.  making everything on site using natural ingredients making artisanal “Now you need to get people on board and get them emotionally vegan meats often using chick peas, and wheat protein, and using involved in the issue. First, we reassured them they’re not the spices that you would for a type of meat. problem but part of the solution – because everyone wants “We use similar spices to ones used with meat and imitate the to be part of the solution. We arm them with all the facts, “The future of texture of meat to hit the same pleasure points.” including that unfortunately some of these products have work will be less Grater says making vegan meats and cheeses is her form of been marketed to them as flushable, where in reality none of activism to save the world. nine to five and them are. “We really have to reduce our meat consumption. I have “And then we invited them to join our cause to ‘save our fewer hours across found traditional forms of activism fairly aggressive,” she says. pipes from wipes’. We communicated with a singing pink “Food is one of those things that brings people together multiple jobs.” elephant via social media, in schools and ads on the back and creates happiness rather than being on the outside saying of buses to make a sentient issue important and re-educate something. This is something positive that we can all share.” people about disposing their wipes.”  The deli is a booming success with a team of 10 staff working on Dougal says the ongoing changes in technology is not just a front of house and in production. And as one of just a handful of vegan millennial challenge, it’s an opportunity for the way everyone works in butcheries in the world, the feedback has been “beyond positive”, says the future. Grater. “It’s not about age – it’s about appetite. We’ve had staff who have retrained “It’s not mostly vegans coming in either – it’s people from all walks of life, mostly around digital media for example. If you’re excited about it – that’s the key.” people trying to cut down on meat consumption for whatever reason, who leave with a whole set of vegan meats and cheeses. Operating in te ao Mā āori “Most of our staff are not vegan and come from a wide range of As Dougal says, the key to future communication is to operate from a peoplebackgrounds. The key ingredient with our staff is that they are interested and centred space. Te reo Māori advocate Lee Kershaw agrees that te ao Māori is excited about what we’re doing. the way forward for businesses, the public sector and the education sector. “This is the future of food. Meats and cheeses need not be defined by “As our population diversifies and Māori and Pasifika babies grow up, the the type of protein from which they’re made. We need to redefine what the future is both bright and brown,” he says. words cheeses and meats mean. Traditional animal protein was salted and “A lot of us are in a post-Treaty settlement world and businesses need to be cultured to make it into food. We are using a protein base and using the same able to connect with Māori. The Māori way of operating is different from that of processing – this is still charcuterie and cheese. Pākehā and understanding our ways will only increase engagement.” “Of all our most recent meats, I am most excited currently by the pastrami. Kershaw, Ngāti Kahungungu, is one of many who, by not having the It’s so meaty and juicy I don’t eat it, but it’s made of chickpeas and beetroot. language passed down, paid for previous generations being punished at It even fooled the butchery department at Foodstuffs. It’s amazing what you school if they spoke their mother tongue. But unlike his grandparents and can do with different technology, different moisture levels – it’s really fun food parents, he was able to go to Victoria University and was invited to participate science stuff. I’m more excited about it that I thought I would be. in the prestigious Institute of Excellence in Māori Language, Te Panekiretanga She says she never intended for the plant-based chorizo to lead to o Te Reo Māori. something as big as it has become. Now working in the public service, he encourages people to treasure their te “It just grew into this machine. I hadn’t made a plan to even be an employer. reo as the taonga it is and to study it to a higher level. My partner has just joined Grater Goods. We’re been trying to muddle through “I’d like to encourage whānau who might still have resistance to learning te with staff now we are planning on being more intentional after such an organic reo Māori at tertiary level to embrace and to encourage their children and their start. And now we focus on providing a range of specialty meats to stores and people to take subjects like science and technology and use te reo Māori as a delis.” friend to go down those pathways,” he says. Digital collaboration “Te reo is a pathway to the future in in many ways. It’s population; and it’s enabling us to understand diversity.” Just as food and how we define it is changing, so too is the way we The coalition government has committed to a goal of integrating te reo communicate.  Māori into early learning centres and schools by 2025, and to one million New From cave drawings to paper over several millennia, and from fax to Zealanders to be able to speak at least basic te reo by 2040. Snapchat in a matter of years, it was once considered rude to take your laptop “For Māori, for Pākehā, and for all of us,” says Kershaw, “te reo is a big part into a meeting, says Glenn Dougal, director of WAVE Creative Communications Agency based in Mount Maunganui.  of our future.”

