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Friday, October 11, 2013

A little chat online with Wendy Harmer - About Miley Cyrus & Guiding Children

Putting aside the myriad opinions of Miley’s bare bum, I’d like to support every parent who is struggling to set boundaries and have them respected. It’s a tough road, but it’s our duty and responsibility. And having a young person’s mind to guide? That’s a wonderful privilege, so we have to step up.
(Wendy Harmer)

“I’m talking from the perspective of the parents of those young fans. The whole thing is about their children’s protection. Is it appropriate for seven-year-olds to be thrusting their pelvises like pole dancers? I really don’t think so.

“Boundaries need to be put in place so that young kids aren’t barraged by market forces exploiting the ‘normalisation’ of explicit sex in under age entertainment.

(Annie Lennox)

Cheers Wendy for talking about this, and especially your own learning curve on being a 'framework maker.' The boundaries matter to me also in raising my young kids, who are already sifting through and emulating the moves of pop heroes from TV & Youtube. It's a rosy view of human nature and childhood to say that critical thinking will just 'kick in' when a kid hears moral options discussed and no judgments. Experienced people know different:
At the tender ages of 7-12, a moral decision maker is emerging but only one 
that emulates the judgment calls of respected adult people that they love. You are allowed to judge. Isn't the young woman telling you that you're being judgmental, judging you and what you're about? Of course she is. And I, like you, judge that Miley C is putting her global business strategy ahead of discernment about sexual displays and lewd behaviour. I judge that my son and his mates should not be viewing those displays - whether it's on TV or in a local park. The mass market context of those music videos does not magically adjust the moral content of it. What she's doing may be aesthetically nice, but it's lewd, and I judge so for myself and my son.

I hear dad's wisdom in my head about a need for loving but firm limits to what we'll watch, enjoy and think on 'around here'. He shows me that such things are more often 'caught' than 'taught'. 

(Al Hewetson)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How Many School Reformers Does it Take to Fix a School?

For Full article text online :


Answer to the title question: NONE.

In the real world, we should also keep in mind that not ALL teachers and not ALL students are really anxious to push. Again, motivation becomes the key.

Here here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Much-needed confession by a top govt. educator...

It seems that the proposed teacher screening before university is a mostly shallow exercise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Collected Comments Made During the Past Week Re: Teacher Quality

A society's inequality is the one statistic that does measure how well it's doing, and ours is going backwards.

I just wish politicians would stop jumping on lets fix education bandwagon to further their own careers, and talk to the experts - experienced teachers, that is!

Society as a whole in our Western culture is more obsessed with individual rights than respect for individual obligations and our young teachers are being asked to pay the price.

To ask our young and enthusiastic teachers to take on the job of modifying behaviour patterns and actually teach content is a grossly unfair imposition.It will and does end in tears.

Teaching, like some other roles, suffers from people outside the role assuming they know more than they do about what is required.

Simply ask teachers what is expected of them now, that was NEVER expected 20 or 30 years ago. We don't just teach, we raise many people's kids.
Every class I have taught has contained at least 2 or 3 children (usually boys) with significant behaviour/emotional/psychological problems that disrupt the classroom on a daily basis. Busy parents aren't coping with their kids...
Teachers cannot save the world. They are just people like you. They want to go home at the end of the day and have something left over for their families. Many don't.

Parents have been trained into expectations of entitlement by a long stream of governments at all levels and of all political complexions.

One reader on their own entry into the teaching profession:

The huge shock was that not only are many people not receptive to learning, they act like the educator is their worst enemy, and resist in sometimes the most outrageously unreasonable and aggressive ways.
I still often end the day with my heart in my shoes, wondering why on earth if students hate learning so much, they come to class, or we have to teach them. This is the dark side of the role teachers play in lifting the overall education level of society.

Can we at some time realise that disruptive kids are the bane of teachers lives and must be removed, centralised and dealt with in an entirely different fashion.

