Not Really The Kiwi Way

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
So there's been a bit of fuss lately over this story.

Two high-school lads, from a private school in Christchurch took a ride on a baggage carousel at one of our busy airports, while in transit on a school trip.

It was against the rules. Actually, it was a serious breach of national security. 
If you've been to an airport lately you will have seen and be familiar with the signs warning against riding the baggage carousel.

But you know what boys are like. 
I know what they're like. I have two, and I went on an international school trip last year with several teenagers from our school.
Before we left my teenage son had to sign all kinds of agreements, and as well as signing the agreements the teachers verbally warned them that if they broke the rules they would be on the next flight home. Heck, we the parents had to sign stuff too.
We read it. We heard it. We agreed to it. We signed it.

It sounds like St. Bede's School, where these two carousel-riding-boys attended, also had such rules in place. Schools have to do that now. What other way do they have of controlling their students, especially when they are in a group away from home and they have the safety of children to consider?

I don't think the boys did anything necessarily bad in jumping on the carousel. They're just kids, looking for a laugh. But kids do tend to be thoughtless when they're in the moment. If they'd jumped off before passing through to the secure area this might not have ever made the headlines. But they didn't. They breached security and rode past the ribbons into a secure airport area.
The school pulled them from their rowing regatta as punishment.
The parents didn't like that. After all, any sports regatta or tournament is expensive, and a lot of time and effort goes into training. I get that. It would also have let the whole entire team down.

So the parents took it to the court and got a judge to overturn it.

And so the New Zealand public has been hotly debating this for the past few days, and the majority seems to agree with the school.

These are my thoughts on the matter.

At first I was sympathetic. They're just boys. One of our boys on our trip last year did this in the airplane. It was silly, and we frowned and tut-tutted appropriately (while smiling into the corner), but it's just boy-stuff, you know, not worthy of being sent home. 

Then I read more into this carousel matter, and I do believe now that the school are rightly justified in taking the action they did.

What if this had happened to two boys from a public school? Maybe they'd be from families less well-off than these private-school families. They would have been sent home, and they would have had to take their punishment and had to live with the consequences of their foolish actions.

This matter smacks of elitism. It screams arrogance.

Mummy and Daddy have the dosh, so let's go running off to court. We won't let our sons learn the natural law of consequence. We won't teach them, by backing the school authorities that sometimes if you break the rules you don't and shouldn't get away with it.
Yes, the rest of the team would have been let down, but that is what being part of a team is all about. You work for the good of everyone. You keep the rules, because you're part of a team.
Sport, at it's foundation, teaches character. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. It's part of life.

This was a selfish, thoughtless, foolish act by kids, and the parents are supporting their children in their selfishness. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, by the responses of the parents, that the children flouted the rules. Perhaps this precedent had already been set at home.
We won't teach them personal responsibility. We'll throw our money into a lawyer and we'll show them! We are important people because we have money. Money that can help us get our own way.

Whatever the parents say, in justifying their actions, this is the message that the rest of New Zealand is getting. If you have money, you can over-ride the rules.

It's elitist and it's arrogant.

It is very un-kiwi. It is not our way. It should not be our way.

What would you have done, if your son had been part of this?


Amy at love made my home said...

I don't know anything of this story, or the background so I have no basis on which to comment. However, if the law is broken in any way, and if the law says no riding on baggage carousels then that is the law and it has to be abided by. No matter what. Also, I have to say that I now hate travelling by plane because of all of the security issues at airports, which are made worse by incidents such as this. So I say that they should be punished because it causes so many difficulties for the rest of us in these very high security times! xx

Sammy said...

Agree! And one of the boys parents was chairman of the rowers club!
What sort of example does this set for young men and women? If you don't like the consequences of your actions, well, just go to court and try to get the consequence annulled or turned over.
Personal responsibility seems to be last on the list of any character trait taught nowadays...

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