6  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

Are we nurturing the next

Greta Thunberg? Jody Hopkinson looks at the various sustainability programmes being run in our early childhood centres.


s there a four year old Pania Newton or Greta Thunberg in one of our kindergartens or Kohanga Reo? And if so, are ECEs supporting these young individuals in sustainability? The answer is, in many cases, yes! The Enviroschools programme has proven popular in hundreds of primary and secondary schools and is now being adopted by more and more ECEs. Enviroschools is a nationwide programme supported by Toimata Foundation, founding partner Te Mauri Tau, and a large network of regional partners. Early childhood centres and schools commit to a long-term sustainability journey, in which tamariki/students connect with and explore the environment, then plan, design and take action in their local places in collaboration with their communities. Petra du Fresne is a kindergarten teacher at Parkvale Kindergarten in Hastings, part of the Heretaunga Kindergarten Association. The kindergarten was recently awarded its bronze level for practise in the Enviroschools programme.

“Enviroschools is among other things, a kaupapa Māori, hands-on sustainable programme. And through a process we share what we’re talking about and what we’re practising with the community.

Flow-on effect The kaupapa is intrinsic in the centre’s teaching, and the effects of the programme have been far reaching, says Petra. “We’ve had kids bring their own recycling form home telling us we don’t recycle at home so I brought these things in. It has a flow-on effect of making parents think. Just making gradual changes, and talking about those changes as we go about the day doing them.” The personification of the whenua is powerful, and so is regular practise of the kaupapa, says Petra. “We do waste audits where all of the rubbish comes into the kindergarten and we spread it out on a tarpaulin and we look at everything that is not going to break down has to go into the puku of Papatāūnuku. “When we think of Papatāūnuku in terms of bodies, it helps them to relate to the consequences of their actions. Basing our teaching in this kaupapa means it becomes a part of our daily practise. “There’s lots of Atua Māori and we read stories about Tangaroa, that kind of holistic approach, from the amazement about the environment through to thinking about the type of soap we’re using washing down into the earth.” The educators talk about the environment as the third teacher, says Petra.

“We learn so much from working with nature. Life cycles of bugs and plants… its part of why we are here steering them towards that view. It’s embracing that sense of wonder the kids have and using that heightened mindfulness and groundedness the kaupapa enables to teach lifelong practises. “Recently we took the class to watch the rubbish trucks take rubbish to the landfill. A couple of days later one of the boys talked about it and you think that some things might go over their heads, then you realise – there it is – it did go in.”

Natural fit with curriculum Parkvale Kindergarten’s experience is one that is common in many of the ECE centres engaged in Enviroschools, says National ECE Enviroschools Coordinator Katie Higgins. “The Enviroschools programme is in 375 ECE centres across the country. Predominantly they are kindergartens who are under the umbrella of the 17 Kindergarten Associations. “We’ve found one of the most effective ways to work with the large ECE sector is in partnership models with Kindergarten Associations where they provide and fund the Enviroschools facilitator for their Kindergarten Association.” The Enviroschools kaupapa is a natural fit with the ECE National Curriculum Te Whāriki, says Katie. “Because both are holistic and based on children and whānau being genuinely included. What’s more, teachers in ECE are already experts in supporting inquiry based learning where children

