Category Archives: Australia

Good And Bad Of Internet

The Internet has unleashed a torrent of opportunities for young people to make contacts with others of their age as well as to encounter those who would not ordinarily have crossed their path of life. Schools in Australia are taking advantage of new technology which allows them to monitor Facebook activities of their students. James Griffin of SR7 says his company goes “where the conversations are, where young people or communities of interest are coalescing online. His company then informs schools as to what is going on.

Lila Mularczyk of New South Wales Secondary Principals’ Council says it is their policy to remove statements made by students on Facebook. “Our policy now extends the concept of the school playground to any environment in the social media platform where a student of the school or a teacher is identified by name, image or inference.”

There are bullies who wander the halls of schools. There are bullies who torment youth on Facebook. However, schools control what occurs in schools, not what transpires on the Internet. That realm belongs to local police officials. The real question is: Who determines what is appropriate as a comment and are there checks to their power to make such decisions?

Lift The Veil Or Else!

The government of Australia is concerned that some Muslim females wear a niqab which prevents others from seeing their faces. A new proposed law would make it a criminal offense if a Muslim female refused to lift the veil when requested by police. Current estimates are only about 2,000 Muslim women wear a veil in Australia. But, a few weeks ago some guy put on a veil, pretended to be a Muslim woman and robbed a store. There is no question, the nation of Australia is under attack from men posing as Muslim women and wearing veils. Who knows, maybe criminals will soon be wearing a burqa. According to the law, refusing to lift the veil can result in a fine of $6,000 and a year in jail. Of course, a few political leaders urged that provision be made for a dangerous felon wearing a veil to have access to a woman, but time is of the essence and if you allow one female driver who went five miles over the speed limit to have special privileges, what is to prevent murderers and rapists to demand the same extra time?

I wonder if we could get a law in Australia–or anywhere–which requires Hedge Fund types to lift the veil of secrecy on their manipulations or face jail time?

Are Humans Shrinking? Blame It On Muslims!

Recent studies in Australia raise the issue as to whether the human race is getting shorter. Professor Henneberg notes there are physiological limits as to the height humans can reach and the growing height witnessed over the past hundreds of years may be drawing to a close as we attain the maximum height for a human. He notes biochemical limitations of human growth and as people have become taller, it has led to problems of blood circulation and higher blood pressure. In a sense we are like the giraffe who finally attained a certain height and can not go beyond it. Add in the decline in physical exercise on the part of young children which results in less stimulation for the muscular system and those hampers gone growth.

I await a Fox News report dealing with the election of a Muslim president born in Kenya has led to the decline in height of the American people. I can see Glenn Beck drawing a diagram on how Muslims in the Middle East are shorter than those of European background so the more Muslims arriving in America the shorter we will become. Down with those Muslims! And, when I say, “down,” I am referring to their height!

REPUBLICANS DEFEND MICE RIGHTS!

Heavy rains in south Australia have created a mice epidemic. Hundreds of thousands of mice are scurrying through farms consuming everything in sight. Some farmers are witnessing their pigs being assaulted by the mice which forces them to soak pigs in oil in order to create a nasty taste. The assault by mice on animals has created a problem for Republicans. Mice have rights. Mice have a right to live. Mice have a right to eat. After all, once government steps in to regulate what mice can eat, it deprives them of their free enterprise rights to become fat and wealthy. If Wall Street hedge managers can feast off the flesh of their clients, does this mean mice can feast off the flesh of pigs? Then again, one could classify the actions of Wall Street money gougers as sort of sneaky or is it they are the pigs in this saga of eating and consuming.

It is a fundamental belief of all free enterprise Republicans that each individual has a right to consume whatever he gets his hands–or mouth on– which means mice have rights in the land of Republicans. If we take away mice rights to eat pigs, does this mean we take away the rights of hedge fund managers to make a pig of themselves in their ravenous consumption of the wealth of Americans?

Flash News! Mitt Romney has made clear he defends the rights of mice to eat pigs in Massachusetts, but this does not mean what is good in Massachusetts is also good for the entire United States of America.

It’s Gay To Deny Gay Rights

The government of Australia provides financial support to many churches including assistance in areas such as the adoption of children, but these groups also get a waiver of accepting the principle of gay rights. For example, churches are provided opportunities to develop employment services and other social assistance programs, but in so doing they are not bound by laws that protect the rights of gays and lesbians. It is one thing to allow a church to decide if a person can become a priest, it is another thing if the church receives government funding for adoption of children and then refuses to allow a gay couple to adopt a child. A church has the right to decide its policies on internal factors such as membership or leadership, but if it solicits money from the government, it is necessary to accept societal requirements dealing with the rights of individuals.

Of course, there is something strange about churches seeking help from the government. Why not simply utter a few extra prayers to God. Of course, that assumes God agrees with the idea He came upon the Earth only for straight folk.

Bonus Payments To Teachers-Good Idea?

The Australian government has decided to utilize a bonus system that rewards “excellent teachers.” This is the same philosophy that is supported by US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. After all, who can be against rewarding “excellent teachers?” I have taught for 55 years and during that time worked with over 12,000 teachers. I have also taught about 3,000 students at the secondary level. I have written textbooks for teachers and have served as a Dean of Education. What do I know about “excellent teachers?” Of course, one could pose the same question to anyone reading these words.

Any process of determining who is an “excellent teacher” must begin by posing several questions?
What is being taught?
What are the goals of the teacher?
Can these goals be measured at this point in time?
How do I measure what is being taught?
WHO does the measuring?

