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  • Writer's picturePeter O'Connor

It'd be funny if it wasn't so scary

Set in 12 month’s time, in a large primary school in Auckland, formerly and very recently known by many as Tamaki Makaurau.

Tumuaki: Good morning, Cheryl. I’m sorry to interrupt your teaching. Every millisecond counts. And is counted.

Cheryl: Kia ora.

Principal: Please, you should know by now that it’s government policy to not use Māori words with Europeans like me. Words like these, that people don’t understand, can easily confuse them.

Cheryl: I’d say sorry, but I know that we don’t have to feel guilty for anything anymore.

Principal: There are a few things I need to chat to you about, what with the Ministry of Regulation about to do an inspection, then followed up with a visit from the Ministry of Anti-woke. I just want to make sure you give the right answers if any of them ask you anything. They said they’d be interviewing all teaching staff.

Cheryl: If it’s about talking about gender and relationships with the children the other day, I’m really sorry. I am working at sticking to teaching the basics brilliantly. Really, I do nothing of relevance with the children at all.

Principal: That’s exactly the thing to say!

Cheryl: It’s just every now and again the real world encroaches into the classroom, and I try to help. Some of these kids are doing it tough and…

Principal: Really, please for the visits just remember the days of thinking about anyone’s wellbeing are well and truly over. Kindness and all that is so last Jacinda. Remember what school is all about again.

Cheryl: NCEA results? PISA rankings?

Principal: And making competitive entrepreneurs. Which reminds me, our surveillance reveals you only tested your class fifteen times last week. How on earth do you think they can improve if you’re not measuring them and telling them they’re failing. They can’t survive in the market if you treat them like they are kids.

Cheryl: I do ignore the fact most of them are hungry and I blame them and their parents if they don’t achieve like standard kids do. That fits with the policies, doesn’t it?

Principal: Perfect. Now, can I just check? Are you using the Ministry stop watches to make sure that its exactly one hour a day reading, writing and mathing?

Cheryl: Nodding

Principal: Good. And the cell phone detectors the Ministry sent us? The government are very fussy on us following the rules. We aren’t a charter school where you can do whatever you like.

Cheryl: I thought you just had to sign something at the end of the year saying we’d done these things. I mean, no one takes it seriously do they, no one imagines that will make any difference?

Principal: Well, if our international rankings don’t rise, they’ll rightfully assign responsibility to teachers again, so I think we need to look as if we are doing as we’re told.

Cheryl: Rightfully assigning responsibility is such a nicer way of saying teacher bashing. Thank goodness the government are finding the right words for the things they do.

Principal: Actually, the scary thing is the anti-woke ministry coming in. They really do take themselves seriously. I just wanted to check on whether you are vaccinated against contagious diseases?

Cheryl: It was a while ago, so I can argue there is waning immunity?

Principal: Sounds like you’ve been following science though. Nothing endorsed by the UN or WHO, I hope.

Cheryl: Well, um…

Principal: Have you visited our reopened smoking and new vaping areas. The Minister of Tobacco Sponsorship has endorsed them. He said that they’re positively good for you. Obviously, we shouldn’t believe the anti-smoking conspiracy theorists from medical universities. He’d know. It is all about individual choice, remember, time for caring is over.

Cheryl: I haven’t taken up smoking again to help with the tax cuts to give dignity to landlords, but I have stopped my te reo classes, and I have enrolled in the NZ Imperative classes on New Zealand History. I’m planning to teach their lessons on Great NZ businessmen. It’s not a long unit of work but I am interested in the Ministry of Racing’s new curriculum. The only Critical Race Theory in their lessons is about how important it is to be a kiwi horse winning the Melbourne Cup.

Principal: Good, and don’t forget to say it is so refreshing to have schools free of ideology with this government. It’s great to have the old days back, isn’t it?

Cheryl: Oh, yes its all so wonderfully politically neutral. Is it true, the Minister of Outer Space is visiting?

PrincipaL: Yes. That is so very exciting. It’s just like Trump’s space force without as many rockets. I must see if we can find an old science lesson lying around or something? Might be near those old lessons we threw away that had the arts, social sciences and things that made kids interested in the world. I think I put them in the pile to pull out again in 2026.

Cheryl: Is she really an astronaut?

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