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The English teacher's drink of choice

17 April 2017 | Frank O'Shea

Hip flaskPaddy was a mediocre teacher, even if that is the unreliable opinion of a colleague who has great sympathy for what must go on in an English class. He had a weakness not uncommon among the literati and which may well have been a reaction to the rigid pieties of his Tory background. In his case, the consumption of alcohol caused him to become tiresomely scrupulous, seeming to lose the capacity for dissimulation and verbal artifice that are necessary qualities for life in the modern world.

Catholic schools can't neglect LGBTI students

05 April 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Rainbow flagRecently Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the rainbow pride flag, died. The flag was designed to be a symbol for the LGBTIQ movement, representing the diversity of the community. Within the same news cycle, it was reported that Catholic Notre Dame University in Sydney had had pride flag stickers torn down from its student association office. Schools' main concern should be the welfare of students, but that is difficult when they have an arm tied behind their backs in regards to LGBTIQ students.

Towards a more inclusive religious curriculum

20 March 2017 | Sophie Chalmers

Children of different faiths sharing. Illustration by Chris JohnstonThe 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.

Christmas encounter with an unremembered student

19 December 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Kalamata post officeI 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.

Mainstream mindset fails remote Aboriginal students

21 November 2016 | Dennis McIntosh

Aurukun schoolI 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.

Jostling for justice on school funding's contested ground

03 November 2016 | Michael Furtado

Kincoppal-Rose Bay in SydneyAmid 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.

Social justice in an ageing society

18 September 2016 | Peter Hosking

A Place at the TableAustralia 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.

Students are not the monsters in our universities

01 September 2016 | Ellena Savage

Young women studyingIn 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.

Teaching boys to respect girls

28 August 2016 | Peter Hosking

Adolescent boy and girl share headphonesYoung 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.

Homeschooling on the road

03 August 2016 | Sarah Klenbort

Little girl exploring the outbackWhile 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.

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