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20 March 2017 |
The Dalai Lama is turning 82 this July, and he may be the last in his line. The religious and political ramifications of this are often lost on the general public. Many people in largely Christian Australia don't know the significance of a Mikveh in Judaism, can't explain why the Buddhist Middle Path is so important, or recite what the Five Pillars of Islam are. There are as many diverse interpretations of Hinduism as there are for Christianity, and as many insightful Buddhist stories as there are in the Bible.
19 December 2016 |
I have no idea how many students I've taught in two countries. I remember, usually, the high achievers and their troublesome and often troubled opposites, but most are a blur: the human memory has its limits. On the other hand I think I can name all the teachers I ever had: this, of course, is much easier to do. There was more evidence of this today. I was in the Kalamata post office, waiting my turn and clutching a fistful of cards bound for Australia, when a bearded young man asked me a question.
21 November 2016 |
I wondered why my daughter was able to get an education with a brain injury and I couldn't get one with a normal brain? So I decided to copy what we had done with her. In short, I started reading again and started patterning sentences. Do I care about Direct Instruction, or Noel Pearson and the Cape York Academy? No. I care about seeing children find the joy in learning and embracing with courage and confidence the opportunities an education can provide.
03 November 2016 |
Amid the furore surrounding Minister Birmingham's disclosure of figures showing massive discrepancies in public funding between some independent schools and low-SES schools, some facts need scrutinising. Systemic Catholic schools draw for their enrolment from lower-SES postcodes than independent schools. Postcodes being an indelible predictor of the educational chances of Australians, balancing systemic school funding against that of independent schools is politically and ethically problematic.
18 September 2016 |
Australia is now planning for an economy that has more elderly people. Death rates are declining and life expectancy is increasing. Our population should reach 36 to 40 million by 2050; the number of Australians aged 65 and over will go from 3.5 million to 9 million. In 1970 we had 29 per cent of the population under 15 and 8 per cent over 65. In 2050 we will have about 17 per cent under 15 and 23 per cent over 65. We need to plan to help the next generation care for the generation above them.
01 September 2016 |
In the golden era, I suppose, only a handful of people, selected for their potential to contribute to certain class formations, went to university. And then there was a shift, and this occurred with the supposedly democratising process of neoliberalisation. But neoliberalisation went a bit far and now we don't know how to tell our students that while they are entitled to real attention from their teachers, a lot of the time their teachers are basically volunteers for the charity called their expensive education.
28 August 2016 |
Young people flirt and explore sexuality but this should always involve trust, respect and consent. Right relationships rely on trust, and the more sensitive something is then the greater the responsibility we have to protect people's dignity. It is concerning that some young men presume to exercise power so callously. In objectifying others and treating sex as a commodity, they betray the fundamental aspects of good relationships. Young women are not sexual commodities and young men are not entitled to request and circulate these kinds of intimate images.
03 August 2016 |
While snorkelling at Ningaloo, we had an underwater lesson, in Auslan, about tropical fish and coral. On a walk to Manning Gorge on the Gibb River Road, I explained the terms 'first' and 'third-person' narrators. As we strolled past boabs, we discussed the merits and drawbacks of each perspective. Kaitlyn's written four stories on the trip so far and she recalled which point of view she chose for each story, and why. I used to criticise parents who thought their kids too precious for school. Now, I'm not so sure.
05 July 2016 |
I heard many interesting and sad and funny stories from this wonderment of nuns, this intensity of nuns, this insistence of nuns, but the story that stays with me is the nun who talked to me about the 50, count them 50, years she spent as a kindergarten teacher, in four schools, two of them quite rural, one quite urban, and one, she said, in the furthest outskirts of the city, the place where immigrants and migrants and really poor people live, the place where the bus route ends.
07 April 2016 |
The school has been supportive, but in this data driven age even the finest teachers are compelled to teach to the vile Naplan tests. Dyslexic kids are put through unbelievable stress with these tests. If deaf kids were compelled to do listening examinations, there would be an outcry. I'm not sure if there's a difference. I'm also not sure if the ever narrowing scope of education can still accommodate students like my son, despite all the talk about diversity and differentiated learning.
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