Day five: books for John Key ' The Mixed up Chameleon'

Fifth day of Christmas - The mixed up chameleonIn the spirit of Christmas the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) is continuing its commitment to help John Key with his holiday reading and has carefully selected themes he can use to reflect on the past year and the year to come.

Prime Minister John Key has a lot to learn from the character in The Mixed-Up Chameleon says PPTA junior vice-president Doug Clark.

Dear Prime Minister - New Zealanders identify with quality public education for all; we should not mimic the USA

Dear Prime Minister

As promised, we are gifting another book to you, this time for the fifth day of Christmas.

To give you a well-deserved break from the weighty tomes you have doubtless been wading through, this week we are sending you the delightful children's author Eric Carle's The Mixed-Up Chameleon.
I hope you don't feel patronised by having a picture book included in our offerings, and you shouldn't.  Indeed another of Carle's works, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the book George W. Bush would regularly share with young students on his school visits, and even, apocryphally, on that fateful morning of September the 11th 2001.  Perhaps you could take this one along next time you visit a primary school, and see what lessons the children take from it.

The lesson that I take from this book is to be oneself and not try to blindly mimic what others do.  The chameleon copies the characteristics of lions, polar bears, giraffes and so on…..… until he is so mixed up he cannot even feed himself.

John, I am worried that you are acting like a chameleon with an identity crisis.  Unfortunately it is not just you that will be mixed up at the end of it, but New Zealand students, parents and teachers too.

Charter schools are one of a plethora of innovations from the USA that we have no need to blindly mimic.  In the education sector there are some that I am afraid to even suggest, such as using multi-choice tests to assess learning or taking funding away from schools where students are not doing well instead of supporting them to get better, but looking more broadly, are we also going to introduce the right to bear arms or the death penalty?

New Zealand is small and green and often goes unnoticed, a bit like the protagonist of this story.  Unfortunately when we make silly mistakes and try to copy others without thinking through the consequences, we can't just wish ourselves back to how we were.

I will be sending book six on Thursday.

Yours sincerely
Robin Duff

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