The Dim-Post

January 24, 2014

Enemy action

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 10:06 am

National announced an education policy yesterday. The Greens are announcing one on Sunday. Labour are announcing one on Monday.

This doesn’t seem like coincidence to me. It seems like the strategists, pollsters and market-researchers are all telling the main parties the same thing: that middle-class voters are concerned about education and will respond to policies targeting that issue.

My pop-psychology explanation for this is that parents are in the process of returning to work, sending the kids back to school, resuming life-as-usual and working long hours, not seeing that much of their kids, feeling guilty about this and transmuting that into anxiety about school and teachers and ‘doing the best for their children’, and that political parties are picking up on that anxiety and preying on them like predators raiding herds of grazing animals at a water-hole.

And it’s stupid! Because we have a very good education system by world standards. It’s probably the best value for money in the world! Most of the children who are under-performing in that system are from poor backgrounds and studies routinely show that their learning problems can be traced to poor nutrition, living in damp houses and related problems that can’t be solved through tweaking the education system. But there’s no political capital in telling anxious, guilty middle-class parents that their kids are basically fine so instead we get this poll-driven obsession with ‘fixing’ a system that’s not broken.

Will National’s policy capture votes? My gut tells me no. Maybe because of tribalism, maybe because the press gallery think Key has just made a brilliant tactical move and I assume they’re wrong about everything, but mostly I can’t imagine parents getting exciting about the headmaster at their school getting paid an extra $50,000 to spend 40% of his time off helping run other schools. I just can’t see that swinging any votes.

56 Comments »

  1. We don’t.. know. how lucky… we are…..Mate! /sarc

    Guess what teachers? It’s a TRAP!
    Rewarding the ‘rockstar’ teachers with more money, what a fucking have.
    Anyway I’m with Mark Twain on this one, never let your schooling interfere with your education

    Comment by trev — January 24, 2014 @ 10:29 am

  2. @Danyl: Don’t you think the fall in international rankings is a sign that the education system isn’t actually doing just fine? I seem to remember not too long ago you attributed this to National’s fiddling, which may well be the case but even then it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that needs doing.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 24, 2014 @ 10:52 am

  3. maybe because the press gallery think Key has just made a brilliant tactical move and I assume they’re wrong about everything

    I snorted into my latte over that line. I think it was pretty limp, all hyped up by said gallery, sort of complicated and not particularly measurable. No one in the gallery has asked Key to ‘show me the money’, as its a big spend up $300 million or some such numbers tossed around like a summer salad. In contrast to opposition parties having to “provide costings’. I think key just gave the teachers a little pay rise to keep them quiet this year.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — January 24, 2014 @ 11:01 am

  4. When it comes to the Press gallery, I imagine Bronagh doesn’t let Tracy Watkins be in a room alone with the PM.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 24, 2014 @ 11:15 am

  5. In contrast to opposition parties having to “provide costings’.

    I’ll be interested to see how that compares to gallery coverage of the Greens and Labour policies, and whether they all decide ‘the money doesn’t add up.’

    Comment by danylmc — January 24, 2014 @ 11:22 am

  6. In practice the middle class parents shoudl be concerned, this proposal will further increase non teaching time fro effective teachers. In some cases courtesy of national standards testing, administration activity and other non teaching activities, effective teachers are already out of the class in excess of 1 day per week. This proposal takes the effective teachers out of their class more often so the kids with effective teachers will get even less time with their “good” teacher than they do at present.

    Comment by Ian — January 24, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  7. The part of the policy about teachers (not just principals) looks interesting and open to debate. Why make no mention?

    Comment by anon — January 24, 2014 @ 11:42 am

  8. “…this proposal will further increase non teaching time fro effective teachers…”

    I have be wondering about the mechanics of all this. An “expert” teacher can’t just walk into a new classroom and begin teaching. They have to work out where the previous teacher was at, what styles the students are used to, etc etc etc. That would take weeks. By the time the ‘expert” had unpicked whatever it is they deem needing of unpicking, and impose their own methods, they’ll be gone again.

    In a similar vein, I expect “executive principals” will be drawn from “successful” schools. I am not sure what, say, Tangaroa College would make of being told how to suck eggs by some honky toff in tailored suit from Auckland Grammar School. Resentment maybe? And just maybe these “executive” principals will just make the novel discovery that running decile 10 Auckland Grammar School is a cake walk compared to running a decile 1 high school, and the local principal was actually doing a magnificent job?