An absolute Classic- real life
drama that teachers deal with
All the time:

A colleague once rang a local big wig and asked how many times he had been told to get f***ed today at work. As he spluttered in indignation he was then told to come and get his son who, at ten, had said the same to four teachers by 9.20.

A Primary Teacher:
I might add (to the debate about teacher quality) that 'real' parental involvement in the very beginning of a child's life and throughout the formative school years is paramount.
e.g read to your child, listen to your child, talk with your child, set routines,


Jane Caro has her informed say -

Australia is the third lowest investor in public education in the OECD, and public schools enrol the vast majority of the disadvantaged.

The NSW Government has decided to try to tackle what they call "teacher quality", implying, of course, that the teachers we have now are somehow not up to the mark.

Just as you can only help children develop effectively by supporting their mothers, so you only help children learn effectively by supporting their teachers.


Excellent Comment by Robyn Ewing from Sydney University:

If a test before graduation on literacy and numeracy is instituted, it will not ensure a teacher knows how to establish real relationships with individual learners to teach them how to spell or add. Or to plan lessons that are motivating and fun, that challenge students and encourage them to take risks. Such a test will not discern whether a teacher is a lifelong learner. Or whether they are imaginative and can motivate those learners who are highly anxious or do not see any point in school. Or if they can ask challenging questions and encourage children to think creatively. Or will work well with colleagues, parents, the community and others. A test cannot measure aptitude, compassion, enthusiasm, flexibility, problem solving or dedication to teaching. A capacity to teach is something you either have in your heart or you don't. You can't legislate it into to practice.

Nice cartoon - haha

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jane Caro tells Fed Govt: Leave those Teachers Alone

Fantastic Opinion Piece on Weak Federal Reform Promises - Education/Social Commentator, Jane Caro.

