Tuesday, September 19, 2006

boring and past it or young and silly?

When does one know that you're 'boring' or 'past it' (or both)? Is this a realisation one should come to oneself or something we each need to be pushed towards? Is it 'unprofessional' or discourteous to use these words generally about a group of people, or in reference to people specifically? Are professional relationships most effectively based on honesty and critical openess or something else? Is is possible to completely divorce professional practice from personal attritubes? Is blog crap talk the same as in-the-light-of-day-reasoned talk? Whose opinion really matters when we're talking about education, schooling, young people and ... well, adults?

Now in the teaching game, things can get interesting when words such as boring and past it come up. I have been called 'boring' many times by many people, sometimes with certain cause. Not sure it's damaged me though. I still carry on being boring old me. In some peeps eyes I've been 'past it' for some time. The very fact I just used the word 'peeps' will testify of this fact to those younger and hipper than I. I am a noob, a nerdburger, perhaps even a noobasaures rex ...

But do I care? We'll maybe a bit, but not really. Why? Well because I'm not boring of course! And I'm not past it, not by a long shot lol

Am I silly? Well, now that is another question altogether. There are plenty of people who think so. I know becauase they've told me so. I can accept this (I think).

I spoke to someone on the phone today who was upset (this may be an understatment) that I had used the words 'boring' and 'past it' in relation to some work of theirs. At the time I made the comment (on a blog of a colleague) I didn't have this person in mind, or any of those involved in particular, and I was speaking more generally and to my colleague. I was responding to some pretty raw stuff they had said. I felt I needed to show I understood where they were coming from, because I feel like I do understand where they are coming from. I'm not trying to equivocate here, but I'm not in the game of delibrately offending people - that is the last thing that was on my mind.

However, I was trying to make a point, and that point was and still is important and I stand by it. It was a wider point about the importance of critically reflective practice. There are two angles here: one is that I was trying to push my colleague to think about their role in the problem and what they might contribute to 'making a difference' (thanks RC) rather than moaning about it; the other was about the importance of organisations taking a similar critical approach about the work that they do, not being too wrapped up in their own concerns and too precious, not being too self-congratulatory about their work and willing to accept the hard questions and DIFFERENT views about 'sacred' and time honoured things. I believe this is where good organisational culture stems from, and not from believing that everything is peachy or even that the job is being done half-decently.

I'm happy to take the heat on something like this, because I see the problem as part mine. But it's not all mine. I'm willing to shoulder my share of the responsibility and to grow a thick skin while doing it, and I hope that others can do the same (and know that many do).

I know that I'm talking in generalities and that can be confusing and frustrating, and I'm sure this post will bring upon me more claims of silliness, or of 'he's just young and rude' etc etc. But this too is a position that deserves some interrogration. Professional relationships break down under tired (ie boring and past it) generational exclusionary tactics that position younger people as less experienced and their (rude and inconsiderate) views as less important.

It's funny how the words 'boring' or 'past it' might be subbed for others like 'young' and 'upstart' and 'lacking experience'. The outcome can be similar.

I can be all of these in one day.

Now that is talent

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Good times not for all time

Ahh, Colebatch. Reason in the midst of unashamed stupidity. This is the kind of political, social and economic analysis that we need much much more of. Instead we get news about Anna Nicole Smith's son passing on (I'm sorry for her loss of course, but ... )

There are a few peeps I would like to pass this on to, but I doubt they'd read it.
Had we invested this money to expand our industries, that would make sense. Instead, we spent most of it to expand our houses and house prices. This is patently unsustainable, yet there is no sign of it ending. The Howard Government fuelled the house price boom to win votes, creating the world's most generous tax breaks for rental investors. Now its solution is to create an even bigger tax break for superannuation.

No country grew rich from dodging taxes. Our federal and state governments should have been securing us a sustainable future, above all by using our taxes to invest in schooling and skilling young Australians. They should have used our taxes to develop exports and manufactures, so Australia could pay its way in the world instead of relying on debt.

Short-term policies mean the good times won't last. One day, oppositions will have their chance.
Shame really.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Elite schools' fees surge despite subsidy

What a surprise ...

It's important to keep the public thinking that they are paying more because it's a better service. If the fees are lower and private schooling is available to more and more people, what's the benefit for the few? A simple twist on supply and demand; economics 102; create a perceived need for your own product by running your competitor's product down, while at the same time keeping yours scarce by keepin the price high and linking it to good old fashioned class based cultural capital. More than anything else private schools trade on the public assumption that they have something that other schools (read: public schools) don't. Why else would people try and buy whatever elusive quality it is that private schools market?

When everyone went and bought an ipod, they were just normal, and no one cared anymore.

These pearls of wisdom from Minister Julie Bishop ...
The Federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop, said the Federal Government did not set or limit fees for private schools.

Parents should choose schools that were affordable and best met the educational needs of their children, she said.

"Non-government schools are independent organisations, and their governing bodies are responsible for setting fees," she said. "Parents should raise any concerns about fees with the relevant school.""Parents should choose schools that were affordable and best met the educational needs of their children, she said."
Ah, that's the answer. Just CHOOSE where you want to go. Just CHOOSE what type of school best suits the 'educational needs' of your children. Apparently, Minister Bishop will pay for it.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Why learning is child's play

Report from Jim Gee's involvement in the Curriculum Corporation's conference in Adelaide. Jim was in Melbourne a few weeks back where he gave a very interesting talk building on the ideas that Jason Hill reports on in this article.

If you haven't read Jim's book, I'd highly recommend it.

Gee, James. Paul. (2003) What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

If I were more organised I'd post the recording I made of his Melbourne talk. That might have to wait.

If you are really interested, I also recommend another Gee offering - more recent.

Gee, James. Paul. (2004) Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. London: Routledge.

This one is more comprehensive and connects Gee's ideas on games into an overall theory of learning and a critique of schooling.


Teachers know money isn't everything

Ross Gittins on performance pay and the economic rationalisation of education


Saturday, September 02, 2006

How Lucy's email became an inbox hit

interestingn email stuff. PhD student comments on email shaming etc