Kindred Spirits

Today I read an article entitled How to Break Up with your PhD by Lara Skelly and couldn’t resist posting a reply:

Hi Lara. So affirming to read your words. Thank you! I am currently in my final year (I hope) and am so pleased to read your article. Like you, I already have a career which I will return to and my doctorate sprang from my work not the other way round. Even my supervisors have asked me where I want to go next. I will be returning to the position I had before which was held open for me. However, nothing much will change, least of all my salary. I am often asked, especially by family, why I am doing this. It’s because, like you, I love to study, to write, to check in to the spa-like pleasure of an academic retreat. And I have more than a passing interest in my topic, which I have been experimenting with in my career for several years. My doctorate is just making my results and findings official. Like you, I have been concerned about feeling let down when I complete in a few months time. What will I do with all that extra time? It is really helpful to read your article. All the best for your next steps. Anne

Dr Deborah M. Netolicky commented on my response.

“Anne my PhD totally felt spa-like and retreat-like to me, too. And I wrote a blog post about how to make your PhD seem like a holiday 🙂 It’s nice not to be the only one!

Thank you, Deb.

Such a great quote from Baudelaire in Deborah’s blog and name.  Love it, Deborah! I am now a follower.

the édu flâneuse

“For the perfect flâneur, for the passionate observer, it’s an immense pleasure to take up residence in multiplicity, in whatever is seething, moving, evanescent and infinite: you’re not at home, but you feel at home everywhere, you’re at the centre of everything yet you remain hidden from everybody.” Baudelaire

Time to Write Again

Brain Stretching

It’s been almost two months since I ‘put pen to paper’ and recorded what I have been thinking.

It’s because over that period I have been brain stretching. I have been teaching myself how to use IBM SPSS (thank goodness for Youtube!) and conducting various referential stats investigations.

After being offered help from a private contractor, a lecturer and a fellow student, none worked due to their misunderstanding my work and my location so I was on my own.

All for the best. What a learning curve! More a steep learning slope than a curve, I’d say!

So now I have climbed the heady heights of a first draft quantitative chapter. Such a sense of achievement. I now understand standard deviations, levels of significance and effect sizes, Levene’s tests for homogeneity of variance, t-tests and Mann-Whitney U tests.

For this long time linguist who hasn’t studied maths since 1967, I think that’s not too shabby.

No Longer an Ostrich


It was not a conscious decision but a fuzzy avoidance in hope that it might not need to happen. Unfortunately, my side-stepping of inferential statistics has been outed by my supervisors.  They have unceremoniously yanked my head out of the sand I had snuggled it comfortably into.

So, now this unmathematical linguist must face means, standard deviations,  and significant differences with conscientious and meticulous enthisiasm.  Yay!

Analysing Data and Writing It Up


Such a slow, laborious, process, analysing data and writing it up. I am bored yet concerned that I will never find anything worth saying.  And if I am bored, how about those who have to read this stuff?

But then through the cold misty haze shoots one small pinprick of light, then another, and another.  Each not enough to guide the wise men to the stable but enough to make a small, pretty formation in the night sky.


“Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter – late May or early June. For many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki literally means the ‘eyes of god’ (mata ariki) or ‘little eyes’ (mata riki).”

Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand


ANZAC Reflections


25th April 2016                                                          25th April 2015




Today in Tairua we have commemorated New Zealand’s involvement and losses in WWI. There was a dawn service at the local cemetery and a civil service at the community centre after a procession of service people through the main street of town.

Today I especially remember the Somme, where my maternal grandfather, William Frederic King, who, fighting with the Irish Riflery Brigade, became one of the 40,000 men wounded on the first day of battle, who returned to the battlefield too soon after, and who lived his life as an invalid suffering from the damage that mustard gas did to his respiratory system.

I recall the trip I took last year with three other teachers and forty-two students to visit significant places in the north of France as part of a WWI commemoration project between my school in New Zealand and one in France. In the image above our students are led by our Maori teacher and sing the national anthem and the school song at the New Zealand Memorial in Caterpillar Valley. It was a very moving moment.

As usual, Maori Television makes us proud every ANZAC day. I thoroughly enjoyed the hour long programme presented by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and one of her protégés, Kawiti Waetford, as they retraced the story of his tupuna, Henare Kohere, who died at the Somme and was buried far from his family and homeland. As they visited some of the same places we visited last year, it was a moment to reflect on the privilege of living in freedom in Aotearoa New Zealand but also the privilege of being a teacher and the opportunities that the profession offers.

Thank you, Grandad.  Thank you Henare Kohere.  Thank you Epsom Girls.



Plodding Boredom


I love to write.

I also love to plan for and teach secondary school age students.

However, the core duties of that job can be divided  into three stages:

planning, teaching, and marking.

It’s that last step that irks me.

I actively dislike marking.

I would rather do grounds duty than grade papers.  I know colleagues who have left the job and do relief teaching rather than grade papers.  It’s the tedium and boredom but also the responsibility of it.

So here I am released from the classroom with time to write my thesis.  A wonderful privilege. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and writing my first four chapters over the past three months.

Now the time has come for me to plough through hundreds – literally – of papers that are being graded from every angle in order to provide data for my thesis.  And I am bored witless.  It is such hard work.

And it’s ironic.  I began studying to allay the boredom of decades of teaching.  Now my studies are full time and I am faced with the very boredoms that brought about the original decision to study.

Can’t wait for this grading and findings stage to be over.

