This is the most horrifying thing I have seen in the media so far, this year in the context of all that is happening with education & the military


The Manawatu standard shows us Whakarongo School students proudly holding their military assault rifles….

Hang on, I spoke too soon.  Hekia Parata’s disturbingly named ‘Future Risk Index’ has been announced a day after I wrote the following.  This is equally as disturbing, and for exactly the same reason.

Parata says, by the way, that data-identified students will have their identity ‘protected’ but from whom?  They will secretly be identified in certain ways that will not be divulged, and what about the effect of those data findings  further into the future?  The horrible suggestion is that under our current government there is a system in place that operates with this secret eugenics based re-designing of school facilities, they’re just doing it without the data.   

This means the ministry of education is exacting eugenics based procedure in the education system without telling us. To do this knowingly and openly is the act of a totalitarian state, because in any other kind of state the people would not allow it.  So they are doing it secretly, and sharing their intention to install a secret ‘Future Risk Index’ is rather an indictment on what they are doing right now.

There is a wave of militarization that has been breaking over us for some time, but horrifyingly events seem to be pointing that way at a quickening pace.  

Bill English annexed four and a half billion dollars for technology and announced it at a conference in 2012 I think, describing his government as an “Inside-Out Government”.  The following year I went and did a dip-grad in education to try to get a look at what that meant for education.

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What it meant is that the education hub Core was leading the way in promoting the SNUPping or standardizing of all schools’ intranet systems. That is to say they were subsidizing the installation of ultra fast broadband copper, to pave the way for e-learning in schools. The benefits were touted as the common access to quality education as provided across the board using the best of what internet learning has to offer.

It also means data collection and data analysis from children who are being encouraged to use devices in class, from primary and in some cases as early as kindergarten.  

At my local school, the year 5 and six class, for the first time has compulsory BYOD use in the classroom.  

My son is presently reading a series that he likes that someone else (not the school) has provided him about a 14-year-old who is also a spy for the MI6.  In this way, the school facilitates a further distancing between my child’s parents’ parenting.  And between either of us and him. Luckily, I have brought him up thus far with his entire repertoire of literature and have been able to influence him accordingly to become a critical and autonomous thinker.  

This is not to be writing about my child so much as to portray the unexpected consequences of taking BYOD into classrooms.  In this case, we are separated parents with a very different outlook on the military. I introduce him on a natural gradient to be able to understand and negotiate his way around matters of moral dilemma or to negotiate big issues in life as they arise.  

The device distances him and also gives an autonomy that neither of his parents are in agreement about.  

I have more to say on tech in schools, the good the bad and the very ugly potential pitfalls of it, let’s just say broach the channels of ethical dilemma that are still taboo for the mainstream.  And I will come back to this, but my major concerns are in the implications of arbitrary management of data to suit a particular purpose or prejudice…   where was it that Key said, to paraphrase, “we manipulate data to suit our purpose”?

And also most unnervingly the way our schools are placed in a rainbow of affluence and how this informs the emergent amalgams of technology and its effect on the schools.  It’s certainly not always the case that less wealthy schools will have less technology, because it’s the new wave, and schools (and their boards) are not wanting to miss out. The investment in technology is similar but the investment in applying technology and the teaching around it is not.  i.e. investing in teachers.  

To assimilate tech learning into schools requires careful planning and wealthy schools are able to try out various forms of this, and manage tech as a ratio to non-tech activities in the classroom, and to employ teachers who are implementing schooling around the use of tech, meaning interdisciplinary thinking, tech as an inroad to becoming auteur when presenting work on geography for example.  Tech for interacting with other students, and for building new thinking that comes back into the classroom.  

Other schools are operating on a 1:1 basis (One student to one computer for all their work) and trying out models of rotating teachers around the same learning hubs.  The implications are sinister for the learning outcomes for young people in less affluent classrooms.  The learning I predict is more likely to be content based, and to stem directly from hubs like Core, and Telco Tech Services, Theresa Gattung’s new outfit, replacing quality teaching with regurgitative information.  And where is this content coming from?  Who is creating it?  Without any quality control, concepts of religious education, racist anthropology, anti-immigration, eugenics, scientific evidence around global warming, – I know for a fact are all issues that will be skimmed over in a dull tech contained environment of linear retained learning.  Because it’s assumed there is no outside monitoring likely by parents of lower socio-economic students, and certainly no easy grounds for comparison with the rest of the class, I predict those students will be left easy prey to be cordoned away from the same goals and aspirations as their richer neighbouring schools.

