Monday, August 29, 2005

Girl power and old girl prestige

Well, there is certainly no dancing around the issue of privilege and schooling here. I'm sure Richard Teese is suitably incensed.


theory and practice?

Nothing is so practical as a good theory.

James Britton

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Who is the real donkey, Dr Nelson?

So yet again, it's been a busy week for Dr Nelson and schools. Report cards, values, funding ... phew!

Thank goodness someone in newspaper land has been watching. I feel like emailing Alan Attwood just to say 'thanks'. It seems that a little bit of digging around (in this case just reading Clayton's best selling book Gallipoli) is enough to send Dr Nelson back to school himself - lowest quartile!

The country is indeed run by C+ students (who just happened to be fortunate enough to have gone to a private or independent school with some clout).

I'm almost excited to see what happens this week.

I have a couple of school visits to make, which I'm really looking forward to (I only hope those I'm visiting will not feel too let down at having little old me turn up!) and an advocacy group meeting (VATE) which I hope is worthwhile.

Anyway ... enjoy what you do.


Just how private are these schools?

Mmm, interesting argument, check out the rest:

This isn't a question about whether private schools should receive Government funding. That debate was decades ago. While the amount of that funding is a point of real discussion, the key issue is the public's right to know how that money is being spent. As soon as private schools accept public money, they become a little less private.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

just in case ...

there is a government agency monitoring this blog (like the agencies monitoring mosques and other islamic places of gathering) I just wanted to pass on a message:

Have a nice day:) Enjoy your work:) and hug your kids when you get home tonight:)

Accept Australian values or get out - Dr Nelson that is - we don't want you anymore

Sometimes I get the feeling that I've worken up in an alternative reality. Things are so strange that I cannot believe what I read and hear.

If you have the stomach, have a read of Dr Brendan Nelson (and the Australian Liberal Government's) stance on all things Australian. Reads like an immigration policy from post-world war 2 Australia (that would be the war after Simpson and his donkey;)

I can't seriously believe what these people say. Surely they sit around thinking up more and more ridiculous things to say?


Minister warns Victoria school reports must improve

Another cynical political exercise. Dr Brendon Nelson has obviously not been in any of the schools that I am familiar with (or that most of my colleagues would be familar with). I wonder who gave this guy a doctorate? I wonder what DR Nelson's field it? Could it be in management or business?

I want to know who the parents are that are talking with Brendon. I want to know what they are on about.

Am I the only one worried about this?


Friday, August 19, 2005

Kids click, but teachers don't compute?

More interesting comment on technology and schools. I just taught a couple of workshops this afternoon on these issues - should have checked the paper beforehand!

Some arguments here are a mite better than those in the article below, but there is still a deficit view of teachers and their skills and attitudes. Oh, those bad old teachers and their out of date skills!

What about the NSW Computer Education group's 'mission' to 'show teachers not merely how to use software "but how to use it to excite kids".'

Mmm, excitement.


Loud and mobile: a bad combination?

Some quality sociological analysis of mobile phone use and society ... not. It is very easy to say silly things about mobile technologies and social practices, harder of course to say important and intersesting things.

But what can we expect from a newspaper?


Bracks, the post-ideology Labor Premier

yep. all this would be fairly clear to most watchers of education policy in Victoria and Australia (and internationally). the lines are being redrawn.


Critical learning?

It's nice to see someone (Catherine Lumby in this instance) throwing some support behind English teaching professionals. Not that Brendan Nelson would take any notice of what Lumby says. She's been in the firing line herself on many occasions.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Parents to get jargon-free reports

Jargon-free reports?

Well, another storm is brewing. You can set your watch to these. I'm trying not to get to worked up about these things anymore ... but it is difficult to remain seated when you read this kind of drivel.

Seems that some like to forget that teachers are (generally) parents too! How interesting that these labels become synonymous with distinct categories; us and them, me and you, moderate and radical, when in reality they are composed of the same people. It makes for great rhetoric, but very weak argument or sense.

Jargon is just another unfamiliar discourse, used because it helps communicative practicses and meaning making in particular fields of knowledge. To moan about the use of jargon, or to suggest that it is silly or 'academic' or an attempt to lock particular people out of a discipline, is to totally not understand the power of importance of language in framing and creating the world.

