Alwyn Poole

Alwyn Poole founded and was the head of Mt Hobson Middle School in Auckland for 18 years. MH Academy is now an in person private school for Years 11–13. There is now a nationwide online provision called Mt Hobson Academy Connected for Years 113.

  1. This week the NZ Education Review Office (ERO) released a damning behaviour of school behaviour in NZ:

    I will write about it more fully in a few places during next week.

    One very key point is that this is not just a threat to the development of children for a year or two. With an extreme – but relevant example – Stanford Neuro-Scientist David Eagleman makes that clear.

    One case that I cover in my television show The Brain is the issue of the Romanian orphanages. After the fall of Ceausescu there were hundreds of thousands of kids in these orphanages because their parents have been killed, and it was too much for the staff. They said, ‘Look, just don’t talk to the kids. Don’t pick them up, because otherwise the kids will get clingy.’ So these kids grew up without the proper input and as a result, they had major cognitive deficits. We see this in really tragic cases where a child is so severely neglected that they don’t have an adult talking to them or giving them love. They end up with really deep problems, like they don’t even learn language. They can’t even learn how to chew solid food, or see across the room or things like this. The problem is – as you pointed to – the door closes at some point. You only have a certain number of years to get that input and to develop the brain. After that, it is too late. Yes, it is a lesson for all parents to make certain that you’re giving your child plenty of love and attention and touch and language, and so on.
    One of his very strong recommendations is that – if the environment is damaging a child – get them out of it! Parents should think hard on that. I am no longer involved – but the Mt Hobson Academy (Y1–13) – online school – with brilliant teachers, virtual classrooms and an outstanding curriculum is a very good option for many:
  2. In terms of what we have done to childhood, as reflected in school behaviour and achieving: it has been a long-time coming and is so worth unwinding. This from Neil Postman in The Disappearance of Childhood (1982).
    Curiosity is replaced by cynicism or, even worse, arrogance. We are left with children who rely not on authoritative adults but on news from nowhere. We are left with children who are given answers to questions they never asked. We are left, in short, without children.
    This attributed to Socrates prior to 399BC.

    The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room.

    3. A good number of parents/families contact me for help and advice with their children. They normally start with; “I know you are busy” or “Do you have time?”
    My life work is working with/for children. I always have time. As well as one off conversations I can also do formal guidance for families who are looking to improve things for their children. Please feel free to contact and to pass on.

Alwyn Poole

[email protected]

Innovative Education Consultants

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