Whereas some school libraries are already operating as learning hubs, others are developing major shifts towards making learning spaces that look at least in the diagrams I have seen from CORE, like corporate rec’ rooms, where the students are tapped in to their devices and headphones and able to sit and roam, and dangle upside down while they work if they like.  

It makes a great picture, but the emphasis for schools in the lower socio economic bracket is cost cutting, and letting the online content speak for itself.  

There is no equivalent spread of concern for the learning outcomes and the social adaptation of students who are sadly going to be more often left to their own devices than have teachers and other students influencing their creative inquiry into why how and where they should be learning to use tech.  And there are more issues such as addiction, and radioactivity, the sedentary tendency of tech learning, and the anti-social aspect, and the list goes on.  

Combine this with data collection, (and that means banks and banks of assessment data that staff can approach as a vast interface and use to interpret in a number of different ways), and you start to see the patterns emerge for the future schooling of dystopian fiction coming to bear in our foreseeable future, should it be exposed to a new ethical code that differs from the one we are juggling right now.  The general public and parents won’t easily be able to access let alone assess the data so they won’t know if they disagree with it.  But I can tell you now a lot of it will not reliably address the evidence that will be claimed.   Linking lateness for example with a jail term for a relative, does not have a bearing on that child’s ability to become the prime minister should they be given equal opportunity.  

Last year the announcement was made that there would be a large financial investment by the government, this time in the military.  

What are we seeing from the military as a result?

 Do you remember who said to John Key who was smiling like a schoolboy at the time, “We don’t have to ask”? The American military, didn’t have to bother asking Key if New Zealand would support them.

It would not surprise me if there are some people thinking that it would be a good time to stage a benevolent presence of the military in schools around New Zealand right now, to ease public perception up a little.  And some might think, like the writer of the Manawatu article has said, rural kids are aware of gun use and their families might not find it so strange.  But these are not rural guns.  These really are not.  You might aim it the same way as you point a .22 at a pepsi can but the army are here in your school chatting and relating to the kids. The army.  They weren’t there last week.  They weren’t there last year, or the year before that.  

Well it has chilled me to the bone to see this happen today.  Behind the façade there is a disgusting parallel to be made here.  

While we are witnessing the death of millions in Syria and millions more around the world, and the images of dying children are being bandied about and while we are alarmed and indignant and looking for some answers, here is a picture of the army putting military grade assault rifles into the hands of our children.

We don’t do this.  We don’t militarize our children.  We don’t do it slowly.  We don’t do it fast.  Not casually, not formally.  Certainly, not without changing the ethical social templates by which we have operated to date.

The attacks on civilians around the world are horrifying.  It is not going to help anyone’s future to pass it off as collateral damage.  Certainly, citizens are killed in wartime, and that has always happened, but what is horrifying is the climate ambivalence in the public milieu.  

That ambivalence should be countered by education and inquiry-led learning and critical thinking.   

While we haven’t even got our act together to manage how our children learn to think, as they are deluged by the business led model of implemented technology, it is not appropriate to then allow the military to play friendly soldiers to the public by way of our children.  Because the unexpected results are going to be dehumanizing with a human face.  



  1. Disgusting? I agree – mags out and fingers off triggers, kids! Good to see you’re at low ready though.

    “We don’t do this. We don’t militarize our children. We don’t do it slowly. We don’t do it fast. Not casually, not formally. Certainly, not without changing the ethical social templates by which we have operated to date.”

    My grandfather taught me how to safely handle a weapon long before I ever got to shoot one. Can’t wait to pass the knowledge on to my little girl once she’s about the age of those kids in the photo. I wasn’t militarised by learning early in life about guns. On the contrary, it took the glamour out of it from the beginning. But, should life ever bring it our way, I know what to do. And not being in a country where that seems likely makes us the exception, not the rule.

    A teched-up childhood is the opposite of the one spent in the woods with an air rifle, that’s all I’ve got to say. Sometime there were war games, more times just practicing the hunting skills my elders had. Better than being in front of a screen. Those kids are just human veal calves when world instability catches up with us.