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 24, 2014 @ 11:50 am

  9. It’s not *just* sneaky voter-bait. While it has some merit in itself, it also distracts a little from real and growing inequality and sneaks performance pay into teaching pay-scales. The ‘working group’ who decide how teachers will become eligible will be interesting. Wait for a strong push for ‘improvements in classroom achievement’ ‘KPIs’ to be linked to higher average scores in National Standard tests. PPTA and NZEI will have trouble swallowing that fricassee d dead rat, even with lashings of collaborative sauce.

    Comment by Rob Stowell (@rob_stowell) — January 24, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

  10. Sanctuary’s comments (unusually) echo my own experience in highschool. After the previous (much loved) principal left our low-decile school, a ‘high-powered’ principal arrived from a decile 10 elsewhere in the country and immediately set about imposing themselves on the school. It was obvious to students that the staff enjoyed this about as much as we did. A year or so after I finished up, the school was appointed a limited statutory manager by the Minister of Education, and the principal moved on shortly afterward.

    I certainly hope that the criteria for selecting these principals is going to be more rigorous than ‘did well at a wealthy school’.

    Comment by Simonpnz — January 24, 2014 @ 12:38 pm

  11. It’s not about winning voters over on this issue. It’s about neutralising a key strength of Labour’s. The very moment they put Labour on the defensive, National wins.

    It’s also about opening the door to performance-pay in the softest and least politically costly way possible, something they’re willing to spend 3% of a large education budget to achieve.

    (I leave the Greens out of this because it’s not an area they lead perceptions on, and unless they were going to make it a core issue – to the detriment of attention on other things – it’s unlikely to go that way in the short term).

    Comment by George D — January 24, 2014 @ 12:44 pm

  12. It’s also about opening the door to performance-pay in the softest and least politically costly way possible, something they’re willing to spend 3% of a large education budget to achieve.

    Yep – pretty much all Nat education policy is some variant on “how can we undermine unionisation of the teacher workforce?” This one’s true to form.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — January 24, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

  13. Hmm, while so much of this is dependent on implementation (e.g. selection and allocation processes, defining quality etc.) I don’t really think it’s accurate to characterise this as performance pay except in the broadest possible sense – and in that case so is (to stay on the education theme) having Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Associate Professor roles. Performance pay is about providing incentives to meet quotas etc. – and is exceptionally problematic – whereas these are actually new positions that provide an increased salary in return for additional duties and expectations. Rather than the usual market-inspired approach you’d expect from National (and Treasury) where teachers would compete to achieve a bonus, this approach is much more of a collective PD model that rewards teachers for working with each other. In other words: “it looks like you’re a good teacher [according to our yet-to-be-developed criteria]; how would you like some more money to mentor other teachers?”.

    Comment by NBH — January 24, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

  14. The Minister has apparently just told media that National Standards outcomes will be the basis for selecting the lead/expert teachers. Hmm.

    Comment by Steph Mills — January 24, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

  15. @ anon: “The part of the policy about teachers (not just principals) looks interesting and open to debate. Why make no mention?”

    The problem with this policy – aside from its Trojan horse aspects – is that it’s predicated on the idea of the sufficient condition. In other words, all it takes to transform a struggling school is a charismatic principal. And test grades can be raised just by means of the injection into the classroom of the “star” teacher.

    But unfortunately, there are no sufficient conditions. A great many factors – most of them not school-related – combine to produce the tail of underachievement. And a great many factors – again, most of them not school-related – are needed to bring about change. A teacher or principal who is successful in school A manages it because that combination of factors enables their success. Their own expertise will be a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for success, so that their chances of replicating that success in school B are largely down to chance. Teetering piles of research show this to be the case; but never let it be said that politicians would take a blind bit of notice of the evidence……..

    Comment by D'Esterre — January 24, 2014 @ 2:52 pm

  16. The Minister has apparently just told media that National Standards outcomes will be the basis for selecting the lead/expert teachers. Hmm.

    National Standards are in Primary Schools only. There also aren’t National Standards in technology, which was one of the areas in which Lead and Expert teachers were expressly listed as being desired. This cannot possibly be true.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — January 24, 2014 @ 3:13 pm

  17. I’ll be interested to see how that compares to gallery coverage of the Greens and Labour policies, and whether they all decide ‘the money doesn’t add up.’

    There may be less scepticism than ‘normal’ because this program wouldn’t start until 2017. They can just refer to great growth estimates and leave it til then.

