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...and this is my story...

Cross posted from;

I want to tell you a story, a very personal story, a story from my heart…

I grew up in a rural setting, in a loving family, with a teacher mother, and could have been the classic education success story, but I wasn’t…


At the age of 5 on day one at school, the senior’s taught me how to do a forward roll, which I proudly performed on the mat as the afternoon began.  To this day I remember my mortification as the teacher said ‘show off on your birthday, show off all year round.’  A little part of me withered and died.  I remember trying to read and write like the other learners, but the letters were just black lines… and they didn’t make any sense to me, so I quickly learnt to memorise what the others said… I remember always wanting to question, but knowing that questions were not for me to ask.  Questions came from the teacher and getting the right answer was important.  I remember deciding that it was better not to answer than the shame of getting it wrong.  Another little part of me withered and died.


I dreamt of how it could be.


I lived for the breaks when I could be outside and play and socialise.  There is a lot of gray in my memories from 6 – 8 but life in the senior room has a lot of dark and black.  Reading around in a circle became a daily terror, and my fear heightened my errors and my errors led to laughter and shame.


I am acutely aware of the power of the memory to hold on to the highlights and the lowlights, and all the in between can become a blur.


My highlight came in year 8, with the arriving of Mr V.  Mr V let us learn by doing.  He let us create a recipe book from all our family recipes.  He let us use the banda machine to copy the book.  He let us assemble and staple the book and sell the book as a camp fundraiser.  He let us take photos on his camera and develop the photos in the newly created school dark room.  He let us dream and believe and what’s more, he let us achieve.  I have vivid memories of euphoric feelings of learning.  I developed a hunger for learning, a quest for knowledge, an insatiable curiosity about the world outside my little village.  And most of all, I learnt to read.  I read my first book – Lorna Doone at the age of twelve.  I experienced the feeling of journey into the arena that exists within the words on the page. I escaped to another world.  And I never stopped reading and wondering and questioning.

Forever I am indebted to Mr V for giving us freedom, giving us choice, giving us power and in a way, for giving us a key to the world of hands-on, active, self-driven learning.


High school was a dream for me.  I had flicked the learning switch and I escaped to France through my French lessons.  So vivid were my experiences during my three years of French with Mr P, that I was overcome with emotion when I later visited France, travelled up the Champs Elyse, visited the Eiffel Tower and felt the pulse of the French people and language.


Leaving school I was determined to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher.  I had such a strongly held belief that if I could become a teacher I could make a difference.  The first time around at College of Education, I experienced a posting with a teacher that returned me to the gray land… the land of fear, and control, and right answers, and darkness.


I just wasn’t ready for this.  I escaped to another chapter in my life; a chapter that I will devote a separate blog post to.


Fast forward 18 years and the pull was so strong that I returned to the Dunedin College of Education, graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Education – Teaching.

So strong was my passion for education and desire for learning that I completed my Master of Educational Leadership in 2010, and have continued to study e-learning papers out of University of Tasmania.


Alongside my MAGICAL ten years of teaching, five as a Deputy Principal,  I have celebrated a year-long NAPP journey and a CORE education e-fellowship.

Now out of the class, I am deeply committed to my facilitation role – Learning with Digital Technologies Facilitator.  (or facilitator of happiness as my mother calls it.)

The highs and lows of my learning journey are significant.  

What is it that makes this journey powerful?  

What is it that aligns with learners today?

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Comment by Lorraine Makutu on April 12, 2016 at 17:01
Wow! Your journey has been so incredible, Anne. I agree with Hazel in terms of the sense of resilience and the obvious passion you have for learning which you emit so well. You have a lot of similarities with how I have always felt at school with my own learning. You rose to those occasions and overcame challenges. I put my pathway down to my passion for learning, my gift of giving and the shear belief that I too wanted to make a difference. Such an inspiring journey.
Comment by Anne Kenneally on April 6, 2016 at 15:41

Wow Hazel,

Thanks so much for reading and commenting.  You have triggered so many wonderings and reflections, that I am now working on a follow up post.  I will use these questions from you as triggers in the post.  

I am intrigued that you use the word resilience as I have spent a life time working on this... 

I love the whakatauki you have shared and wonder if you would please add it to the growing crowd sourced doc - Whakatauki?

Thanks again... off to write some more in my follow up post... And trying to pull the comments together across the areas this post has been shared...

Anne K

Comment by Hazel Owen on April 5, 2016 at 0:55

What a powerful, raw, and open experience, Anne. It feels as though every time you withered and died a little...every time fear and bleakness threatened to engulf instead grasped opportunities as they arose. It takes huge energy to keep getting up and turning it all around again and again. What kept you going do you feel? What kept you curious and asking questions?

You ask what makes your journey powerful. For me, it is the combination of your resilience; as well as the teachers who really made a difference for you. I felt your joy and sense of worth in every creative thing you did, of every word you read, and every step you took through France (metaphorical and literal).

It reminds me of a whakatauki:

Ke whati te tī, ka wana te tī, ka rito te tī

When the cabbage tree is broken it sprouts and throws up shoots

This year I was clearing some grass away from a cabbage tree I thought was long dead. As a cut the grass I noticed a bright green shoot among the grass - a little bit bent and needing light and nurturing - but there it was; against the odds, a cabbage tree rising from the dust. 

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