Thursday, 30 January 2020  | 7

and teachers are investigating and co-constructing knowledge and action together. Treading lightly on the world “It goes beyond children learning about worm farms and sorting waste, and more Jared Hiakita is the Para Kore kaiārahi for Te Hiku (the Far North) and has into communities being empowered to learn about their environment and community delivered the programme to a number of ECEs. and being connected to them. “While my job is designed to work with adults within ECEs, we also direct our “The young children and their whānau transitioning from an ECE Enviroschool into programme toward kids, who show an amazing ability to deeply engage with a school setting come with a whole raft of knowledge about thinking and acting the different concepts we teach,” says Jared. sustainably.” “I’ll take a worm farm in and they will buzz on seeing all the “Hei te 2025 e whai ana ngā marae katoa o Aotearoa i te Para Kore. little worms being put into the worm farm. When they’re at By 2025, all marae and Māori organisations in New Zealand are the pre-school/early primary age they can really connect “If we can working towards zero waste.” deeply with nature. With the right dialogue and teaching This is the Te Pae Tata (aspirational goal) of Para Kore. Para raise them to feel environments we can foster ideas that will encourage and Kore is a zero waste organisation with a kaupapa based on motivate them to tread lightly on the earth and also to connected with the whakapapa to Papatāūnuku. Begun more than 10 years ago, grasp ideas that we humans are a part of nature and it works with marae and any not-for-profit Māori organisations world, they are much more not separate from it. such as trusts, kura kaupapa and sports organisations, to “To know their ancestors have stewarded the land likely to tread lightly on it increase the reuse, recycling and composting of materials, before them gives them a sense of belonging to the thereby helping to reduce the extraction of natural resources and be more motivated land and ties them to caring for nature, and telling our and raw materials from Papatāūnuku. stories shows them that they whakapapa back to the and activated to care for Para Kore is working towards embedding zero waste land. You can offer a very meaningful narrative to kids at behaviours, and thus far there are 438 marae, kāhanga reo, our planet.” such a young age.” kura and community groups signed up to the programme. And why is that important? Since it began 455.6 tonnes of waste have been diverted from “The prosperity of humanity depends on the vitality of landfill, plus 259,136 participants have attended presentations, Ranginui and Papatāūnuku. Not enough of us feel connected to wānanga and events, says their marketing manager Urs Signer. our environments, while our modern ways are degrading our natural “This means spreading the word that putting everything in the same black world upon which we depend. rubbish bag is no longer acceptable,” says Urs. “We need to understand that we are a part of our natural environment. For me “While ‘de-normalising’ this throwaway mentality, we aim to normalise the careful that’s the most significant position that out little kids occupy. We can raise them consumption of local products, to promote reuse, recycling and composting as with the idea that they are part of something much greater than themselves. standard practices and to nurture and encourage creative new systems that enable “If we can raise them to feel connected with the world, they are much more sharing of resources. likely to tread lightly on it and be more motivated and activated to care for “Our ultimate goal is to create and nurture systems that produce no waste in the our planet.” first instance, and in the meantime ensure that materials previously considered waste will instead be seen as a resource.”

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On-the-job training and vocational training:

what’s the difference? What’s the best way to transition from school to employment or to change your career path? Should you enrol on a vocational course or can you get the training you need in the workplace? Anna Clements reports.

On-the-job training Almost every job entails some on-the-job training, the degree of which will be determined by how much skill and knowledge the employee has and the type of work involved. Some employees start work with knowledge but need to learn how to apply it. For example, a trained barista may be competent in making coffee but will need to learn how to work with staff and customers. Other employees may have skills and knowledge but need to learn the processes and systems at their new workplaces. Advice from Employment New Zealand on its website is that all employees, no matter what their skill levels, need to keep learning while they work in order to keep pace with changes in technology and practices. “To keep employees working ‘at the top of their game’, employers need to work with them to make sure that they get the training, development and support that is needed.” Employment New Zealand recommends what’s known as the “70-20-10 rule” as a guideline to upskilling: Seventy percent from on-the-job-related experiences – new experiences and challenges in day-to-day tasks builds learning and development through practice. Twenty percent from learning and developing through others from feedback, coaching, observing others, personal networks and other collaborative and co-operative actions. Ten percent from structured development, which can be external or internal, such as training courses, programmes, further education, conferences and symposiums.

Vocational education Vocational education is education and training that has a special emphasis on the skills and knowledge required to perform a specific role or to work in a specific industry.

Each year more than 240,000 people in New Zealand access vocational education for occupations as diverse as aged care work and plumbing through to law enforcement, film making and funeral directing. Most training programmes are part of a pathway towards a qualification recognised in a specific industry. Vocational training can be delivered in the workplace (by employers to employees with support from industry training organisations, or ITOs, or through providers such as institutes of technology and polytechnics, wānanga and private training establishments. The system and provision of vocational education is currently under review as the government seeks to upgrade it to become “sustainable and fit for the future of work, delivering what learners, employers and communities need to be successful”.