    Comment by StephenR — January 24, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

  18. To some extent National doesn’t need to ‘win’ swing voters. They still have a big bunch of them. They mainly need to retain them, and perhaps win a few more.

    How hard National need to work to do that is determined by the opposition, and possibly by voter reaction to a potential deal between National and the Conservatives.

    With Labour playing in non-centrist Green territory (or being conveyed as such), National will be fairly happy. If Labour pitch more to the swing voters, those centrists who are a little bit unhappy with National will have somewhere else to go.

    Cunliffe’s strategy of getting non-voters to the polling booths seem odd to me – it’s based on a potentially false assumption about how those people will vote.

    Comment by Andrew — January 24, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

  19. “feeling guilty about this and transmuting that into anxiety about school and teachers”

    no, at this stage of the year its a relief the little gems are almost back at school and not bouncing off the walls at home.

    Anxiety comes at mid year reports when you realise your kids teacher is a lemon.

    Comment by Grant — January 24, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

  20. …or the realisation that little Oscar or Clementine is a lemon.

    The whole thing smacks of a solution to white liberal middle class parent’s made up problem as DM has pointed out.

    Which is great politics in election year, but in terms of measurable outcome…?

    Comment by Gregor W — January 24, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

  21. “…Clementine is a lemon…”

    A Clementine is actually a type of orange. Sorry.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 24, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

  22. It’s all citrus.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 24, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

  23. “…It’s all citrus….”

    I dare you to tell the liberal feminists it doesn’t matter what sort of citrus you are.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 24, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

  24. My parents are teachers and often I disagree with them which most probably shows how much I know. None the less I per say do not see the problem of having a good principal helping an average one, as I know there are vast degrees of compentance. However I would see two problems with this
    1) Teachers, especially those who have made it all the way to principals really do not like being told what to do. As such even if ‘good’ principal gave them tips half would be like na, and do the opposite.
    2) A principal who does their job well is normally already a stressball of doom who is run of their feet. I have no idea how their school is meant to cope with having them there only 60% of the time, unless they actually change from a stressball to an exploding ball. Surely it would make more sense to have less of them, but take them out of schools so they could do it full time if you were to do it.

    Comment by Jeff Rosie — January 25, 2014 @ 4:02 am

  25. I think there’s things wrong with our education system. What about tertiary students, who are getting a Student Allowance that is comparable to the amount you get on the dole? What about the problems that NCEA has thrown up amongst secondary pupils? A lot of secondary students aren’t sitting their NCEA exams because they can’t be bothered or because they know they have enough credits to pass without doing it so they just do nothing and the education system, the teachers and administrators, can’t do anything to encourage them to sit their exams because the system discourages it for those that will pass anyway. Maybe we need to revert back to Scool Cert. Or maybe we need something that is more of a compromise between NCEA and School Certificate, so that you do get credits throughout the wntire school year but you need to sit your exams in order to be able to pass your subjects and gain those academic qualifications.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 25, 2014 @ 10:40 am

  26. >I think there’s things wrong with our education system. What about tertiary students, who are getting a Student Allowance that is comparable to the amount you get on the dole?

    Fuck, that’s like one of the only good things about current tertiary funding, that at least *some* people still get paid a subsistence rate toward their education (they still have to pay their fees though), and can, theoretically, study full time like all those baby boomers used to take for granted. *Most* students do NOT get this allowance.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 25, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

  27. “…I think there’s things wrong with our education system….”

    I have had a lot of thirty something New Yorkers through my house lately (it seems it is the “visit NZ cycle” again) and without exception they’ve all gone on from their undergraduate degree to do masters and all have done a lot of on-the-job tertiary training (one of the girls is a crime scene forensic scientist, she tells just the best Kay Scarpetta stories). But anyway, Americans seem to see their undergraduate degree as the foundation document to their career choice, not a three year slog for a meal ticket after which you never need darken the door of the halls of learning again.

    Of course, that Philistine genius Steven Joyce has axed student allowances for most post graduate studies. I so wonder how that bit of crassly ignorant stupidity fits into the whole better educational future John Key now suddenly wants for us all?

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 25, 2014 @ 2:01 pm

  28. The Student Allowance should be more than the Unemployment Benefit because students have taken it upon themselves to do something with their working days. I reckon the Student Allowance should be set at about $25 or $30 higher than the Unemployment Benefit. I’m sorry there was some confusion as to what I was meaning in my first comment on this thread.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — January 25, 2014 @ 2:24 pm

  29. Psycho Milt is on to it, it’s an expensive plan to undermine teacher unions. And how come we can afford this policy but providing breakfast in low decile schools is too expensive?

