Tag Archives: school

2468. Chants and hakas

Story 2468 is significant enough a number to deviate into reality. When we were kids, “Two four six eight” was the grace before meals when mum and dad weren’t there:

Two four six eight, bog in, don’t wait.

Two four six eight was also the prefix to a chant at sports gatherings:

Two four six eight, who do we appreciate?

The winner’s name would then be chanted.

Another chant in that ilk was to spell the sports person’s name:

Give us an S
Give us an M
Give us an I
Give us a T
Give us an H
What have you got?
SMITH! SMITH! SMITH!

Of course that chant doesn’t work if the name is Barakat-Bentinckstokes.

My favourite chant (apart from Let’s go Brandon) requires a bit of explaining:

The High School I went to (and also taught at for a decade) was situated in the countryside. It was a large all-boys boarding school catering mainly at the time to sons of isolated farming families throughout the country. Hence the school itself was attached to a farm. The biggest (and oldest) annual athletics occasion was called the McEvedy Shield. Four major all-boys schools met to compete in some large stadium. The entire roll of each school would attend. Chants and hakas abounded. A haka is a traditional Maori challenge and each school in New Zealand has its own. The video shows two opposing high school teams challenging each other before a rugby match. (Incidentally, a “College” in New Zealand is the same as a High School).


At the McEvedy Shield around 2 o’clock the three opposing schools would unite and begin chanting at my school:

Go home! Milking time! Go home! Milking time!

I always found the Milking Time Chant very entertaining, and if anything it highlighted the positive camaraderie between the four competitive schools.

Perhaps you have a favourite chant?

2383. Apprenticeships

I never liked secondary school much – except for the sports. I had to sit through all these classes without understanding a word; General Science, Mathematics, History, English Literature. I even had to learn Spanish for half a semester until they realized that Spanish was my first language and who needs to learn how to say everything the wrong way from a teacher who doesn’t know a cañon from a cannon.

Let’s face it; I only took Chemistry because Lucy-Sue was in the class. Lucy-Sue was no good at Chemistry either, so I figured I could make her feel better about it by commiserating with her. It didn’t work back then, and she told me to “shove it” and took off with Malcolm MacAnally who had “anal” in his name for a reason.

Anyway, as soon as I was allowed to I left school and got a job working for a builder. I liked that and he gave me an apprenticeship provided I went to night school and took Mathematics. Well, that Mathematics was different from the stuff they taught you at school. This Mathematics was about how much gasoline you needed to buy if you were going to run a generator that used so much blah blah blah when you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere. All that was interesting, and a lot more useful to me than x2=a2+b2 – which I never figured out what it meant.

These days I own the building company. I was invited by the local school to come and speak to the kids during their “Vocations Week”. I was to talk about being a builder. I did that, but they didn’t like the bit where I said that if you want to be a builder don’t waste your time trying to get an education higher than you need. They banned me from coming to speak again because of that. It was against “standards”.

Now they’re asking for donations for a new gymnasium. I thought about buying one for them (my kids go to that school) but my wife said they can “shove it”, so I’m doing that. Lucy-Sue is usually right. In the meantime, I seem to be employing every kid who has got kicked out of the school for “misbehaviour” of one sort or another.  I find they’re the best workers and it doesn’t hurt to give them a chance.

Story 838: Dear Miss Munyard

This is the fifth day of seven days in which an earlier story is repeated. Today it is Story 838: “Dear Miss Munyard”. It was first posted on 26 January 2016.

Miss Munyard, although she was called May by her colleagues, was in charge of the little children new to the school. She got the children to form a circle holding hands. They danced around singing:

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They all ran after the farmer’s wife
Who cut off their tails with the carving knife,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life as
Three blind mice?

Dear Miss Munyard,
I was amazed when Nola came home singing Three Blind Mice. The method of numeracy you apparently espouse has no bearing whatsoever on the modern mathematics that should be taught. Three mice is definitive. It’s the working out of the problem that’s important; not the answer. There could have been ten mice. It wouldn’t have mattered.
Zita Codfish

Dear Miss Munyard,
Andrew came home having had bad and dated attitudes towards blindness shoved down his throat. It’s not the way he has been brought up. Making fun of blindness while dancing around in circles is hardly the value we’re trying to instil in our young people.
Maureen and Petros Stifleburg