Accessing vocational training Employers can access industry training for their employees through one of the 11 government-funded ITOs in New Zealand. ITOs are industry bodies that arrange training for apprentices and trainees in employment. They may support the employer to provide on-the-job training; for example, by working with supervisors to ensure they have the skills to train new staff. ITOs may also develop resources for on-job learning, and in some cases purchase training from training providers. ITOs also have a key role in setting industry skill standards and developing New Zealand certificate and diploma qualifications on behalf of industry. These standards apply to traditional trades and apprenticeships as well as primary industries, manufacturing, construction, retail, government and community services. ITOs arrange workplace training and work with tertiary education providers to develop and deliver the skills that benefit workers,

Thursday, 30 January 2020  | 9

employers and the New Zealand economy. They are also responsible for: y providing information and advice to trainees and their employers y arranging for the delivery of on- and offjob training (including developing training packages for employers) y arranging for the assessment of trainees, and

Employers can access industry training for their employees through one of the 11 government-funded ITOs in New Zealand.

y arranging the monitoring of quality training. Learners can access vocational education at secondary school via the Gateway and STAR schemes.

Gateway The Gateway programme  offers work experience, learning on the job and getting NCEA and industry qualifications. The scheme is offered by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and supports senior secondary students (Years 11 to 13+) undertaking structured workplace learning across a range of industries and businesses around New Zealand, while they continue to study at school.

STAR The Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource is a flexible funding scheme designed to enable: y schools to form partnerships with tertiary education providers and employers to provide vocational education and work experience y student exploration of pathways to work or further education y engagement with learning by highlighting the relevance of learning to future employment or study

y achievement of NCEA and tertiary qualifications on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework. Beyond-school vocational education is available both part-time or full-time and from a huge variety of providers. There are 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics and several hundred private training establishments (PTEs) in New Zealand. Vocational education can include work experience, work-based learning and simulatedwork environments.

Apprenticeships An apprenticeship is a way to learn a trade, and work and earn at the same time. In most cases this involves training on-the-job and block course training. The training is usually designed by the industry, for the industry. Examples of apprenticeships include plumbing, panel beating, hairdressing and building. How good is the training? The quality of vocational education is assured by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Tertiary Education Commission. What about the cost? Vocational education and training is subsidised depending where it is carried out and how many learners are enrolled. Work-based subsidies are lower than provider-based rates, which reflects the differing costs of provider-based and workplacebased learning, and the additional contributions of employers (as firms benefit from having more highly skilled workers). Subsidies for provider-based training is around 70 percent but varies according to subject area and level of education. Learners are expected to meet any remaining costs of study and living costs.

10  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

The battle of the


Not only is a healthy lunch important to keep children concentrating at school, it’s also essential fuel for their growing bodies and minds.

Michael Schmidt shares some tips and tricks to get your children gobbling up their school lunches.


here’s a battle going on that won’t be on the news tonight, yet mums and dad around the world know it all too well. I’m talking, of course, about the battle of the lunchbox. Every parent knows the importance of a nutritious lunch for their child’s health and development. Not only is a healthy lunch important to keep children concentrating at school, it is also essential fuel for children’s growing bodies and minds. Most parents who send their child off to school with a packed lunchbox try to fill it with a balanced meal every day. Unfortunately, while they’re at school and away from our eyes, there’s no way to know if that healthy spinach salad will end up in their tummies or in the bin! And let’s be honest, most kids would grab a small pack of chips over an apple any day. If you would like to turn the tide of this daily lunchbox battle, then read on for some tips and tricks on how to put nutritious goodies in your kid’s lunchbox that they will actually eat!

What should go in the lunchbox? Firstly, let’s take a look at what should be taking up the precious space in the lunchbox. The key ingredients that our bodies need are protein (e.g. chicken, eggs, meat, fish and tofu), good fats (avocado, olives, oily fish) and carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potato). Include something from each of these food groups every day and you’re off to great start! But don’t go throwing it all in willy-nilly. A good way to segment the lunch space is:

The main lunch item + a nutritious snack + fruit + water. Now you know what food should be included and how their lunchbox should be made up. But the real question is, how do we get this from the pantry into their tummies? Follow these three tried and tested measures and your child will be sure to gobble up their next school lunch.