    Ok sarcastic bit because I had to, and it wouldn’t be me without it:

    “Luckily, I have brought him up thus far with his entire repertoire of literature and have been able to influence him accordingly to become a critical and autonomous thinker. ”

    Yup, I said the same thing when I threw away Billy Bob’s science textbook and gave him a bible. It’s by absorbing *my* beliefs that he’ll become and autonomous critical thinker, not by reading things I didn’t personally sanction!

    • They must be giving them away. I couldn’t guess they fell off the back of a truck and thought come on kids, lets take dick pics.

      If pryer planning prevents future fuck ups then I dear say the future fuck ups must be enormous

  2. My initial reaction to this is that new zealand is a AAA rated small country so we can buy stuff and then once we’ve thrashed it, on sell it. You’d be surprised how much you can low ball buyers this in negotiations. This is in large part why no one wants one trick ponies any more so we get things like the F-35 but the F-35 example is that it paves the way for other technology development.

    Another point is that it’s election year so the moment a date is set for the elections, that puts a freeze on all acquisitions until after elections.

    Commercial and military suppliers wont make a fortune out of New Zealand but they will leave the door open, this notion has to be considered when ignoring the SLR debacle that created a couple mass shootings.

    NZDF decision are always based on capability and force requirements so there recommendations will always be include force multiplyers. Then its up to the government pollsters to them them if they are right or not. So some where, deep inside the behive. There is a white board from 6 months ago with this capability requirement written on it.

    And thats shocking given New Zealand’s past history we seem to have learnt nothing from.

    • It looks like the current government have locked us pretty solidly into a bunch of upcoming purchases. At least they’ve got small arms and basic kit up to date now. Shame they’ve gone for frigates again though, probably about time we got destroyers given how much we’ll pay already.

      • It’s all a con. Like with most of his spending john car keys brought forward spending and dolled out tax cuts so there are no guarantees NZDF will actual get what they ordered until it is placed in there hot sweaty hands.

        I would agree that spending on opperational outputs have been improved buy purchasing seats in humves and other mil spec vehicals in for troops in iraq how ever the 20 billion figure people say will be spent on NZDF over the next thirty years, a chunk of that is supposed to come from savings like the inshore patrol vessel sell od and im not even sure we’ve sold all three yet. Still waiting for the Waioru sale. So again, no guarentess given.

        And the ANZAC systems upgrade is shaping up to be a blow out in the same light as nova pay.

        Im still of the opinion that two 6000 ton frigates and five 3000 ton off shore patrol vessels is enough for what ever New Zealand wants to achieve in the next 20-40 years. That would give the RNZN an escort capability through out asia and be able to deploy an off shore patrol vessel to the north and south, all year round, where currently the number of patrol days are constantly being revised down.

        • Yeah naval system procurements seem to be a guaranteed fuckup in NZ no matter who buys them. Can it really be so hard to buy a decent fucking ship or two?

          God help us if National get a fourth term, we’ll probably end up with a fucking Zumwalt. Still, there are plenty of tugboats in NZ, so at least the crews will have steady employment.

          • You know the aussie FFGs will be retired soon. With 41 VLS and ESSM and the fire control is larger than the ANZACS. It probably comes with aiges or atleast C4ISR. As far as I’m aware there is still 2 FFG still active in the RAN. Considering we will be spending a billion dollars (and thats low balling) on the RNZN future frigate programe you could offer our aussie cousins 100 million for two ships, and either parties would be crazy not to accept an offer like this.

            Aussie gets an allie with instance interoperability so the ANZAC fleet will be 23 surface combatants and we a ship that’s gone through constant upgrades. If you compare the the Adelaide FFG to the ANZAC over its life time we’ve spent 2 billion buying em and upgrading just 2 ships and thats low balling. Aussie spent about 2 billion maintaining 6 far superior ships in that time.

            This is an obvious deal NZDF and tresuary would be mad not to look at.

  3. 1. I learned to use a gun when I was a kid too. Not at school.
    2. for clarity, my son reads widely which I have enabled because he was an early reader, but a responsible parent is going to censor what their child reads on or off the net. The school system would like to take control of that for you.

    • If these kids actually new the history behind the styre, they wouldn’t be smilling like that so meh.

      Austre had to reengineer the grips because the trigger action weakens the grips so we had to over engineer the grips to take the the vibrations and prevent things like the sights falling off. Why the fuck you would give this systems to kids to play with I have no idea.