    Comment by Corokia — January 25, 2014 @ 2:27 pm

  30. @Sanc: Your anecdote about American visitors seems irrelevant.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 25, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

  31. >But anyway, Americans seem to see their undergraduate degree as the foundation document to their career choice, not a three year slog for a meal ticket after which you never need darken the door of the halls of learning again.

    Yup. Post grad is the new undergrad.

    > I’m sorry there was some confusion as to what I was meaning in my first comment on this thread.

    OK, sorry about that. I guess I’ve just heard the other opinion so often… Yes, I think students should be paid more than the unemployed. They have a lot more costs, and they should be able to use the “free” time they have to study, rather than scragging away at some minimum wage weekend job, unless they really like having the extra dosh. It shouldn’t be means tested, either.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — January 26, 2014 @ 4:13 pm

  32. Rather sane piece of writing on the problem of National and its continual bullshit when it comes to what matters in this country

    Comment by fear all — January 26, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  33. “A lot of secondary students aren’t sitting their NCEA exams …because they know they have enough credits to pass without doing it”

    So they’re getting qualified *and* using their time efficiently. What’s the problem here?

    “one of the girls is a crime scene forensic scientist”

    Wow, Sanc, that’s a pretty impressive job for someone who hasn’t completed puberty.

    Comment by helenalex — January 27, 2014 @ 2:18 pm

  34. “…“one of the girls is a crime scene forensic scientist”

    Wow, Sanc, that’s a pretty impressive job for someone who hasn’t completed puberty…”

    Huh? What are you talking about?

    Oh! I get it! I have committed the unspeakable language crime of using the term “girls” when I should have said wimin! Somewhere a liberal hipster just cracked an expensive bottle of craft beer in your honour.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 27, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

  35. Somewhere a liberal hipster just cracked an expensive bottle of craft beer in your honour.

    Afraid not. Apparently a “night out with the boys” has just become somewhat unsavoury.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 27, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

  36. @Sanc: Calm down, boy.

    @Gregor: Yes, yes, people talk about ‘drinks with the boys’ etc. That’s why I’m okay with ‘girls’ night out’ (well, actually I think it’s a bit lame. But it’s probably not sexist). People on boys/girls nights out are generally not being particularly adult, so the belittling language gets a pass. But referring to someone with a proper grown up job as a child is just kind of odd. I mean, if someone said ‘I met this boy, he was a police officer’, you would assume either a) the person in question is six years old and playing cops and robbers, or b) the speaker is 90 years old and considers everyone under retirement age as basically a child.

    Comment by helenalex — January 27, 2014 @ 4:25 pm

  37. @helenalex

    How is it any more absurd than 40 year olds having girlfriends or boyfriends? Or using ‘lady’ as synonymous for ‘woman’?
    I think Sanc a 90 year old language pass given that he sometimes writes like Trotsky.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 27, 2014 @ 4:54 pm

  38. The irony of all this, helenalex, is over at kiwipolitico you are falling over yourself in your eagerness to agree with Pablo on the general hopelessness of the left, whilst happily exhibiting exactly the sort of liberal myopic obsession with pointless identity issues here that Pablo is bemoaning in his thread.

    I mean, in a discussion about education is the most important thing you can find to post about is common vernacular? Seriously? I am constantly astonished at the political narcissism of the liberal feminist left who always want to make the discussion all about them. Honestly, sort.it.out. We’ve got bigger fish to fry on the left than hating on a detail of how everyone talks.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 27, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

  39. @Gregor: How is it any more absurd than 40 year olds having girlfriends or boyfriends? Or using ‘lady’ as synonymous for ‘woman’?
    The first one is pretty absurd too, but until someone comes up with a synonym that doesn’t sound dodgy (so, not ‘lover’) we’re stuck with it. Using lady as synonymous for women is pretty weird too.