Let them choose Just as adults do, children love to have a say in things, especially when it comes to food! By giving children a say and letting them choose what exactly will be going into their lunchboxes, they are more likely to eat it. Of course, some limitations should be imposed as, given full authority, children would most likely cram their lunchboxes with biscuits and lollies. You can avoid this by letting them choose from within a set list of food. “Would you prefer grapes, apple slices or a banana tomorrow for your fruit?” “How about mains? Do you want delicious chicken or an amazing avocado salad?“ By doing this, you’re essentially letting your child choose which healthy, nutritious lunch items they will be eating every day. And hey, who wouldn’t want to eat something they picked themselves!

Change it up Variety is the spice of life. Although a healthy sandwich might be a quick and easy fix for your child’s main meal, even the best sammie will become boring (and remain uneaten) if it’s what they get every day. I’m sure you would not

want to eat the same lunch every day, so why would your child? Which brings us to the second tip: if you change it up, they will eat it up. When it comes to variety, even little things can go a long way! Your meal plan includes two pasta dishes this week? Why not make one spiral noodles and one macaroni? Already had chicken avocado salad? Why not lamb avocado salad? Changing it up daily will keep their packed lunches interesting, and a child is more likely to eat ‘Interesting’ over ‘boring’ any day.

Make it fun Variety isn’t the only way to keep their lunches interesting, however. The last and perhaps best trick is the most obvious yet requires the most thought. Make it fun! Want to turn a boring apple into a fruity friend? Buy some ‘sticky-lickits’ online and cover it with edible eyes, ears and mouths! Kids not touching their pasta? Perhaps animal or alphabet shapes would bring a smile to their faces. Lunchbox bland and uninviting? Why not cover it with comics and stickers. Feel free to get artistic yourself and draw them some funny pictures for their lunchboxes. There are lots of ways you can turn a healthy yet boring lunch into one that will make your child smile and eat it up – the trick is to get creative. And there you have it, a few tips and tricks that will turn that nutritious packed lunch into fuel for your child, not a mouldy mess at the bottom of a bin. By letting them choose, changing it up and making it fun, you will be sure to win the battle of the lunchbox this year!

Welcome to your career in forestry Nau mai ki tō mahi ki te ahu ngahere







12  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

Online or onsite education: how do you choose? Online learning has the reputation of being more convenient and cost-effective than onsite training, but is it as effective? Anna Clements and Rebekah Fraser investigate the pros and cons.


here are so many reasons for choosing e-learning. You can study when and where you choose, thereby slotting it in around commitments of work and home. There is no cost attached to opening a laptop, unlike travelling to a school or campus, and no time wasted in negotiating traffic or hiking across a quad. On the surface it may look like the ideal choice, but students are urged to consider the pros and cons beyond obvious factors of convenience, as what works will vary from person to person. Most tertiary education providers now offer a choice in delivery – either on campus, online, or a bit of both, known as ‘blended’ learning. But choosing which option to take can be daunting.

Online learning

Tertiary Massey@Distance general manager Jacqueline Eade says students need to do their research first. “There are pros and cons to both sides and it really depends on your individual circumstances as to whether you should study on campus or off.” The flexibility with online learning could be a positive or a negative, she says. “On campus you need to comply with the lecture timetable, which can make it hard to work a business hours job.” Online lectures can be watched after-hours, with no need to travel to campus. “But there’s the flip-side. The timetable of lectures is great support for routines. For distance students it can be hard to set a routine and it is easy to fall behind and then rush to catch up, or not catch up at all.” Massey@Distance president David McNab agrees that flexibility is a major benefit of studying at home. “You can go into the workforce and complete education at the same time. Say you want to be an accountant. With distance learning you can work in an accounting firm and be exposed to the concepts, while also getting that theoretical base through your study.” Gaining a qualification while also getting years of practical experience allows for “deeper and richer knowledge,” he says. Travelling to and from campus is not always feasible, especially for rural or isolated students, or parents. “So many things can pull you away from study during your younger years. Distance learning opens that world back up to you.” Distance students often struggle with the isolation of working from home alone. “You can’t just shoulder tap a lecturer and ask what a word means. Sometimes a simple answer can take two hours to receive.”