Easter Procession in Tairua

Easter BrusselsEaster NZ 2

Easter in Belgium and in New Zealand

This morning we joined with our community in Tairua (1400 permanent residents) to walk from the Community Centre across the footbridge beside the harbour along past the cafés and shops to the Church of St Francis following a parishioner bearing a large wooden cross. It was a moving experience with singing and prayer at each end and a traditional service in the little wooden Anglican church afterwards.

It made me think of the very different European processions through cobbled streets  dressed in traditional clothing and bearing a local legend-steeped statue at Easter. Our Tairua equivalent felt very rustic by comparison. Nonetheless meaningful. In fact very beautiful in the calm after the stormy weather of the last few days.

That led me to thinking about and looking for images of processions in Europe to illustrate this post because for sure there won’t be any of the Tairua one!  And that led me to images of this current Easter in Brussels, images that depict the recent terrorist attacks and the ones at this time last year in Paris. It’s a good time to remember people in those cities who are suffering this Holy Friday. Nous prions pour vous.

Je suis Bruxelles. Je suis Charlie. Dieu vous bénisse ce Pâques!

29th February – Popping the Question


I can’t let a month go by without a blog post and today, a date that only comes around once every four years, seems a good day to take the leap.  After all, I can’t miss out again…  Due to overbearing cloudy skies, I didn’t get to experience the early morning, once in ten years alignment of the five planets, so this auspicious event, Leap Day, 2016, will have to do.

So what is the question I want to pop on this day when women are allowed to pop the question?  Pop is a word that implies fizz, champagne, celebration, so it needs to be a positive question.  I will therefore avoid  questions about Donald Trump and what Americans are thinking, or about my failure to buy a house in Auckland to capitalise on sizeable resale profits, or about inconsiderate neighbours whose drunken noise still continues at 1pm on Monday mornings and whose dog poops regularly on our lawn.

Instead I will ask about the wonderful luck of being born in New Zealand, this beautiful island nation, surrounded by oceans, steeped in modern-day peace and prosperity, where the birds sing at dawn, where even the poor are rich by world standards, and where crowd funding allows ordinary citizens to band together to buy a beach.  Yes, we bought a beach!  I haven’t felt so excited about anything since eight years ago when I danced around our Seattle lounge with my grandson because Obama became President.

In the late 1980s, I had the wonderful privilege of tramping the coastal walk in the Abel Tasman National Park and wading across the Awaroa inlet at low tide with four other teachers and thirty fourteen year olds on an end of year Wider Living Week excursion. We were exhausted after carrying our tents and food on our backs for four days but in awe of the beauty that surrounded us we straggled across that magnificent bay.  So when two ordinary unsophisticated Christchurch blokes saw that the up-till-then privately owned stretch of sand was up for sale, they put in place a plan to ensure continued access to foreshore and seabed, a right that New Zealanders prize alongside being clean and green and anti-nuclear.  In just three weeks, their project captured the imagination of this tiny South Pacific nation and, with a little help from the Joyce Fisher Foundation and the Conservation Minister, Maggie Barry, we won the auction.

Even if I never get to wade across that remote stretch of paradise again, it was wonderfully exciting being one of the 39,249 kiwis who took the leap, gave their mites and purchased this nearly three million dollar patch in paradise.  And to crown it all, it was out from underneath the noses of powerful international corporates.  Power to the poeple!  Ka pai, Ngati Aotearoa!!!



Goal: Thesis Completed by November 2016

After the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, with family over at Christmas, Tairua-Pauanui firework at New Year, walks and fish and chip picnics at the beach after warmer than warm days, and lots of board games during subtropical summer downpours, it’s now time to get down to work.

At the end of 2015, I checked out ten texts from the University of Auckland library, which need to be returned by February 10th. That means reading and taking notes on two per week between now and then. That’s the goal, anyway. Then in February, when I would normally be meeting my students for the new school year, I will revisit the data analysis begun last year.

An exciting thought. Sleep till wake instead of 5am alarm. Commute ten steps to study instead of ten minute drive to classroom. Quiet to think instead of colleagues’ chatter. However, no bells to keep me on task, an easy track to fridge and beach, and husband’s company to enjoy.

Need for strategies. Chill till 9.00. Eight hour day punctuated with: fifteen minutes’ work in garden, dash to letterbox, texts to family members, lunch on deck,  beach stride to stimulate thought. Time Management by Google calendar log. An honest day’s work set aside at 6.00.

Goal: A thesis written and submitted by November.

  • January: reading catchup
  • February, March, April, May: Data analysis and writing
  • June, July, August: First draft finalised and submitted to supervisors for feedback
  • September: Three months notification of submission
  • September, October, November: Second and final draft written and submitted, and examination date set.

I am very much looking forward to the privilege and also the responsibility of my twelve months study leave award.

It’s been a while…

School Gate

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post, since I finished the #23Things courses; they helped keep the momentum going.

Busyness really does sap creativity.  There has been the preparation for a pending conference presentation, the final weeks of seniors at school before external exams, prize givings and good-byes to seniors, an absent colleague whose lessons had to be sorted, preparation for junior exams, birthday celebrations, and now marking and reporting of juniors’ work.  Busy, busy, busy.  And so much still to do, especially on my research and presentation.

Yet some things are worth taking time out for.  Today the Old Girls who began secondary school together fifty years ago last January are getting together to go on a tour of the old school, to sing the old school song, and to enjoy each other’s company over a light lunch.

For me, personally, it is particularly poignant because it celebrates coming full circle; five years ago I began teaching in the school I attended fifty years ago.

So here’s to a great day with old school acquaintances over a cup of tea. Yes, it has been a while.