My adventures at Tamatea High School with a fishy maths teacher

It sounds funny, all these years later, but when I went to Tamatea High School my maths teacher, universally known to classes (but not to his face) as ‘Cod’, tried to teach calculus without revealing either how it worked or what it was for. Cod’s lessons were typically: ‘if you have these letters, which stand … More My adventures at Tamatea High School with a fishy maths teacher

How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world. In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively. I … More How societies get sucked into authoritarianism

Shakespeare – the amazing, fun and immortally rude bard

Years ago, my high school English teacher had a fantastic talent for rendering Shakespeare so painfully dull that we used to hang out for maths classes or death or a revolution or something. I’m not sure how he managed it, but he did. If the teacher had said: ‘Shakespeare’s stuff is filled with really, really … More Shakespeare – the amazing, fun and immortally rude bard

How Charles Darwin was bullied by his teacher Richard Owen

I recently relocated my copy of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the 1968 Pelican paperback version of the first edition, with editor’s introduction. This is the edition that sold out in 1859 on the first day of publication – all 1250 copies. Five more editions followed, all slightly different – and the book (including … More How Charles Darwin was bullied by his teacher Richard Owen