Onsite learning

For some learners, online study begins in school. Students who are part of NetNZ, a large community of secondary and area schools working together via the internet, meet via video conference in classes of up to 18 across as many as 10 schools. Teachers and students alike attest to the benefits of this set up. Anne Williams is e-Dean at Ashburton College, one of the NetNZ schools, and says online learners rapidly take responsibility for their study. “They feel motivated about it, they’ve learned to use a range of digital tools and they feel like they are in charge of their own learning. I see it as a really big advantage to them and tell them, ‘If you can do this, you’ll be fine when you leave school’. Willilams says that NetNZ’s online students have a lot of flexibility around the way that they learn. Before their online lesson they have a study line of four hours a week and in that time, she says, they can come to the library and use the onsite computers, or they can use their own. “They become very independent about their learning because they can actually access their course 24 hours a day if they want, seven days a week,” she says. “They’ll continue to use those tools in all their other subjects because suddenly they are really motivated about how much difference it makes to the way they learn.” Students find ways to communicate with others in the classes, says Williams; for example, a Google community or Student Lounge (a NetNZ tool). “Online learning allows a lot of flexibility because you can be at home sick but still do your weekly lesson so you can be wherever you like so long as you have a laptop and a net connection.” Student Vlad agrees. “There’s not constantly a teacher there telling you, do this, do that; you just go at your own pace and I feel that’s better. “All our course content is posted online and at any point we can just go online and click to see any lesson, even from a month ago. To manage the time, I follow a timetable and if ever I have a question, I email the teacher or talk online with other students. Teacher Nicky Lewis, who teaches art history online through NetNZ, says accessibility is important. “[Students] need to feel that you will talk to them and help them.” “There are lots of ways to do this; we use Google hangouts, Skype, email – even old-fashioned phone calls.” Lewis says students enjoy the level of independence they get from being in control of when and where they work, and also learn from each other by sharing work online. “It’s not just me teaching them; they can see how different students approach different things.

Online or onsite, networking is always crucial

In New Zealand, most school leavers enrolling at a polytechnic or university choose to study onsite largely for the social aspect so they can be in the company of like-minded young people and make new friends. Research on the pros and cons of onsite learning is scarce, but one Australian study reveals that while outcomes were broadly similar between face-to-face and screen-to-screen learners, most students strongly preferred to complete written work online and to engage in group discussion in person, reporting that they felt more engaged and received more immediate feedback than in online discussion. Jacqueline Eade says students who study on campus have the benefit of being face to face with lecturers. “They can ask questions in real time; they can clearly see whiteboards and screens. They’re with their peers and can network immediately.” Students studying onsite also have physical access to a library, while some distance students might struggle, depending on their provider. “Massey does have an outstanding distance library with an excellent search engine,” says Eade. “Books can be couriers out on loan and returned for free, and it provides free access to otherwise expensive articles.”

Eade recommends that all students, but particularly those studying extramurally, network with other students. “You do need that emotional connection if you are isolated. You don’t seem to succeed in the long term without it. Lots of us are digitally connected, but not emotionally connected.” Course overload can also become an issue for students studying off campus. “Take one or two courses at a time. Read through all the material, set yourself up and plan for study.” David McNab suggests that students keen to study off campus “create a village” around them. “Find other students, collaborate, seek support.” He says having a strong network means greater and more immediate accountability. “Other students can push you harder. If you find out they’re busy working on an assignment, it can drive you too.” He says all students, regardless of where they study, should connect with their education provider’s student association. “Build the bonds. Peer support and pastoral care can be the difference between pass and fail. I see it time and time again.”


Thursday, 30 January 2020  | 13

An Emotionally Intelligent Future


t is widely documented and accepted that we are living in times of unprecedented change. Exponential changes in technology are radically impacting society at both a global and local level. The future of our society and planet is in the hands of our children. Are the skills and knowledge that have been taught in our schools over the last 50 years, the right skills that our students need to create a better future? Nobody can really predict the specific changes we will witness over the next 50 years. The only certainty is change itself. Increases in technology and medical advances mean that life expectancy is likely to increase. But in past times, by middle age our path was set and stable. This is not necessarily the case in times of change. The comfortable stability of middle age that current and past generations have enjoyed is gone. To stay relevant in the future – both economically and socially - you will need the ability to constantly learn and reinvent yourself. To survive and flourish in such a world, you will need a lot of mental flexibility and great reserves of emotional balance. Yet teaching kids to embrace the unknown and to keep their mental balance is far more difficult than teaching them a mathematics equation or the causes of the New Zealand Wars. This means we need to rethink education to grow the new generation that will make our world a better place. For almost 30 years now, scientists have known that intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence. Strong emotional feelings have a direct

