November 17, 2008


Today all of the students I teach in the senior school sat their NCEA exams because today was biology day. I haven't seen any of the exams, but the word from the few students I did see was that there were no surprises... Which is good. It is really hard to prepare students for surprise exams - how do you know what to teach them? Sure, I could take the high moral ground and give them a good general education, but there is pretty questionable morality in not giving my charges the best possible chance to pass the exam. Which is what they and their parents care about. That's the ticket that will get them into the places they want to go. Not many universities actively seek out the generally educated, but completely unqualified...
The junior exams I set for the kids also seem to have worked well. There are a spread of marks, and most are around the middle. Those who have worked the hardest have done the best with one notable exception.
The exception is a boy who has a reading age of about five (he is fourteen or fifteen). This year he has not done any science at all. Not attended any classes. His maths is pretty average (not as bad as his reading but not high school level), and he has got better marks than anyone in my average band class. He had a reader/writer that is known for being very kind. So one of my jobs tomorrow is to try and work out how much help our VERY kind reader/writer who has a science background has given my limited student.
I very much like this time of the year when I don't have many classes to teach - today I had one and tomorrow I have two. It won't be half as good next year, as I am going to be teaching two religious education classes at the junior level, so I won't be losing many classes at all...

Posted by Toni at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2008

Not cut out for NaPoBloMo

I've already missed heaps of days in trying to blog every day - and you know what is even worse I actually don't care. What I have noticed is that I am posting more than I have in months, and surely that is the point?

The thing that I am enjoying most at the moment is playing the violin. I am still doing the singing lessons, and go every week and practice every day, and enjoy it. I am allowed to do an exam next year which is very exciting, but when I walk into the music room, what I pick up first is the violin. I like the motion of bowing, I like the beauty of the instrument, and sometimes when I know something well enough and relax I like the feeling of my left hand making the notes, and my fingers going up and down like pistons on the fingerboard. Sometimes when I get the bow in the right place and going at the right speed I can make a beautiful sound. And tonight the violin teacher told R that I was a good violinist (I couldn't go this week so he took C on his own). Its good to have something like this in my life.

For years I have done the craft thing and I do enjoy it, but I think my zeitgeber is music. Its good to get back to what I love doing.

Posted by Toni at 04:48 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2008

So THAT"S why they like them

Kids at school love computer games. They play the ones at home, and they play on-line ones. I've never played anything except really basic ones, and I have never understood why they are so popular.

Recently I bought Lego Star Wars II for the senior son. And of course I had to try it, at the minimum to learn enough of how it works to be able to teach him. Its Very Addictive. So far I have completed one story, but I only have true jedi status in one chapter. There are three stories as far as we can work out.

Becuase the chapters are all set in different places there are different things to do each time. I have done one flying section so far, and I don't think you could say it is a strength of mine. I died lots of time doing that one. Some of the problem solving is okay for me, and the observation ones are good. C is good at the flying. R is really good at the problem solving.

And I found an online cheat form that means when I am completely stuck and have run out of ideas I can look up what to do.

The only thing I don't like about the game is that it keeps track of how much time I have spent on it, and so I have to face up to the truth....

Posted by Toni at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2008

Oh the panic

The students are suddenly very motivated when it comes to getting their assignments done. I think it must be something to do with the end of the year and their need for university entrance and credits in general. Funny little creatures. But I can't be too superior as I too only work if there is a deadline involved. No deadline, no thing done. Its not something that has won me a lot of friends, or gained me a lot of self esteem. But there you go, we all need personality faults so we have something to work on after we stop gaining qualifications.

Only one more teaching day and then there is a big sit on my bottom day with Mass in the morning, then sports prizegiving and then academic prizegiving. Then on Wednesday the seniors leave and its just me and the juniors together.

Posted by Toni at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2008

violin lesson

R normally takes C to his violin lesson. R owns a violin, C is hiring one and I own one. So the front room is full of violins and violin stuff. Rosin, bows, music stands and a box that a new bow came in... must put that in the bin, it sure ain't useful. Now that the kid has moved school its really good, because now I will get to the occasional lesson too.