    @Sanc. Oh good, so you’re going to at least sort of engage with me instead of blurting out what I think were meant to be insults. (Seriously, did some young person tell you that ‘hipster’ is the cool new all-purpose insult?) Anyway, I agree with you that obsessing over identity issues is one of the things holding the left back. So, three points:

    a) One of the other things holding the left back is people who insist on using derogatory and exclusionary language even though they know full well that it pisses people off. If you don’t want to turn the discussion into an argument about sexist language don’t use language which you know to be sexist. It’s that easy! And it’s not like this is something which you couldn’t reasonably know about; you’ve been involved with the hard left for years; you can’t possibly tell me you haven’t heard someone object to ‘girls’ before.

    b) Yes, there are more important things in the world than your use of ‘girls’, but instead of doing those things we’d both already decided to waste time on the internet instead. And I think you’ll find feminists more likely to join you in working for a socialist utopia if you don’t casually belittle women and insult most of the feminist movement.

    c) The fact that you haven’t even tried to justify your choice of language suggests you know it’s not okay. Look, I know it’s annoying to be called out on stuff like this, and I know that sometimes people do it in unreasonable ways. I doubt you’re sexist in any meaningful way; I think you just weren’t thinking. But I also think that what matters in these situations is how you respond to being called out (because you’re a left-wing activist – it’ll happen no matter how hard you try to be PC). If you want a more harmonious and co-operative left, then acknowledging your mistake and moving on will help a lot better than insults and accusations.

    Comment by helenalex — January 27, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

  40. I apologize for using two semi-colons in one sentence; casual sexism is one thing, but that kind of Proustesque (not in a good way) sentence structure is just not on.

    Comment by helenalex — January 27, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

  41. @Helena: Do you really think what you’re saying now is something Pablo would agree with?

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 27, 2014 @ 7:19 pm

  42. @Kalva: The bit about the semi-colons or what? Either way, I have no idea.

    Comment by helenalex — January 27, 2014 @ 8:44 pm

  43. @helenalex

    I’m genuinely surprised that you could find the term ‘lady’ weird when describing a woman.
    I can only imagine you haven’t spent much time around children or people with manners.

    If, in the company of another female, would you expect to be hailed by a male of your acquaintance with a cheery “Good morning, women!”

    Comment by Gregor W — January 27, 2014 @ 8:50 pm

  44. While I am discinlined to agree with Sanc for petty reasons, and I think you’re being quite charitable in assuming that he has actually been involved in left activism rather than just banging on about it online, he does have a point. When Pablo says identity-based activism needs to be subsidiary to class based activism, he is not making an exception for times when feminists hear something offensive – if he was, what he’s saying would be essentially meaningless.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 27, 2014 @ 8:58 pm

  45. @Gregor: The men I know generally don’t feel the need to point out the gender of whoever they’re talking to, so just say ‘good morning’.

    @Kal: Okay, so at what point is it acceptable for feminists to object to things? Can we object to rape jokes? Verbal sexual harassment? Physical sexual harassment? Or should we be giving anything a pass as long as it comes from someone on the left?

    Comment by helenalex — January 28, 2014 @ 7:44 am

  46. @helenalex: Fair call, but the usage of ‘ladies’ is an acceptable social convention.
    Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but I think it would be a terrible shame to remove honorific politeness (directed to ladies or gentlemen) from the vernacular on the basis of feminist identity-based analysis.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 28, 2014 @ 8:43 am

  47. @Helena: Hey, don’t ask me when it is and isn’t acceptable. I’m not the one who’s signed up to Pablo’s “feminists (and also Maori and gays) need to shut up and let class analysis take the foreground” manifesto.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 28, 2014 @ 9:03 am

  48. @Kal So what was the point you were making at #44, because clearly I’ve missed it.

    @Gregor: I thought about writing a far too long post about the various contexts of ‘ladies’, but it’s really not important. If you want to use the word I’m not going to jump down your throat about it.

    Comment by helenalex — January 28, 2014 @ 9:30 am

  49. @helenalex: I absolutely get that there are contextual issues. There are with a lot of words.
    But given that context is generally an amalgamation of the objective usage and the subjective perception (and all the misinterpretation and confusion that involves), I figure that as long as you use a word in ‘good faith’ – so to speak – it’s OK.

    Comment by Gregor W — January 28, 2014 @ 9:44 am

  50. @Helena: That you’re approaching hypocrisy by nodding along to Pablo’s soft denunciation of feminism as a salient issue over at Kiwipolitico, and then acting on them here. If you think that women are entitled to take offense when people say these kinds of things, you don’t agree with Pablo.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 28, 2014 @ 6:13 pm

  51. @Gregor: We could have a quite interesting discussion about good faith (what constitutes real good faith, perception vs intent, etc) but this really isn’t the place for it. I broadly agree with you though.