impact on how well your working memory can operate. Yet there is still such little time dedicated to emotional literacy in schools. At Age School we are putting just as much importance on developing emotional intelligence as we are on developing traditional academic intelligence. Emotional Intelligence incorporates a wide range of capabilities including: y Knowing emotions (self awareness); y Managing emotions; y Motivating oneself; y Recognising emotions in others; y Handling relationships. Specific examples of what children will learn include the ability to motivate oneself and persist in the face of frustrations; or how to regulate their mood so that they can keep distress from swamping their ability to think. The goal of this is reaching a balance of emotions. Many schools will talk about self regulation but we think it is critical that students learn specific skills so they are able to do this. How to actually de-escalate anger, soothe anxiety and manage melancholy. One of the challenges to growing future leaders is helping them find their sense of identity and belonging - especially in a world where the modus operandi is still to compete, to compare, to judge; where not everybody understands that differences are advantages. But differences are advantages. Our expressed differences

are borne of many things, including our natural talents and passions, and our level of emotional agility. We strongly believe that curious, creative, compassionate learners will grow into curious, creative, compassionate leaders. Last year we partnered with Tui Fleming, who is a Strengths Coach and Leadership Strategist, to work with our Junior High Students. Through a programme of workshops and strengths coaching, students were exploring their unique strengths. They have been taught practical tools to overcome challenges common to this age group - anxiety, fear of failure or judgment, a sense of belonging and understanding of their unique talents and potential. At the end of the year, these Junior High students worked with Tui to coconstruct a programme that will spread this work over all of our students. Helping each and every student become more in tune with their own emotions, strengths and passions so that we can become a far more emotionally intelligent community. It is more important than ever to know ourselves. As technology advances, people need to know their own operating system better than all the online marketing algorithms that are trying to hack your brain and understand you better than you understand yourself. As for what skills are needed into the future, I leave you with the wise words of Daniel Goleman: “While the everyday substance of emotional literacy classes may look mundane, the outcome decent human beings - is more critical to our future than ever.”

14  |  Thursday, 30 January 2020

Helping your kids beat the

back-to-school blues Rachel Helyer Donaldson explains how parents can help their children handle the start of the school year.


ast year Wellington parent Jo expected some reluctance and a few nerves from her two children as they returned to school, but she was completely unprepared for the “frenzy of anxiety” that hit both in different ways. The night before school started, her eight-yearold son was in bed “wracked with sobs”. He was anxious and upset but couldn’t explain why. The next morning he was fine, meeting his Year 4 teachers and going off with friends. Meanwhile the general first-morning chaos, dozens of parents and kids unpacking exercise books and pencils hit her five-year-old daughter hard, says Jo. She’d gone from a small, nurturing, new entrants’ class to an open plan hub with 42 kids. “From daycare to starting school, she hardly ever cried at drop-off. Now she was in tears and didn’t want me to leave. I found it really upsetting.” Generally, for parents, the start of the school year comes as a relief. After six weeks, there’s finally some respite to the 24/7 childcare that school holidays require. It means an end to constant complaints, from being bored at home (from the kids) or having too much screen time and not enough sun block (from you). But the start of Term 1 also signals a return to routine for everyone, from school drop offs and pick-ups, making lunches and policing homework. There’s also a lot to get ready – from ordering school supplies to digging out school bags and labelling water bottles. In 2020, your back-toschool shopping list might also include a laptop or tablet, and some waste-free beeswax food wraps. Plus, as one school supplies marketing campaign helpfully reminds parents, you should look out for “uniforms that shrink” and “lunch boxes that stink”. In the US, ‘back to school’ is the secondbiggest consumer spend after the summer holidays. Kiwi parents have it particularly tough financially because – on top of, perhaps, a family holiday and general haemorrhaging of money over the long break – it follows an inevitably expensive Christmas.