Dear Miss Munyard,
It’s pedagogical methods such as yours that enhance attitudes toward the world’s creatures that ultimately cause extinction. There’s nothing wrong with mice. People have them as pets. Other people trap them cruelly, or even cut off, as the rhyme Nigel came home singing said, their tails. These attitudes foster violence and lack of caring for our planet. His father gave him a good beating to try and instil better values into him than the ones you promote.
Lorna Bridgewater

Dear Ms Munyard,
That’s right, have the unnamed woman in the ditty Carolynne came home singing, have her stand at the sink and get her identity from her husband. She’s just a “farmer’s wife”. No wonder we haven’t moved on from the emancipation of the 19th century. Try and drag yourself into the 21st century. Or better still; throw yourself under a race horse and liberate a few people.
Melinda Beveridge

Dear May,
Jonathan came home from school on a high. He loves the songs you teach. He especially loved the one about the three blind mice. You certainly know how to relate to children. Jonathan worships you! I wondered if you were free again next Saturday evening?
Harry Wattleworth

2347. Teacher-Pupil

Teacher: And so Class, use the word “rappel” in a sentence. Johnny, you go first.

Johnny: The teacher wanted us to use the word “rappel” in a sentence.

Teacher: Yes, go ahead.

Johnny: I just have.

Teacher: No you didn’t.

Johnny: Yes I did. The teacher wanted us to use the word RAPPEL in a sentence.

Teacher: That’s not what I asked.

Johnny: But it’s what you said.

Teacher: I’ve had enough of this nonsense. For homework tonight say how you feel about Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

The next morning Johnny handed the teacher a bunch of flowers.

Teacher: That’s not what I asked.

Johnny: But it’s what you said.

Johnny failed the subject. That was way back. These days Johnny lives a creative, flourishing life. The teacher’s dead. The rest of the class are sitting out life, waiting for it to start happening.

2300. Pantomime Season

As has become the norm on this blog, a round number (in this case Story 2300) calls not for a story as such but a conversation about something taken from real life.

Since we are nearing the feast of Christmas I thought I’d tell what I used to do once upon a time when I had a bit more energy than I have today.

The last ten years or so of my teaching were at a mixed sexes high school. The thirty or so years teaching before that were in all boys’ high schools. I think New Zealand has a higher percentage of single sex schools than some other parts of the globe. The New Zealand School year goes from early February until early December. The Summer Break is December-January. It follows then that Christmas and New Year fall in the longest school break.

It used to be that secondary schools finished a week or so earlier than the primary schools. Every year I would write a Christmas Pantomime about an hour long. I would then ask for volunteers from the students and between 12 and 20 would be about the right number. We had wonderful painted sets (we used most of the same every year!) and the students had only a few days to learn the script and rehearse the pantomime.

In the meantime I had written to every primary school in the Province and given times of performances. It would be 50 cents entry per child – and “You know the ones who can’t afford it so just let them in!” There would be three performances per day – one at 10 am, one at midday, and one at 2 pm. They would have to book by phone. On top of that, they were welcome to use the expansive school grounds for picnics or sports or whatever.

Whole schools would come, often paid for by a school’s Board of Governors as “an end of year treat”. The auditorium held around 700 and it was full for each of the 15 performances.

Local businesses donated prizes for a colouring-in event which had the theme of the pantomime that year.

Buses would arrive in droves. For the week there were kids all over the place! And they were allowed to make as much noise during a performance as they wished – shouting at the Dame, and calling out at the Wicked Witch, and applauding the Prince and Princess. Each performance was always a great success.

We did this for ten years. Secondary School education lasted 5 years; that meant that an actor at the end of his time at school had done 75 pantomime performances. They were masters at controlling a crowd! Throughout the school year, for theatre performances, it was a breeze. They already had a huge experience. That is why, I think, that at inter-secondary school Drama Festivals our performances always stood out, and we were even selected to represent New Zealand at International Festivals.

The waiting list to come to that school was enormous – almost every primary school boy in the Province wanted to come to the secondary school that did the pantomimes!

Oh! And I forgot the most important thing. At the end of the week the student actors would divide the spoils. It was always a healthy sum. It was after all their “holiday job”.

Unfortunately I have only one photo of the ten years! It is the Big Bad Wolf in the pantomime called “The Horse’s Wedding”.

2297. Choices

My boss had given his orders. I knew what he was asking was illegal if not downright immoral. All I could do was choose between getting sacked or getting caught.

I can’t tell you what it was, but I chose to keep my job. All I can say is that I work in a school, and when the bus carrying protesting parents went over a cliff I knew my employment was safe. At least for the time being.