There are teachers who go through the curriculum and test what was taught. Statistically, 90% of all questions posed students from Kindergarten to Graduate school are RECALL of information that was taught. Less than ten percent of what happens in a classroom entails critical or creative thinking. It is extremely rare to be able to evaluate critical or creative teaching. Since principals are doing the observations of teachers this raises the question as to their qualifications to evaluate critical and creative thinking. How many principals, as teachers, taught in this manner?

A student teacher once posed a question to me in September. “How do you teach differently in May from September?” Wow, what a great question. In other words, if someone observed me in September they witnessed a teacher who was quite different from the teacher in May. By May, I emphasized more strongly critical and creative thinking on the part of my students. A high school student in my first period class once asked if she could come to my 7th period class due to a doctor appointment. As she left the room, she was shaking her head. I asked, why? She responded: ‘you are a completely different teacher at 2:30 p.m. from 9:00 a.m.” Of course, I am. Isn’t an actress different for the Wednesday Matinee audience than she is on opening night?

Few who seek bonus payments for “outstanding teachers” were “outstanding teachers?” themselves. Few grasp the long term goals of an “outstanding teacher.” I can measure how many cars you sold today, but I cannot measure how many students you impacted to become critical thinkers. Teaching is a long term process that does not readily lend itself to immediate success.

We argue for a focus on creating a curriculum which fosters critical and creative thinking. We argue for empowering teachers to assume more responsibility for deciding on what and how to teach. We argue for creating a TEAM of teachers rather than continuing the individual handling teaching and never discussing it with peers.

War On Teachers Leads To Stress

There is a war going on in many parts of western civilization and the enemy is the Teacher. Cuts in education expenditures result in more students within a classroom including a projected 60 in Detroit class sizes. A recent study in New South Wales in Australia, has produced evidence of growing stress among teachers including hundreds now applying for psychiatric assistance. Historically, students always dealt with problems students brought to school from their homes, but these days as unemployment rises, students are bringing in stress from frightened parents and changes in family ways of life. Teachers are compelled to meet “standards” imposed by bureaucrats who regard the purpose of being educated as the ability to feed back what was taught. Teachers are being fired by the thousands, not due to inept teaching but stemming from inept political leaders.

Thousands of dedicated young teachers will work their butts off only to be fired due to lack of money. Politicians are increasingly in charge of what is considered to be the goals of education, and to them it must be numbers.

Are Aussies Bigots?

My image of the ordinary Australian is a sun-tanned person who loves water and football and enjoys shouting at sport events. A report by the Australian Human Rights Commission offers a rather different version of life in the sun baked country. During the past half century, Australia has opened its doors to people of various cultures, religions and ethnic cultures. According to the report, although 64% of people in the country identify with the Christian religion, Bhuddhism is now the second largest religious belief and a large percent of people are secularist in thinking. There is a strong anti-Muslim feeling, most probably generated by women wearing the niqab in public and wild talk about Sharia law apparently has inflamed many Australians who now fear Muslims are going to take over the entire continent. “There is a current anti-Muslim discourse that suggests an entrenched hostility often related to overseas events.”

There are also at least 30,000 Australians who regard themselves as pagans and the Pagan Awareness Network, claims it has “faced an uphill battle in its attempt to be included in interfaith initiatives.”

Has anyone considered a pagan-Islam coalition which would end rule of the Christians?

Japan Confronts Aftermath Of Disaster

There is little one can add to the story of what has happened to the people of Japan. The media depicts the horror of a tsunami and its effects in dramatic visual images while reporters tell tales of fear, disaster and a world suddenly gone mad as people scramble to survive. Each day, figures rise as to the number of dead from the initial one thousand estimate to figures reaching over ten thousand or even twenty thousand. Meanwhile, two nuclear plants are leaking radiation and fears grow of an atomic explosion. It would be ironic if an atomic blast rocked Japan, the only nation in the world to have the experience of a nuclear devastation –aside from one incident in Russia twenty years ago. Meanwhile life goes on and stories emerge of those hoarding supplies of food and water and other necessities. It has been too long since the people of Japan, as a society, confronted disaster and now emotions of life in a capitalist society emerge. Fear, greed, me, are emotions now all too common.

Eventually, the people of Japan will have worked their way through these troubled times. Eventually, they will decide whether or not to continue an atomic energy power policy. In the meantime, bodies emerge from the wreckage. In the meantime, each person must confront his or her obligation to society.

A Torturing Story From Egypt

There is overwhelming evidence the American government under leadership of George Bush sent prisoners to Egypt and other nations which practice torture as a means of securing evidence. Australian born Mamdouh Habib was tortured in Egypt despite the fact officials from the Australian government attended some of these sessions. An Egyptian intelligence officer who was present names people like current Egyptian leader, Omar Suleiman as being at some of the sessions since he was head of the Interior Ministry. Egyptian guards routinely filmed these sessions and according to one description, Habib, “was naked of any cloth even his underwear. He was hysterical and almost crazy drugged.” He claims that Habib was tortured several times since they wanted a quick confession. After the Egyptian episode, Habib was sent to Guantanamo prison and finally released in 2005. Naturally, he was let go without any criminal charges being leveled against him which led to his lawsuit against the government of Australia for being complicit in violations of his rights.

The Australian government denies having any knowledge of this torture of one of their citizens, but did pay him money on condition that he not reveal what happened. The real tragedy is failure on the part of the Obama administration to have an impartial commission investigate the entire Iraq invasion and the treatment of prisoners. Shame on Barack Obama for failure to provide Americans with the truth.