Napier student Anela Pritchard has been stood down by her school for a speech criticising her school. She has received both support and criticism in the media and on Facebook.

Here’s a response from John Cowan, creative producer of The Parenting Place:

“If you say anything with anger – even if you are saying the right things – people do not hear your words, they just feel your heat and react against it. Most teachers, students and parents would readily concede that much of Anela’s frustration is justified but the whole message is distorted because of her abusive tone. Speaking that way may get cheering from the sidelines, but it seldom evokes anything positive from the target of the communication.

Anela’s teacher and her school would have been insulted, not by Anela’s disaffection with school, but by her personalised attack on teachers. The thing is: she is an adolescent and this is what teenagers do. They feel strongly and they react strongly. When adolescent passion translates straight in to passionate action, the results are often not as good as they intended. Adults who deal with teenagers – parents and teachers – have a responsibility to help kids take those strong feelings and handle them in positive, productive ways. With a bit of coaching, Anela would be an even more eloquent advocate of education, able to deliver messages where people take notice and not just offence. Back up, Anela, and have another go at it. Step up, Mr Pritchard and Napier Girls, and equip her top class mind with the skills to create more than just a train wreck.”


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