      Any conection between weapons handling and learning is widley overstated

  4. I wonder how many of these children’s parents have fought overseas the glorification of war is abhorrent.

  5. I disagree.

    War sucks, but kids are curious things by default. Far better that they get shown how a gun works safely than by playing around with one when no one is looking and kill someone.

    Since the police don’t exactly come around to schools and do that as far as I am aware, good on the army for doing so.

  6. “This is the most horrifying thing I have seen in the media so far, this year in the context of all that is happening with education & the military”

    Serious question: do you live in a cave?

  7. Now that I have read the stuff article, far from being enriched I litterally feel dumber for reading it. Just total wtf mode. What happened to high ropes and water safty. New Zealand really is looking screwy

  8. I think some folk may be missing the point here.

    This is a subtle militarisation of the young minds of a new generation. Just by looking at the faces of the young people above – smiling and happy – they are linking that happiness/fun to holding a lethal weapon in their hands that has one sole purpose: to take the life of another human being.

    Of course, kids play with toy guns; water pistols, cap-guns; sucker-dart guns, etc.

    But what they are holding – and showing enjoyment of – are real guns.

    Were they told the purpose of those weapons?

    Were they told how bullets from those weapons will injure, maim, kill another human being?

    Were they told of the thousands of their parents, grandparents and great grandparents who were killed when other people used similar weapons to snuff out their lives in the second or two it takes for a bullet to leave a muzzle and shatter the body of a New Zealand soldier?

    Or the thousands of lives we took in the fields in Europe, North Africa, Asia, and elsewhere – and now we’re best friends or trading partners with those same nations we once vilified and made war on?

    I’m repeatedly told that our Anzac Day Services are a commemoration of those who went overseas and never returned. I’m repeatedly told it’s not a glorification of war or military service.

    (I hold reservations to those repeated assertions, by the way.)

    But here we have kids holding weapons that, when used as intended by the manufacturer, will most likely snuff out another life.

    And the look of happiness on the faces of those young people indicates they have no understanding of this. None whatsoever.

    These are not toys. They are not air rifles for shooting at inanimate objects to test hand-eye co-ordination. They are lethal weapons with one object in mind.

    To put them in the hands of impressionable young folk; to treat it all as a “fun thing”, is chilling and disturbing.

    I am reminded of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eightyfour , where a cadre of children called “The Young Spies” were encouraged to play a deadly role to preserve the power of the State – including betraying their parents – without realising the manipulation they were subject to.

    As usual, Orwell had one eye on his typewriter and one eye on the future.

    • A lot of kids live in families where there are licenced gun owners. If those owners are abiding by the rules their guns will be locked in one cabinet and the ammunition, sights, magazine and so forth will be locked somewhere else. Sooner or later, those children will get to an age where in an attempt to foster interest in something else, they will probably be shown the guns. That is where their curiosity will spike as they pick up one for the first time, shown how to load, aim and fire.

      If they do that under the strict supervision of the licence holder who also talks to them about why guns need to be under lock and key, and enables them to satisfy their curiosity in a controlled way, this is a good thing.

      But not all kids are that lucky. Not all children or even many adults will have grown up around firearms. I was born to a Dad who goes duck shooting every season, goes rabbit shooting. Dad is a strict follower of the arms code – I could not hand him a gun with out showing that there no ammunition in the chamber; the magazine had to have already been taken out and so forth.

      Not all kids who do have parents who hold a licence are going to be lucky enough that their parents are responsible gun users, who do all the things I described above. If they get shown by the army or the police how to hand guns safely, I have three words and three words only:


    • “I think some folk may be missing the point here.

      This is a subtle militarisation of the young minds of a new generation. Just by looking at the faces of the young people above – smiling and happy – they are linking that happiness/fun to holding a lethal weapon in their hands that has one sole purpose: to take the life of another human being.”

      I agree, that is the REAL worry here.

  9. Authoritarian rulers and their backers know, you must get them while they are young, in their very formative years, and once you have stamped your ideology onto them, they will be ‘yours’ for the rest of their lives.

    Hence the advertising industry is also keen on targeting commercial ads particularly at young children.

    Watch McDonald’s and so, they all do it, and thus people become almost addicted to buy and use certain products.

