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Spicy Sauce: Hawaiian Lava Flow

This was the first of the spicy sauces I tried from my World Traveller Hot Sauce pack.

With a kick on the edge of your tongue, this spicy sauce blends well with the surrounding flavours. It had a mild kick to it, which eventually turns into a roar. It is quite well rounded, and lacks a stabbing pain of any kind, but more of a tingle by a comb down the back of your throat.
There is a short glimpse of an after thought on your breath, but doesn’t make you regret taking a chunk out of your meal, and send you into quivers as you open up for a second bite.
On its own it has a slightly salty taste, though this is not entirely noticeable with chicken. It definitely has a ‘green’ smell of freshly cut capsicum or peppers.
This one doesn’t leave you gasping for breath and reaching for the cow teat, but has a pleasant kick that lingers long enough for you to know you’ve been hit, but not so long that you feel like you’ve swallowed a coal and an ember is left clinging to your tonsil.

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Spiced: World Travellers Hot Sauces

For my birthday this year, my brother and sister-in-law got me a rather large box of the ‘World Travellers Hot Sauces’. There are 15 hot sauces from around the world, and given my delight for anything spicy, I decided that I would write a travel guide through this range of sauces.

For each sauce I will have them with a range of different meals, but mainly include Chicken Burgers with mayonnaise and cheese, to Taco Wraps with chicken, lettuce and carrot. I will also at times mix it with a standard Peri Peri mayonnaise of a mild to medium heat as a comparison.
I will then write a description on them, as well as a ‘5 Star’ rating of heat, based on my own extensive unknowledge of the subject. This will range from ‘Barely touching tonsils’ to ‘I need a fire extinguisher for desert’.

I hope you enjoy my musings on this world tour!

You can find these sauces currently at The Warehouse in New Zealand if you wish to try them for yourself.

The PaCT Tool

There has been many thoughts around the PaCT tool and it’s use or non-use by New Zealand schools. New Zealand Educational Institute (union for primary teachers, NZEI) has warned against it, but they are bound to do so given the current political climate and their educational policies.

However, what I don’t understand is that we (teachers, schools) have been saying that National Standards are not standard and there is a vast difference from school to school as to what is Below, At, or Above since it’s inception. The PaCT tool has been designed to moderate this very problem, as NZEI point out in their article, which is surely what teachers want – to make National Standards more reliable, rather than just doing it because we have to and working with rubbish data about our students.

You cannot deny that Ms. Parata, however controversial, makes some sense in this article, and essentially makes the same points as I do above.

It would seem that they (National Standards) are not going anywhere, with the National Government in power for another three years. I don’t particularly agree with the saying “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”, but in this case, it would seem pointless fighting. Teachers, Parents, Principals,  Educators, Educationalists and Professors have been fighting them since their release in 2010. Despite this, the National Standards continued to be rolled out, and the government continues to roll out other policies in the face of adversity. Most of the initial hatred towards them was the way they were rolled out, without any duty of care shown around their trialing on our kids. But it is now almost 5 years on. Let’s also make clear, that while the opposition would scrap them, they also suggest that they would still continue to monitor student’s progress, but align them to the curriculum. This seems like a complete waste of time, money, and resources, as if you read anything on the development of the National Standards, you’ll find that they are already aligned with the curriculum.

“In doing this New Zealand has taken a different approach to the rest of the world. We have used our national curriculum to determine the standard of achievement that needs to be reached at the end of each year.” – Education Gazette, 11 October, 2010.

Despite what the scare mongers say, I think it’d be worth every school investigating signing up to use the PaCT Tool.
That’s my personal opinion.
Personally, I know some of the developers of the tool, and I have been assured on more than one occasion that from their side of things (the developers) the PaCT tool has not been designed with the capacity to link student data with teacher pay. This seems to be the main concern with the doubters beyond that of trying to make the ‘flawed’ National Standards more reliable (rather than scrapping them and developing a more robust assessment).

I think that if the government wanted to align student achievement with teacher salaries (i.e. performance pay), that they would already be able to do so without using the PaCT tool anyway. Therefore, if that’s the case, then any school using the PaCT tool will not make a difference for the government; but it has the potential to be very worthwhile for us as teachers and as a school to better get to grips with assessments for the National Standards, and might even go some way into making them more robust – which is what we’re asking for anyway.

There has been many a classroom I’ve seen, where a student has stepped out of line and done things on their own terms. For example, entering the classroom (their own terms) instead of lining up like the rest of the class (teachers terms). The teacher might scold them and then send them out to the principal, if the student hasn’t already become defiant and stormed out of the class for the scolding. When you boil down the behaviour and the problem, and take a step back; the actions taken by the ‘professional’ have in fact caused that child to no longer be in class, and no longer learning. If a quiet word was had, a little pride (on the teacher’s behalf) dropped, and the student allowed to still remain in class before everyone else, then that student might still be in class learning and hopefully engaged. The end product is what we really wanted, which is the troublesome child in the class.

Instead of fighting for fighting sake, why don’t we take a step back, work out what it is we want, and drop our pride of having things done on our (teachers) terms. Rather than missing the point and ending up with nothing, we should be thinking about the end product.

The end product is we want a robust system of measuring our children on a national level, without using a one off national test (that students could fail if they had an off day). We want to be able to use our professional judgement as teachers, and our knowledge of each child as individuals, and use that subjective information in order to fit students against our curriculum. We want it to be a robust and moderated system so that the data can be trusted from school to school, from city to city, right across the country.

If we want National Standards to be more robust, then lets see if using PaCT will in fact make them more reliable, rather than scrapping National Standards and making all line up outside before bringing them into the classroom again.

When Your Release Becomes Your Downfall

Whack. 2 runs. Ball in hand. Needed 3 to tie. All I had to do was hold onto the ball and we had won. 117 – 116.

That’s when my brain exploded and I fired the ball at the stumps, missing, causing an overthrow, and the game-tying run was taken.

I tried reasoning with the team; suggesting that the game deserved to be a draw, but I could feel the team’s downhearted heart-beat through my own chest.
I tried reasoning with myself; it’s only a game. There’s another one next week.

Suddenly, the internal talk took over, and the game that I had looked forward to all week suddenly became my latest downfall. An activity which releases the serotonin suddenly latched onto my feelings of self worth and unleashed my competitive streak. I had victory in my grasp and I let it go. I had it all sorted out and messed it up. I’d created my demise. All I had to do was hold onto the ball and do nothing and we had victory.

But as I drove home and despair had fully taken hold, it became evident that it is only a game. At the end of the day, there’s always tomorrow. At the end of the day, I still have a family who love me. At the end of the day, there are bigger and more depressing matters that this world faces. And at the end of all of the days, I know deep down in my heart that believing in the Christ that I do, that I’m always going to be on the winning team, no matter how many games I play, how many times I lose, even when I had the winning play in my hands.