Or Read it online HERE

Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone

Making it harder to enter teaching while continuing to throw graduates to the lions won't solve anything. The only way to attract the best and brightest is by making teaching desirable again, writes Jane Caro.
A young woman I know who scored over 98 in the HSC and graduated with first-class Honours from a top university is in her first year as a teacher at one of the most disadvantaged schools in New South Wales.
She arrived full of zeal, enthusiasm and commitment, and is being well-supported by her faculty. But, according to her worried mother, she is spending three nights a week curled up in the fetal position sobbing inconsolably.
Her despair is a result of the psychological and emotional warfare being waged by some of her students, who are themselves battling such levels of disadvantage and neglect that society as a whole has washed its hands of them. Somehow she is expected to succeed where everyone else has failed. Her high ATAR and impressive academic record are of little help to her right now.
No wonder one third of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Highly sought after by other employers for their training, people skills and for withstanding a baptism of fire like the one described above, they take jobs with higher pay, much better conditions, lower stress and higher status. And because people attracted to teaching are often serious-minded and committed, they do very well. This is of great benefit to their new employers, but a big loss to Australia as a whole.
Legislators are nervously aware of the major difficulties we are struggling with in our education system. Our international ranking is slipping and the troublesome "long tail" of underachievers is growing. Our bottom 10 per cent of students can be as many as six years behind our top 10 per cent by the time they finish school, which is a disaster for them, and a disaster for all of us in the long run.
We know the causes of this: an increasingly segregated education system where we not only concentrate all of our most disadvantaged kids in the same schools, thereby compounding their disadvantage, but also chronically underfund the schools they attend. Australia is the third lowest investor in public education in the OECD, and public schools enrol the vast majority of the disadvantaged.
To really starting turning our education system around we need to either change our current highly segregated system (unlikely) or fund schools properly according to need, something that the Gonski reforms are at least attempting to do. Neither solution is particularly attractive to politicians, often because of the lobbying of vested interests.
The NSW Government has decided to try to tackle what they call "teacher quality", implying, of course, that the teachers we have now are somehow not up to the mark. They want to do this by changing the ATAR required to study teaching at university. Applicants would have to have at least three subjects with ATARs over 80, of which one must be English. My young friend in the fetal position would sail through such requirements, of course.
Not to be outdone, the Federal Government have jumped on board with Minister Peter Garrett suggesting literacy and numeracy tests for teachers (great, more tests, just the joyous incentive potential educators need), pre-enrolment interviews, and nationwide practicum guidelines (it is already extremely difficult to get already overburdened teachers to take on a prac student, so more onerous guidelines, admin and forms don't fill me with confidence as a solution), among other "improvements". All of them come with more than a whiff of the purse-lipped finger-wag about them. Ironic when you consider that one of the suggestions is some sort of emotional intelligence measure. A case of physician heal thyself, perhaps?
Worse, these solutions won't really change anything and are only necessary because of a problem politicians themselves have created. By turning universities into a competitive market and allowing all sorts of educational institutions to call themselves one, they have inevitably created intense competition for students.
As with all competitions, this has worked well for the market winners - faculties like law, medicine, engineering and even communications in the prestigious universities. They have been able to raise and raise their ATARs due to an increasing demand for their courses. Bright students are - by definition - not stupid; they go for the courses that will qualify them for the best paying, highest status professions.
For the market losers, however, like the teaching, arts and humanities faculties in the less well-regarded universities, the ATARs have fallen as demand for their courses has fallen. To keep their funding, those institutions have had to find students wherever they can. Arts and humanities are no longer seen as degrees that will help you get any kind of reasonably well paid job, and the real pay, status and respect we give teachers as a profession has been falling for decades. It is hardly surprising, then, that in the competition for students, some teaching degrees are struggling.
We have also been relying on the fact that until a few decades ago, academically gifted women had few employment options other than teaching. The last of those bright women will be reaching retirement age in the next five years, so the problem is likely to get even worse.
Currently, we have both a shortage and an oversupply of teachers. This is partly about the type of school and subject, and also about location and what are called "hard to staff" schools. If you graduate as a primary, PE or art teacher in a big city, you may find it tough to find a permanent position whatever your ATAR or final mark.
If you graduate as a maths, science or technical studies teacher, you will be snapped up. If you are prepared to travel to a rural or remote area, you are also more likely to find a permanent position. And, contrary to popular belief, it is much harder to get a permanent job as a beginning teacher in a public school than a private one. The Department of Education targets the top graduates and generally employs them first.
If we really want to help our teachers, both new and experienced, to do their jobs to the best of their ability, we need to do some fairly obvious things. First, give the teachers in the toughest schools the support they need. Larger class sizes may be fine in nice middle-class schools, but in schools dealing with the really tough social and behavioural problems that generational poverty and marginalisation can cause, they will make everything worse. The really tough schools may need teachers aides, social workers and behavioural psychologists on staff to free teachers up to do their job.
We need to lower the workload on teachers, particularly for young teachers and those in tough schools, so that they can de-stress and get the support they need to survive. We certainly don't need to add to their stress with more testing or hoops to jump through.
We need to give them time to do specialist professional development and experienced mentors to coax them out of the fetal position and give them strategies to cope. (By the way, the current mentoring program is being scaled back.) Just as you can only help children develop effectively by supporting their mothers, so you only help children learn effectively by supporting their teachers.
If we simply raise the ATAR and the hurdles that must be jumped over before you can do a teaching degree, but continue to throw young teachers to the lions unsupported, all we will do is have an even higher churn. The brighter the teacher, the more choices they have, so if this is all we do, expect teacher retention problems to get even greater.
But if we support, nurture and respect our teachers, and acknowledge and reward the degree of difficulty they face in their extremely demanding jobs, we won't have to artificially fiddle about with ATARs and interviews. If we make teaching a desirable job again, the ATARs will rise all on their own.
Jane Caro is a writer, commentator, lecturer and co-author (with Chris Bonnor) of The Stupid Country; How Australia is dismantling public education (2007). 
View her full profile here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Poor texts Build Rubbish Education

You won't believe what this school textbook says about hippies

Read the article online HERE

Such Juicy Irony - Decline in Passion for Maths

... Even journo's not unaffected