Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 24. October 1, 1968
Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor
No pressure on students
Sir—We would like on behalf of our sympathisers to clarify few distorted facts concerning the formation of the Malaysian Student Association which appeared in the 'Evening Post' dated 12th Sept, and in the recent issue of the Salient.
1. We strongly denied that we have been 'dictated' to or 'ressed' by our Government to form the association. For the sake of information the Malaysian Student's Association had previously existed (1963-1965) which incorporated the student's associations of the countries forming the Federation of Malaysia. This was dissolved immediately after Singapore's separation in order to include the name of Singapore (M.S.S.A.). This move was not without strong opposition by some Malaysian students, few of whom are still at this institution. Hence the idea did not originate from the Government, but at the wish of our students.
We feel that the formation of M.S.A. is necessary for although it is to be basically a social Assn., we hope also that it will help to promote the idea of our national identity and to foster the spirit of co-operation among fellow Malaysians which is lacking under tthe present Assn. (M.S.S.A.).
The suggestion of 'blackmail' because the Malaysinn Government promise to direct its financial aid through the M.S.A. is utterly false and mischievous. We consider that it is only an appropriate measure for the Government to do so. If it is satisfied that the M.S.A. is a proper body through which to channel its aid then we certainly welcome it.
2. The M.S.A. is a voluntary Association. Malaysians can join as full members and those Singapore students who consider themselves as Malaysians, otherwise other students of interested members can join as associate members. Therefore there is absolutely no basis for some students to fear that they will be 'prejudices' or that certain action will be taken against those who do not wish to join. This is an unfair criticism against our Government.
3. Finally we would like to reiterate that we strongly denied any notion of forming n 'pure Malay Association'. This sort of suggestion is highly prejudicial to all Malaysians. Such an idea is completely unfounded and contrary to the aim of the Association and the ideal of our multiracial society. We consider that it is for the benefit of all Malaysians and every other student to join us if they so desire.
No need for Student Union
Sir—I note with interest that an attempt is to be made to form a Union of Secondary School Pupils in the Wellington area.
Secondary education in New Zealand is in a sad state and from whichever angle one looks the circle is vicious. Conditions for both pupils and teachers are bad, mainly because there are too few qualified teachers. Teachers are scarce because conditions are bad. But perhaps the circle is even more vicious than the organisers Of the projected union realise. I suggest that their desire to 'get a union on its feet' to raise questions on such subjects as 'corporal punishment, school uniforms, unproductive punishment, religious observances and examinations' stems from a sudden rush of blood and freedom to the head rather than a morbid desire to see the circle even more vicious in Wellington. I should state now that it is not the importance of these matters to both pupils and society that I am questioning, but merely the wisdom of forming a union of secondary school pupils, at the present time, to consider these questions. Four terms' residence as a Master in a secondary school has made me aware of the undesirable aspects of all these things, which really bear little relation to one another except as things fostered by the Establishment.
On the surface the idea of a union for secondary school pupils may look good. But it seems to me the idea is impracticable for Wellington at the present time. For a start there are far more pupils who could conceivably want to use the facilities of such a union than could ever be catered for adequately. As well, there are problems of widely different levels of maturity.
Then, where will the pupils meet? Past students of Otago and Victoria Universities paid for over thirty years into a building fund before a foundation was dug. Are the pupils of Wellington prepared to finance a building scheme? And if it isn't going to be 'that sort of a union' with a Common Room and all, it must just going to be a 'movement' which has 'frank and open talks'. The organisers must realise that without action following discussion the formation of a union is quite pointless. I contend that any action cannot help the present situation, which is festering unhappily without any help from a union.
I believe there are Other reasons than practicability for not having a union at the present time. In the best schools in Wellington the sixth forms have at least thirty in them. These top forms, which would be most interested in joining a union, are being groomed for U.E., U.B., Schol. A teacher has about forty minutes to transfer a section of the year's course from his notes to the minds of the pupils. It isn't enough to leave the class to do its understanding at home because there isn't going to be time for either personal or group tutorials. So much to do, so little time! This is the problem, and while the teacher recognises it, the pupils don't. Almost anything is better than Jane Austen or Young's Experiment. But the teacher has a job to do and a responsibility to his pupils to see they get to the age of consent with at least no worse an academic background than others in the ratrace. To fulfil this responsibility the classroom teacher needs three things: control, rapport, class receptiveness. His problem is how to achieve a workable measure of all three, and the most familiar formula is to rely on the system for the first, himself for the second, and a combination of both for the third. In my opinion the whole process of socks-up, capson, please-sir 100-lines' is a partly functional hangover from the days when this type of discipline was winning the Battle of Waterloo and girls went to finishing school instead of sociology classes. Functional in establishing the quite artificial authority of the teacher. I admit a thoroughly bad thing for the immediate development of the pupil in all but academic directions, but while under this sedation the most boring things can be made to seem important, it not interesting. The implications of conditioned control are obvious and while I don't argue that academic progress is more important than any other kind in the adolescent, the system does make an impossible situation merely damned difficult. The system also helps class receptiveness. Under the present system intra class rivalry can do much good. Competition, like obedience, must be nurtured from academic infancy. A union of the type we can conceivably see formed in Wellington (whatever fairytale setup is envisaged), if it acts, would tend to displace the school as the sort of reference point it has usefully been for pupils.
