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School CP - November 2001

masthead Daily News, Taranaki, 26 November 2001

Attitudes, youth discipline biggest changes for teacher

By Leighton Keith

"I'M NOT one of these limp-wristed, dewy-eyed sandal-wearers and I know that a good whack across the bum would work today."

Not that Waitara High School deputy principal Peter Savage will have the chance to put his theories about corporal punishment into practice any more -- he will retire at the end of the year.

Mr Savage has instilled respect -- and sometimes a little fear -- into the students of Waitara High for more than three decades, and has held the position of deputy principal since 1976.

"There is a place for corporal punishment, but it can be over-used and then it becomes as ineffective as not having it at all," he said.

When he returned home from England he had the choice of teaching at New Plymouth Boys' High School, Inglewood High School or Waitara.

"Well, I went to Boys' High, so I didn't want to go there, and it rained too bloody much in Inglewood, so that left me with Waitara High," he said.

Youth attitudes and the lack of discipline are among the biggest changes Mr Savage has noted over his years in teaching.

"Waitara has produced a large number of talented sports people over the years, but that requires commitment and discipline," said Mr Savage, who has fond memories from his days as rugby coach at the school.

"There has been a considerable change in young people's commitment to sport.

"They do not have the discipline to train, so they will never get anywhere, and that's a shame," he said.

"The quality of the clay we mould has changed. A lot of youngsters are not house-broken. "That's not just in this area, but throughout New Zealand.

"It's due, I suppose, to all the things that they say about socio-economic conditions, solo parent families.

"There's so many 16-year-olds having babies. At that age, what knowledge base do the parents have to pass on?"

Mr Savage hopes to keep his hand in during retirement by doing some relief teaching to finance his other interests, such as travelling.

* LEIGHTON KEITH is a Witt journalism student.

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Colin Farrell 2002
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