2262.  The world I woke to

Some of the parents with more liberated ideas were furious with their children’s school policy.  Halloween and Thanksgiving were fast approaching and the school had organized a Pumpkin Festival. In reality it was a pumpkin competition; whoever grew the biggest pumpkin would win a pair of rather expensive snow boots.

“That’s right,” swore parent Kim Buckwell, “fill the children with an ugly competitive spirit.”

There were two pairs of snow boots awaiting the competition; both suitable for either a girl or a boy. In the interest of equity the school decided one pair should go to the girl who grew the biggest pumpkin and one to the boy who grew the biggest pumpkin.

Now Joseph had seen Nigel’s pumpkin. It was huge. There was no beating it. Joseph’s pumpkin was big but not as big as Nigel’s. Joseph’s parents concurred with his decision; he would call himself Josephine, tie the hair into a ponytail, and change a pronoun or two. Having done that he entered his hefty pumpkin into the girls’ section of the competition.

The girls were horrified. Maizie declared that her pumpkin was big but nowhere near as big as Josephine’s. “I would win the snow boots if that horrid boy hadn’t turned into a girl,” said Maizie.

The judges agreed with Maizie. Nigel won the boys’ section and Maizie won the girls’ section. Josephine was disqualified. It was grossly unfair.

“It was like a kick in the balls,” said Josephine.

2258. Story Homework

Nina was stuck. Her teacher had set homework and it was to write a one-page story about anything. Nina couldn’t think of anything. It would have been a lot easier if the teacher had been more specific. If the teacher had said “Write a story about elephants” at least there would be a starting point.

Or the teacher could have said “Write a story about your favourite aunt” or “Write a story about a family picnic”. But no! The teacher had said to write about anything. Nina’s mind went blank. Did she have writer’s block?

The school day dawned. Nina hadn’t written a word. She was getting desperate. The school bus would leave in about half an hour. Nina sat at the kitchen table and began to write:

Once upon a time my favourite aunt, Matilda, gathered her family around and announced they were all going on a picnic. Such excitement! Off they went to the park. While they were there sitting on rugs and enjoying their lettuce and cucumber sandwiches three elephants escaped from a nearby circus…

On and on Nina’s story went. Such tragedy! Such passion! Such spectacle! Nina finished just in time to catch the bus.

“Dear me,” said the teacher. “I asked for a one-page story and you have written seven. You must learn to have fewer ideas.”

2253. Academia

Welcome to you’re final math exam of the acedemic yeah following a second yeah of lookdown’s and home educashun. Its wonderfooll to think that despite the trial’s and tribulation’s of these time’s the student’s of this world can hold their head’s high. Congratolashun’s on reaching doctoral standard’s in our education system. If you are having trouble reeding this get your grandmother to read it for you out llowd if you’re mother cant read.

There is only one question for yous to answer. Here it is!!!!!

Do you prefer Charlote Bromte or Jane Austains novels? Typ your answer below and state why you think these two “persons” never mentioned much about slave owners given the times in which they were riting. And did the characters identify their sexual preferences? Pleaze note that you only need to anser this question if you have read the books – otherwise leave the space below blank. When you are dune don’t forget to press SEND!!!!!!!!!

2218. The chemist

Have you heard of the communist tyrant responsible for millions of deaths?  He was a chemist and at some stage, after lurking anonymously in the background of power, was able to poison three quarters of the population. No one knew who he was but it was believed that the person was still alive and perhaps living in luxury.

Which brings me to a simpler scene: an ordinary chemistry class at school. Young Harry has asked his chemistry teacher a simple question. Ms Braxton was a tyrannical chemistry teacher. She was to be feared. Not one of her pupils learnt Chemistry out of love; they learnt it out of fear. Ms Braxton had been teaching Chemistry for so long that several generations had passed through the school despising Chemistry. Rumour had it that she knew who the tyrannical communist chemist was; perhaps even she had taught the murderous persecutor.

Young Harry’s question was simply this: Why does bread go brown when it is toasted? Ms Braxton had explained that the starch under heat reflected light to the right (“dextra” was the Latin word for “right” so the brown bit was called dextrin). That made the toast look brown. It’s why the crust on a loaf of bread is brown.

Ms Braxton certainly knew her stuff. She was very learned. She lived alone in a very big house and drove a very expensive car. The question young Harry (and most of the impressionable teenagers in the class) really wanted to ask was “How come you’re so rich?” In fact, he did ask her. She got very angry and told him to mind his own business. Her reaction was certainly proof of something don’t you think?