When I was a kid, the primary school I went to had a special way of dealing with people who suffered from cognitive issues. The method was simple. If a kid had a cognitive issue, the teacher would relentlessly bash at them. They’d usually begin by demanding the kid explain why they couldn’t get letters … More The burden of having cognitive issues
These days, it seems, some people only read headlines before reacting. I suppose it always happened, but social media means the response is right there for everybody to see. Sometimes they get entirely the wrong end of the stick. A while back I published a piece on the early 1950s sex scandal at the Elbe … More It’s annoying when people comment without reading the substance
As a rule these days, I don’t engage with local enthusiasts who style themselves ‘historians’. It sounds harsh, but my experience of being attacked – out of the blue – by strangers with an interest in the field has been so consistent I’m reluctant to respond. Let me reveal a few experiences of my work, … More Hard lessons in the unprovoked malice of strangers
A story caught my eye a while back about a university student who’d just graduated, despite being written off at school as worthless and ridiculed by university lecturers for misspelling. It turned out the student had dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, which sounds like a nightmare combination. In fact, all are manifestations of one basic issue: … More Why dyslexics get written off by teachers
A while back a downtown Auckland tower-block was evacuated after the occupants fell ill with what was first thought to be gas from the air conditioning. It wasn’t. But a dozen people were hospitalised. That evening, more people fell ill and the building was closed. Before a formal investigation reported on the problem, a university … More Why the term ‘it’s psychological’ doesn’t cut it as a real medical diagnosis
I was reminded the other day of a wonderful 1948 story I read as a kid, ‘In Hiding’, by Wilmar Shiras (1908-1990). I read it in a 1960s-era anthology of sci-fi stories, and it left a huge impression on me. Shiras wrote it, apparently, for her children. And the plot was straight forward: a school … More What makes people smart?
There was a headline the other week on the Fairfax news site ‘Stuff’ about a southern New Zealand high school that was forbidding children to wear warm headgear – beanies – despite temperatures dropping into the negatives. Based on the report it appeared to me to be simple power assertion. Beanies weren’t in the uniform, … More When power assertion is disguised by the rules…