Because I do more violin practice than anyone else in this house. And I'm not even supposed to be learning the blasted instrument. Its just that its addictive. I picked R's one up one day to fiddle with it, and just see what it is like, and a couple of months later I'm still fiddling with it, and slowly getting better. So it was great to get an actual lesson and find out how to fix some of my problems!

The technician at school has also played the violin and owns a very old violin that needs some repairs, and today she bought in both her bows. My bow is a piece of cheep crap, and it really shows when I play the lowest string. I can borrow one of her bows. I think I will for a while, but that I will stick with my plan to get a bow for Christmas. I don't like having other people's stuff on indefinite loan - its hard to work out what to do if anything goes wrong, and if I have to give the bow back I still won't have one of my own. And then I would have to play with the crappy one again, which would be worse after I had got used to a decent one.

When I started I could understand why people spent money on a decent instrument, but I didn't think there could be much difference between bows. Now I know better but I still couldn't buy a $9000 bow, which is the most expensive one listed at the Stringed Instrument Company in Auckland! I got my whole kit for $400 - case, bow and instrument as well as the crappiest rosin anyone could get to sit in a tin. I can see that getting a better kit will be desirable if I keep up this addiction.

Poor budget

Posted by Toni at 07:25 PM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2008

Damn, already missed a day

I didn't even think about the blog last night as I struggled through some marking and sung and played the violin and got my hair dyed.

Mind you, when I look at that list, I think I know why I forgot....

Did you see Barack Obama won? I was so cheerful about that I nearly went out and bought some wine. It would be hard to explain why I care more about the American election than our own. But lets try!

First up, the present incumbent is apparently stupid, and I don't like that in a leader. Bush is war-happy, and also doesn't seem to see the consequences of his actions, and it hasn't done anything good for the world. So moving away from this style of leader is good according to me.

Second, Barack is black, and it seems to me the more black people that have roles like this the less important their colour is. After all, no-one is making any newspaper inches from Helen Clark's gender, because women in leadership are no longer interesting stories. So if more black people do leadership stuff eventually it won't be an issue.

Thirdly, Barack seems a really good person with high ideals. While Bush has never given me the impression he has many ideals, let alone high ones. So this is a move towards idealistic politicians. If we are aiming for an ideal world, we may not get there but things might improve.

Fourthly, if Sarah Palin was the President of the United States of America, even for a day, I'd be terribly depressed about the fate of the world. And that is an emotional, melodramatic, and shallow response, which I am not proud of.

Posted by Toni at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2008


I went and did my voting for our election on Saturday, and when you go and do it early you have to say why you aren't voting on Election Day. There were things like I will not be in my electorate on The Day, I will have surgery and all sorts of things.

They don't have "I have time today, and it was really convenient".

There were lots of people turning up to do their vote early. People before me and people after... I wonder what their reasons were?

I then went down to the market to get a couple of things, and of course all the candidates were there leafletting anything that moved - the person I voted for tried to give me something, and I was able to say I've been, I've voted, and I voted for YOU!

Posted by Toni at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 02, 2008

Statements of the blindingly obvious

C is doing reconciliation training at the moment at church, before he makes his first confession/reconciliation. It takes about four or five weeks and involves them going to a half hour class each Sunday before Mass. Today we got a little note saying that doing the class is only part of the process and that the kids are expected to come to Mass after the class.

I was amazed. I didn't know you would have to state that kind of thing - if you send your kid to reconciliation training, wouldn't you then go to Mass? Apparently, half the students walked out of the class last week and went out to where their parents were waiting for them in their class, jumped in and drove away...

On that basis why would you bother sending your kid to the classes at all??


Posted by Toni at 06:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2008

NaPoMoBlo or something like it

Apparently, there is some kind of website ( where you can sign up to take part part in blogging every day for the month of November. This poor neglected blog, where you are now reading the words, could do with a lot of entries, so without actually signing up, I'm going to give it a go.

Starting with a question- Why November? November is also known as Movember, where men in NZ grow their facial hair to raise money for prostate cancer research. It's had a bit of funny history lately, as various organisations have said they won't support it, or there was the girls one of not shaving for a month either, and I haven't seen any advertising for Movember this year. So perhaps it is off.

But what is it about November that inspires these month long orgies of consistently doing something?

Anyway, lets all see if I can consistently do anything for a month!

Posted by Toni at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)