Cultural Perspectives

July 21, 2009

kidsWhen you belong to a particular culture there tends to be certain attributes that you value and want to preserve. These usually include language, ways-of-knowing, particular ways of communicating and common values. You are usually more at ease with people who are within your culture and with whom you share these common values.

I want to tell you what it is like to belong to a culture that appears to be foreign to many. My language is carelessly mispronounced; meanings are distorted sometimes to the point of complete inaccuracy or misrepresentation. Often, you find these inaccuracies perpetuated in Read the rest of this entry »


Secret of Success ….

May 11, 2009 photos of objects

In Charles Darwin’s early days his dad decided that his son was to be a doctor, so he was sent to Edinburgh to study medicine.  He did not do well in medicine and so was then sent away to Cambridge to study theology.  However, he kept being distracted by natural history and one thing led to another and the rest is … well, history.

Charles Darwin’s son apparently asked one of his school mates “when does your dad categorise his barnacles?”   The son obviously did not realise that everyone’s dad does not spend all day wondering about collecting and examining stuff, and that most dad’s had some sort of occupation.  However, Read the rest of this entry »

What are we?

April 22, 2009


One of the reasons that ITOs came into existence was due to the impression that polytechnics were out of touch with industry. And here we are, a decade or so later, and we still hear that polytechnics are out of touch. 

So let us examine this.  I know from my experience that ITO based training is not necessarily better than polytechnic education – note the deliberate use of the words training and education.  Polytechnics have significant overheads – academic boards, compliance, administration, and buildings, which sometimes simply make us a more expensive option. 

Read the rest of this entry »

What Does the Future Hold?

April 2, 2009

balloonOne particular summer in the very early 1980s, my friend and I went everywhere together wearing matching hats. Mine was green and hers was pink. They had imitation flowers on the front of them and they were very hideous (yes, I do have photos). We loved them. That is, until “Princess” Diana started wearing hats and it become fashionable. That was it; our hats were discarded in Read the rest of this entry »

Boys Are Different from Girls ….

March 13, 2009

mountainWhile driving to town one day, my daughter who was 6 at the time proceeded to tell me all about how she knows about how girls are different from boys.

“How so?” I curiously enquired, wondering what the playground conversations and activities had been that lunchtime.

“Well,” she says “it’s all about how they drive”. With some relief, I nod in agreement and ask for more details. “It’s quite obvious really – boys drive Read the rest of this entry »

Women’s Institute of Technology ….

March 4, 2009

azalea-flowersI was standing in the queue for the café the other day and I looked at all the people.  Women outnumbered men at about 3 to 1.   I was sitting at a meeting the other day and women outnumbered men at about 10 to 1.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a criticism but it is an interesting phenomenon. Where have all the men gone?


We all know that supposedly girls thrive in the NCEA (National Certificate in Educational Achievement) environment where they are rewarded for persistent effort.  Where as boys classically thrive in the competitive environments of exams and last minute cramming.  So, are Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Conversations

February 26, 2009

bookI find it very interesting how the language we use changes as we change. When my kids were really little they would proudly show me their little stories that they had written. “I went to Sam’s house and it was fun,” followed closely with “we ate popcorn and it was fun”. As they got to be a pre-teen it was “Like, and it was sooo funny! And like, she was sooo funny and it was like, soooo random!” I did at one stage think that middle daughter had a very good grasp of quantum physics since her main conversation was about acts of randomness. I found it mildly interesting that things had moved from being fun – to being funny. Then, as they become teenagers, somehow the word “fun” has gone completely from their conversation, “funny” doesn’t seem to enter into it anymore, and it has all Read the rest of this entry »

In My Opinion.

February 16, 2009

graduates-0021In my opinion, the main difference between a university and a polytechnic is the type of conversations that the staff have.

We often say that the main difference between a polytechnic and a university is the type of degree that they do – polytechnic being applied, universities more theoretical. But universities are offering more and more applied degrees and courses – especially as technology changes, and I am not convinced that there is a clear demarcation anymore.

In terms of responsibilities, universities tend to have responsibility to a community of knowledge, to expand on that body of knowledge and this is usually done through research. What therefore are the responsibilities of the polytechnic sector? Are they to the workplace? To the student? To the Read the rest of this entry »

Great Expectations

February 10, 2009

fine-artMoving on from coffee now, but sticking to weight problems, I have another story for you. Some time after my third child was born, I decided to try and engage some professional help to eliminate some excess baggage.

My ‘baby bump’ that had remained was so convincing that I was getting tired of gently informing people that it was not “due anytime now” as it was in fact, fat. It got so that as soon as I would see people looking at my middle area with a cutesy smile on their face I would fire off a quick “Not pregnant, just fat” remark and move on quickly while they tried to recover from their embarrassment. Read the rest of this entry »

Lost in Translation …

February 8, 2009

dscf0306Keeping to the coffee theme of my last blog I want to tell you what happened to me in Auckland.  I was walking down Queen Street with my husband looking for somewhere to stop for a coffee when we saw Starbucks.   Recognising it as somewhere you can get said beverage, we popped on in. 


Everybody in the café appeared to us to be of Asian descent.  The staff, the clientele, even the cleaner.  Now, my husband is half Hungarian and the hairdresser often comments on how ‘asian’ his hair is (Hungary was overtaken by Attila the Hun at some stage in its history), so we blended right in.   We stepped forward and ordered “Two flat whites” and then stood to the side to wait for them, looking very inconspicuous.  We idly discussed what else we could do on our Read the rest of this entry »