You may return to class

Mark Robinson
Mark Robinson
A range of emotions will be on display as hundreds of thousands of young New Zealanders prepare to head back into school classrooms in the coming days.

We will see plenty of excitement — perhaps mostly from the bubbly youngsters and not the often more jaded teenagers — especially when it comes to renewing old friendships and making new ones.

There will be some apprehension, from the 5-year-olds preparing for ‘‘big school’’ for the first time, the 13-year-olds moving to secondary school, and the seniors bracing themselves for the challenges of NCEA.

Perhaps there will be some frustration — why has the really good weather only kicked in now? And what do you mean, it’s back to my usual bedtime?

You can be certain there will be a good amount of shock left for the parents still getting their heads around the prohibitive costs of kitting out their child in a uniform that, while it looks tidy, really should not cost so much.

(On that note, a tip of the hat to the Ministry of Education for finally committing to an investigation into the spiralling cost of school uniforms. It is imperative we remove as many barriers to a good education as possible, and uniform costs are having a negative effect on the lives of too many families.)

But there will also be plenty of hope in those little eyes and faces, and coming from the direction of parents and caregivers.

Hope that the year ahead will be rewarding, inspiring, informative — and, yes, fun.

Hope that you or your child will encounter one of those magical teachers who simply has that gift, that ability to help you learn and grow and push your brain and find a path in life.

Hope that this will be the year a spark is lit, a passion is found, a breakthrough is made.

School, as we know, is not easy for every child. It is not easy for every parent. But it is, when it works well, an absolutely vital plank in the formation of a satisfying and productive life.

We need to treasure our teachers, and cherish our schools, and give our children every possible encouragement to make the most of their days in class.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Dr Seuss was on to something. School is about using those brains and those feet (even in shoes that break the bank) to help find your direction. Get into it, kids.


Is New Zealand Rugby preparing for crisis mode or already in it?

The organisation that runs our national game last week announced an ‘‘extensive review’’ to look at how the sport is tracking and where it needs to go.

‘‘We’re experiencing an unparalleled period of change as the world is now closer, our communities are larger and connecting in modern and immediate ways, and new generations are engaging differently in activities centred around sport, entertainment and leisure,’’ NZR boss Mark Robinson said.

‘‘Now is the time to take a look at whether we can be better prepared for what the future holds.’’

And good luck with that. For the challenges facing rugby, like all traditional sports, are immense.

Player numbers are declining in key demographics, supporter interest is waning, the grass roots are on life support, and the relevance of the non-stop treadmill of elite rugby is being seriously questioned.

What’s certain is that there can be no looking back. The world has changed, sport has changed, people have changed — rugby has no choice but to change.

That doesn’t mean, of course, we need to throw the baby out with the bath water.

There is still much to like about ‘‘footy’’ in this country. There are still plenty of good people on and off the field who ooze passion for the sport.

It is finding more of those people that is the challenge.

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