But there’s often an emotional cost, too. As the big day draws closer, your children may be feeling excited, or nervous, or both. How can parents help their kids put their back-to-school worries to rest?

Fear of the unknown Returning to school after weeks of summer break is a big deal, says clinical psychologist Holly Coombes. “The main underlying cause for concern for most children is the unknown: how will my new teacher perceive me? Do they yell when they’re annoyed? Will Sam still want to hang out at lunchtime? A common sign of anxiety is increased difficulty getting to sleep. “With a new classroom, new teacher, and a new mix of children in their classes, there’s a lot to keep little minds busy with worrying,” says Coombes, who has three young children. Stomach aches, nausea, and needing to go to the bathroom are other possible flags. A worried child might avoid talking about going back to school. Conversely, the subject might lead to emotional outbursts such as crying or anger, like Jo’s son. These are also signs that your little one is feeling some scary feelings and might need some gentle support.

Practical strategies There are plenty of practical strategies that parents can use to support their children through their anxiety about returning to school. Coombes suggests visiting school before the term starts. “Playing at the school grounds helps refamiliarise children with the environment and links the experience of positive emotions, including pleasure and safety, with the physical school environment. “Looking in the windows of their new classroom, checking out where they will hang their bags, noting where the closest toilets are, can all help too. “These provide concrete information that can help reduce worries and any accompanying anxiety symptoms.”

Accept and normalise worries by using empathy. Labelling emotions, too, can reduce their power. “A parent might say: ‘I can hear you’re feeling really apprehensive about what it will be like when school goes back. I can understand that! Remember when I started my new job last year? I was really worried too!’” Many children feel worried about returning to school due to social anxiety, says The Parenting Place’s Christian Gallen. “After all, school is a complex social environment with unwritten rules and hierarchies that can be difficult to navigate.” One of the biggest protective factors against this is for your child to have at least one good friend. Even the shyest, most anxious kid, he says, can make friends when they start back at school by learning a few tips. These include being friendly – “smiling at people, introducing yourself and being positive” – which kids can practise everywhere. Many children worry that they won’t have anything to talk about. Help your kids prepare some fun questions they can ask their friends.

Common ground Lastly, it’s good to find common ground. “All we need to make a new friend is something to connect over. Encourage your kid to get involved with as much as they can when they start back at school to give them tons of opportunities to find common ground with other students.” Practicing basic anxiety management strategies can help calm the body and mind, says Coombes. She recommends two books, Hey Warrior and Aroha’s Way, for child-friendly, effective strategies. Smiling Mind and Headspace are useful apps for introducing the concept of mindfulness to kids. This can be learnt and practised to help reduce getting caught up in worrisome thoughts. It’s also useful to reframe children’s experience, says Coombes. Help them move into an ‘opportunity mindset’ with a focus on all the good things that could happen. In contrast, a ‘threat mindset’ dwells on all the things that could go wrong.

Thursday, 30 January 2020  | 15

“After all, anxiety is a sign you are about to do something brave, something that is important to you. By being curious, and gently wondering what else might happen when they start back at school, we help them build a more balanced view that can help them move from anxiety to excitement.” At pick-up that first day, Jo’s daughter came out of class, she says, happy and laughing, as if nothing had happened. “She’d reconnected with friends, made a new one, and was really excited about her new teachers and new class.” But if your child really seems to be struggling to manage their anxiety, don’t be shy about flagging it with their teacher, says Coombes. “Teachers are very familiar with this common experience and can often make small changes to put a child’s mind at ease, such as coming out to greet your child warmly on the first day back, or simply letting the child know they are available for extra support during the day if needed.”

Further help Seek support from professionals if the anxiety is having a significant impact on your child’s usual daily functioning. This might include missing lots of school, being unable to focus on schoolwork or withdrawing from friendships or activities. Talk to your family GP. They may refer you on to other agencies or recommend community-based services. You could also call Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services directly through your local hospital and discuss your concerns with them. The Parenting Place offers family coaching, to provide parents with one-on-one support and giving them take-home strategies to bring about positive change. What’s Up is a national helpline, providing phone and online counselling for teens and primary “Playing at the school children. The charity says school grounds it receives 300 to 400 more calls per week in school holidays, helps re-familiarise particularly in the lead-up to the children with the return to school.


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