Undermining the authority of the teacher by organising pupils into open revolt at the sixth-form level is not going to help things one iota. Wouldn't we all love to see wonderful schools full of fastmaturing young people. Wouldn't we love to teach in a situation where the artificial barriers between pupil and teacher could be forgotten. Instead we must see what is before our eyes—a shocking situation that combined, 'guided' action on the part of pupils cannot possibly help. We must take the good with the bad until it becomes more realistic to ask teachers to be sympathetic, authoritative, crystal-clear, interestering and humble all in the same forty minutes, and to get the immense load of work done without suppressing any of those priceless though disruptive creative instincts. Forget the union! Let's act at this level in the direction of increased expenditure on secondary schools!
Sir—Our attention has been drawn to an item in the "Left Outside" column of your issue of 10 September.
The demand for Volume 1 of the Census of Population and Dwellings has certainly exceeded the Government Printer's expectations. There has been also an unexpected nature in the demand: we understand that the final copies in the Government Bookshop in Auckland were bought by Japanese tourists.
However, the situation is being met by a reprint of the volume. The Government Printer has this matter in hand and copies of the report will be available for the next academic year along with other publications.
J. B. McKinney,
For J. V. T. Baker,
McKinnon is no clean-cut gull
Sir—Not content with restricting her clangers to the lecture room, Christine Rowlands seems anxious to continue her mistake-strewn path into the columns of Salient (September 10).
Firstly, Rod McKinnon is not the president of the Student Teachers'Association, Victoria University, because there's no such animal. He is the president of the Student Teachers' Association, Wellington Teachers' College.
Secondly she implies that Mr McKinnon is a clean cut Student which indicates that she hasn't seen Mr McKinnon in person for he sports an (admittedly small) ginger beard.
Thirdly she implies that Mr McKinnon did not attend and disapproved of the demonstration at the opening of Parliament. This is entirely erroneous as I saw him there myself.
Fourthly she implies that in his radio broadcast Mr McKinnon showed naive gullibility while being led by the nose by the interviewer.
For those of us who know Rod McKinnon this is a ridiculous suggestion and it certainly wasn't the impression I gained from the interviewer. There is a lot one could argue with in what he said but at the same time his comments contain more than just a grain of truth. Next time Mrs Rowlands ought to do a bit more homework before rushing wildly into print.
Sir—Mr Hughes's letter in a previous Salient, headed "Kedgley found unappealing is another classic example of an individual bringing his personal animosities and his personal prejudices into an interpretation of one badly reported paragraph in a newspaper article.
His preconceptions have led him to such (erroneous) conclusions that the volunteers (chosen at random from five of Victoria University's hostels) were "camelhaired". "dressed-up", and "charity-concious".
I can assure him that the motivation behind this appeal was essentially a pragmatic response to a request by the Halls of Residence Campaign Committee that some students show their support for this appeal in the form of a student collection. (For his information the executive also expressed its unanimous support for this appeal, on behalf of the Students Association, at an executime meeting on July 4 this year.) year.]
In short, Mr Hughes has taken the opportunity to use, as a vehicle for a personal, emotional attack, a subject of which he is patently ignorant.
Certainly Mr Hughes can single me out for such an attack, but must he confuse his conception of my character with a completely objective fund-raising campaign lor university Halls of Residence.
P. O. Thomson
Sir—I have reached a point where I must finally vent the tortures of my overworked spleen. I am filled with horror at the exposure of one Mr J. Thomson by himself. I have seldom seen a more effective process of methodical damnation. My horror stems largely from the fact that Mr Thomson is not only generally ignorant, but also childish in his little petulant outbursts about the things he is most ignorant of. What hope have any publications next year with such a Whitean character for Publications Officer.
I remain, as before,
M. J. Robb.