A student report without jargon?

How about a newspaper without the rhetoric and slick persuasive techniques?


Saturday, August 06, 2005

fools for offending?

I've heard it said that ...
to take offence when none was meant, makes you a fool: to take offence when offence was meant, makes you a greater fool.

That's about all I have to say about that ...

Friday, August 05, 2005

i have no idea what to do about this ...

I don't even know what to write. I feel awful, worried and amazed at at once. Humbled too. All of this is probably a good thing and so I'm trying to work out why it should be a good thing and feel not good.

I should say that I read the situation very differently. I actually thought the 'meeting' was not much of a meeting at all (in terms of formal/informal). I actually thought M was quite articulate and contributed some important comments (which is more than I can say for myself!) I could see her trying and I thought things were going well. I has initially worried that she might be put off by what she might have thought of as the 'academic' environment (she's said things about this in the past). Funny thing is that M and her passions and straight forward approach is always thoughtful and reflective (perhaps she's the academic in waiting? ;)

Perhaps I was not switched on, but I thought everyone had got on well. I mean I said some silly things, but everyone knows that is normal.

The reason I asked BD to be there was simplyto get a perspective from the ed and to use this to go away and develop something we were happy with. I mean there is some flexibility here in terms of how the piece develops, but there is also the issue of the volume as a whole and I believe it is our role as contributors to try and engage with the demands or the idea of the collection, to work with other perspectives and to ride that tension. Comments from my two colleagues prompted me to think a meeting like this might have been a good idea.

My only discomfort with the meeting was BD talking it up a bit. I thought that M might think he was a bit wanky, but only b/c of how M has spoken about academics in the past. But when she seemed to engage with some of this I figured it was alright. I was expecting a funny comment from M later on when we were alone, in jest. I really had no idea how M was feeling - and it is for that I'm sorry.

If I'm being honest (and I always try to be) I'd say this situation might be a case of misunderstanding. As much as I would agree that BD is a difficult person to get to know, I also know personally that BD deeply cares about young teachers and about people in general. BD is highly sensitive to this kind of thing (playing the academic wanker) and the negative effect it can have on teachers. But I also know that a lot of the time this 'divide' between academics and teachers is a dodgy one and does not really need to exist. Of course it certainly exists in many places, but I do not believe BD is guilty of this. In fact he is one of the few people in this place (GP and RT as well) who really understands this issue of power/knowledge and the abuses it can be put to, especially with teachers-researchers-academics.

For my part, I believe these categories are not helpful and are created by people who are interested in gate keeping and status. Theory is not the problem, university is not the problem, research is not the problem, teaching is not the problem - people and their vainity/pride are the problem. This is what creates artifical distinctions between people on the basis of 'more' or 'better' or 'newer' or 'smarter' or whatever. Good teaching and research are the same thing (or at least very closely related). Good teaching and theory have an important relationship and one that is enabling and enriching. This has certainly been my experience. It is important to think and ponder and question this work we do. It is too easy to dismiss theory as unrelated to practice and as esoteric and useless. I tend to think of this as an Andrew Bolt argument. Theory, for me, also means thought. And this is something I never want to stop doing.

Anyway, I want to say that I think M and BD are great people. The kinds of people that one wants around because they inspire, motivate and reduce one to the depths of humility. If I'm lucky enough, I'd like to know and work with these people for many years to come.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Hi-tech gizmos to lead growth?

It's been a long time. Plenty of stuff going on. Perhaps people blog more when things are quiet? Here's an interesting article about some predictions (from PWC) over the next five years in regards to media growth and consumer spending. It seems that some believe (I'm not sure on what basis) that products such as 'online gaming', wireless stuff, 'digital and online music', 'ringtones', and 'video on demand and online rental subscriptions' will be the big hits of the near future.

Of course there it is also the usual argument about the proliferation of 'amateur content' in blogs, podcasts and filmmaking.

In other news, Nat has been good enough to post most of the ink spilled over the lastest kerfuffle vis-a-vis critical literacy, teaching and postmodernism that has had a run in the Murdoch papers (most notably The Australian).

Maybe Ruppie is a little unhappy with Lockie finally standing up to daddy and deciding to live his own life? Maybe he blames all those bad teachers at all those top-notch schools he sent his son too? All that critical literacy teaching?