Rodney Hide on the opportunity cost of compulsory te reo

Rodney Hide writes:

I would love to be able to speak te reo fluently. I would also like to play the violin, solve Einstein’s field equations and run a sub-three hour marathon.

I can’t do any of these things. It’s not that I am lazy. It’s that I am busy. I figure the reward wouldn’t justify the required effort. My priorities are where the effort is less and the reward greater.

There in a nutshell is the problem with making te reo compulsory in schools.

It would be marvellous if all our children were fluent but it would come with a cost. Students don’t now have an hour a day at school with nothing to do. That means dropping something in their curriculum to make way for te reo.

That’s where the Green and Labour MPs fall down. They don’t explain what is to be given up. Is it physical education, mathematics, science or English? Or a bit of each?

Schools and students should have flexibility as to what they teach rather than one size fits all. English, Science and Mathematics are basics which everyone needs some proficiency in to survive in the world.

The Greens at various times have said they want the following to be compulsory or near compulsory in schools:

  • Te reo
  • NZ History
  • Ecological sustainability
  • Civics
  • Human rights
  • Nutrition, basic cooking, gardening skills, and the origins and production of food

All arguably worthwhile stuff but as Rodney says every hour on one thing is an hour less for something else.

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