Nga mihi ki a koe, greetings,
Ryan rumbles to his feet and looks across the students gathered in home base eight.
“Well, just a reminder that today it’s a two strikes policy: first time you’re naughty you have to write out a thinking sheet, second time and we phone your parents. So let’s all be good.”
He sits down amid a ripple of, what? Approval perhaps, or maybe just affirmation. After all, these children, the students from Totara syndicate, have heard Ryan’s message plenty in the past fortnight. He hammered it home on the campaign trail and this is what roughly half of them voted for.
Today, Tuesday, is student government day at Wakefield School and Ryan is the Minister of Justice, surfing to power at last Friday’s election on a strong mandate for the Action Progressive Party. Led by Isla - now Prime Minister - the Action Progressive Party went head to head with the Choice and Kiwi Parties to woo the votes of their 150-strong electorate.
All parties put up policies in Education, Health, Justice, Finance and the Environment; all developed their own brands and slogans, posters and platforms. They held a leaders’ debate which, as the fortunate chairman, I can tell you was rigorous, incisive and hotly contested. Voters had to enroll prior to voting and polling was conducted using the real booths and boxes we had onsite for Saturday’s general election.
I hammer on a lot to you about our emerging democratic curriculum and how we will improve achievement by allowing children to lead their learning. What better example of democratic curriculum can we have than to let our kids loose to study democracy?
I’ve spent much of today watching the Action Progressive government in power and I can tell you it has been a day well spent at school for your child. I sat in on a science workshop run by Marshall and Blake, who captivated 20 of their peers with physics and chemistry experiments for two hours - and then did it again with a second group. At lunchtime another election promise was fulfilled with free homemade lemonade and fruit (all ingredients sourced free and local) for the whole school, organised and made by Action Progressive MPs.
New Zealand does not do well training its children how to value and operate a Democracy. When one million of us cannot be bothered to even cast a vote in a general election we seriously risk losing what our parents and grandparents sacrificed so much to win.
I think our Totara syndicate children get Democracy a bit better now than they did a couple of weeks ago, but I’ll leave the last word to Emma, from Year Six...
I enjoyed the election learning. I found forming and putting our policies together pretty brain twisting, especially because I was in charge of education and writing the education policies. I found the leaders debate entertaining and interesting to watch and to listen to. It was so life like. I feel privileged by getting to vote in proper voting booths and ballot boxes like from the real election. In 8 years I will be able to vote!
Have a great week and an enjoyable and safe school holidays.
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