  10. Three remote communities, all connected by the same weapons, and the same authority.

    ….,a small settlement in New Zealand’s North Island, was shattered by the invasion of scores of armed police intent on flushing out members of an alleged terrorist network who, it is claimed, had been staging military style training camps in remote areas of the region.

    We will not be seeing armed police descending on the remote community of Whakarongo, intent on flushing out members of an alleged terrorist network who, it is claimed, are staging military style training of children, (no less!)

    Just as we will never see the NZ army staging photos of the Maori children of Ruatoki holding steyer fully automatic weapons.

    These children’s memories of these types of weapons will be completely different.

    …All traffic approaching the roadblocks was stopped, vehicles were searched and the occupants questioned, often at gunpoint. Among the vehicles stopped was a bus carrying school children. While police spokepersons have denied it, the driver of the bus reports that the bus was boarded and searched by police carrying rifles.

    I wonder if the glaringly white children in the above photo would be smiling so gaily if their experience of these weapons was their being pointed at them, or at their parents. Maybe that would be a better lesson for these children of the meaning and purpose of these weapons, than their cradling of them. But there would be in an uproar and we would not tolerate it.

    And there is still the un-answered allegations of the murder of the little girl in the remote village of Khak Khuday Dad in Tigran valley, Afghanistan.

  11. Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son
    And where have you been, my darling young one
    I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
    I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
    I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
    I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
    I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
    And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
    It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

    Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
    And what did you see, my darling young one
    I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
    I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
    I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
    I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
    I saw a white ladder all covered with water
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
    I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
    And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
    It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

  12. How about you set up a partnership school then that teaches the kids in the way you think they should be taught.

    • Because my friend Mr Gosman, the government chooses who sets up a Charter School and if you think that they would allow a school set up to teach socialist ideals, then you’re batshit crazy. Now, any other questions? Good. Go back to watching Sesame Street or Playskool.

  13. The kids are probably smiling because they got out of boring lessons. The education system could learn a lot from the Defence Forces about inspiring young people.

  14. “This is a subtle militarisation of the young minds of a new generation. Just by looking at the faces of the young people above – smiling and happy – they are linking that happiness/fun to holding a lethal weapon in their hands that has one sole purpose: to take the life of another human being.””

    Whatever you do, then – don’t give the kid/s the keys to the car. I mean, well, some eight year old took the family wheels and his four year old kid sister down to Maccas. Wonder where he learned THAT?! Playing with an extremely lethal weapon.

    Other little tykes are driving their drunk parents home and they can barely see under the rim of the steering wheel.

    All this grief and angst. Does it extend as far as the little kids stripping down their AK47s somewhere in the warm parts of Africa? Bet they never learned that in school. Couldn’t, really. They were born into war and subsistence. Or kids in Afghanistan getting their weapons because they’re grown up enough to use them?

    Would you rather have your treasure taking inappropriate photos of female teachers and posting to Instagram? The good old gender wars, eh? Sweet good fun.

    Get it. The moment you turn on telly and let it babysit the kids they are being infected with all the values you don’t admire. Or those double entendre Disney princess pieces. All products of that fine upstanding peace-loving benevolent home of pink guns for little girls – the USA. Viewer discretion is required.

    Then they grow up and the battle to think, to come past the old family mindset, begins. You may or may not win. There are no guarantees.

    Sam and Cemetery: thank you for sense. A pleasure to read.

  15. Perhaps most people have missed a point here: This is a recruitment drive to get the next generation to sign up in around 10 years time.

  16. Have we reached the bottom of the barrel yet as a country? Probably. But our media doesn’t give us the best of the best or should that read worst of the worst? What else aren’t the media telling us? When our kids get accustomed to what takes a life then they can go on to the real thing and not even flinch.

  17. Hi, thanks everyone for your comments.
    I went to some trouble to actually complete a degree in education and to investigate what is happening with the development of education progammes in synch with technology and our political stance at home and on the world stage.

    I see that most people’s responses here are to the image, and the original article about weapons.

    To elicit these responses you could simply read the initial article and look at the image.

    But I have written this article to address the parallel between the issue around that image and the issue around data interpretation in schools and the potential for misuse of that in the future, or right now in fact.

    I’d appreciate it if you’d read my whole piece and respond to that, or maybe some comments are best suited to the stuff. website.

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