    @Kal: Okay, I must have missed the bit where he denounced feminism, and I *definitely* missed the bit where I agreed with it. Could you point me at both parts please? Also, was my supposed assent to what you think Pablo said your point this whole time? Because we both would have wasted a whole lot less time if you had actually said so at the start.

    Also, does anyone else remember when this blog had nested comments, so diversions like this could be separated out? That was great.

    Comment by helenalex — January 28, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

  52. He described feminism as part of the “chattering left”, whose “activists (are) all too often splintered into narrowly focused groups”. That doesn’t sound like a soft denunciation of feminism to you? I mean he’s not yelling at women to get back in the kitchen, but that’s basically just a difference of tone. You later told him you “broadly agree” and that “the first step is creating class consciousness”.

    Comment by kalvarnsen — January 28, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

  53. ‘Broadly agree’ does not mean ‘agree with everything, and also all the implications which could be derived thereof’.

    ‘Chattering left’ is a bit derogatory, I agree, but he also says that feminists who accuse leftists of being patriarchal have a point. The bit about splinter groups was about the political left, not feminists or the wider ‘chattering left’. If you have a problem with what Pablo says, take it to him.

    The bit I agree with is that the left spends too much time arguing amongst itself. Some of this is feminists jumping on anything which could remotely be considered sexist to the point where it’s very difficult to have a conversation. However, some of it is people who seem to regard any discussion of gender issues as a distraction from the ‘real’ issues (all of this also applies to other identity politics). What needs to happen is for everyone to do their best to avoid derogatory and exclusionary language (like saying ‘girl’ when they mean ‘women’) and actions, and to apologise when they slip up. In return, identity politics activists (what Pablo would call the chattering left, I suppose) need to assume that if an ally uses a dodgy term, it’s probably a mistake rather than evidence of bigotry. In this scenario, the argument above would have gone: Sanctuary uses the term ‘girl’ without thinking; I point out that it’s the wrong word; he concedes it was a poor word choice; everyone moves on.

    In terms of whether class should take precedence over gender, I’m not as convinced as Pablo. I think sometimes it should and sometimes it shouldn’t, depending on the situation. The need to build working class consciousness is more urgent than the need to build feminist consciousness, though, because all women see themselves as women, even if they’re not feminist, whereas there’s not much in the way of working class identity in New Zealand. If you’re going to mobilise a group, that group needs to acknowledge its own existence first. Anyway, in practical terms gender/class is not usually an either/or deal. Unionisation, raising the minimim wage, and so forth benefit working class women at least as much as working class men, and things like paid parental leave are feminist and socialist issues. People can focus their activism on class or gender or whatever they want; they just need to support each other and work together on shared issues.

    Comment by helenalex — January 29, 2014 @ 8:40 am

  54. “…but instead of doing those things we’d both already decided to waste time on the internet instead…”

    Actually, it wasn’t me who decided to waste time on the internet on this topic, it was you.

    “…In this scenario, the argument above would have gone: Sanctuary uses the term ‘girl’ without thinking; I point out that it’s the wrong word; he concedes it was a poor word choice…”

    Oh I see, that is how it should go if only I follow the approved script. Well, I am not going to concede using the word “girls” was wrong, because AFAIC it was not. 99.9% of the rest of the english speaking world use the term in exactly that way. Neither you or anyone else is going to lecture me on some trivial point of the use of venacular language.

    Comment by Sanctuary — January 29, 2014 @ 9:53 am

  55. You keep saying that this issue is trivial and petty, and yet you won’t just walk away from the argument, which tells me that you think being able to call women ‘girls’ and not be criticised for it is really, really important. (Or that you can’t handle not having the last word.)

    Anyway, if you want to use a word which pretty much every feminist in the universe has a problem with, be my guest. Just don’t complain when feminist groups aren’t interested in working with you, or generally distrust the hard left. And yes, it is a minor issue, but if you’re not willing to make such a minor and painless change, you clearly won’t be willing to do anything which requires actual effort. The left is fractured partly because some people engage in petty PC point scoring, but a bigger problem is people like you want everything on your own terms, and whine and whinge whenever anyone criticises you for anything.

    Comment by helenalex — January 29, 2014 @ 11:20 am

  56. Might not be a vote swinger for parents, but could be for teachers? Keeping the teachers happy in election year could be a good strategy?

    Comment by Ms WonderOutLoud — February 2, 2014 @ 12:03 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: