Archive for April, 2009

138538879_ca03534347_mCheck out this blogger debate on Mamamia about refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

Journalist Mia Freedman writes an interesting blog about fashion, beauty, celebrities and……refugees. Well, sort of. She is a regular on a morning TV show, and the topic of refugees came up. She is very passionate about it. Judging by the comments posted to her blog, so are her readers! Some comments got me so riled, I just had to post one myself – under my alias, Helen!

It’s heartening to see some sensible comments supporting refugees and asylum seekers, but man, have we got a long way to go!

The ugly Australian at its best! Tragic.

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Just stumbled across a great link on the BBC News website. A story about teaching of the  aboriginal  language Dharug to indigenous students in Sydney. It was all but wiped out after the Europeans came/invaded in 1788.

As one indigeous student so aptly puts it, learning Dharug is about identity and pride. A timely reminder about the power of language – who has the power, and who it includes or excludes.

The page is dedicated to many stories and links, all to do with Aboriginal Australia. There’s also our own ABC Indigenous link. Quite similar.

2447596105_1e0dde3e6c_mI was moved when reading the story about Frank, one of the Stolen Generation. Basically, indigenous children (10 000 reported cases) were forcibly removed from their families – a policy which didn’t stop until the late 1960’s. Why? To

Breed out their colour……to civilise them.

But wait. There’s more. Try these chilling statistics.

  • life expectancy of 59 for males and 65 for females (17 years less than non-indigenous)
  • death rate for Indigenous Australians 2.8 greater than non-Indigenous Australians
  • unemployment rate 3 times higher for Indigenous Australians
  • incarceration rate 13 times higher

10106555_d6677f5416_mSo as a nation we have apologised. But we still have a long way to go. That’s why National Day of Healing (Sorry Day) on May 26th 2009 is important. There are many ways  we can all get involved in commemorating the removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Check out this Sorry Day page for more ideas.

I urge all teachers to get their students involved.

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A poet, a writer…

img_4463Interesting to hear well-known Australian author David Malouf has doubts about his writing. So do I, everytime I write a post!

I heard him speak to a group in Newtown last night. Very illuminating!

He spoke about always hoping to make connections with people through his writing. Bit like blogging. He went on to talk about the communities that are created through these connections with people (and so we were, last night!!). Bit like the web!

He even made sense when he said that most of his writing occurs when he is not writing! When he is walking, shopping, ironing (he loves the effect it has on  his “stream of consciousness”…..), he composes, creates and re-thinks. Lotta thinking involved in writing. As for editing and proofreading? A good reader, needs to do that, preferably not the writer. The writer cannot see with objectivity what may need changing. Someone representative of the audience can. Perhaps.

299060326_1545b6f0bc_mSo what does this mean for the way we teach writing? For the learning conditions that suppport this process? Food for thought….so fair warning to the teachers I will be working with this term. I may be inflicting a few new ideas on you about the teaching of writing!!! (No, I won’t be asking you to do your ironing in the classroom….)

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Straight from the Miscellaneous department…..some lovely city photo blogs I have recently found.


Sydney Eye by Julie who adds interesting  photos of Sydney to her blog daily.

3391449790_7f911be646New York Portraits – same thing – with the focus on New York. This blog has many, many links to other photo blogs from around the world. Great fun!

Has got me thinking…..maybe I will add my own photos of Sydney to this blog.

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The kids are going to learn. The question is where.

Ed Burns, writer and creator of The Wire, series 4.426622486_43d439d009_m

Just finished watching series 4 of The Wire on dvd. Seriously compelling viewing. Basically, it is a “cop show” set in West Baltimore, US where drug lords are kings, kids are exploited, poverty is rife, corruption in public institutions is the norm and urban decay is prevalent. Not your average feel-good TV series.

What made me particularly interested in series 4, was the focus on the lives of four teenagers. Each day they are faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, education being a major challenge. This series is highly critical of the public education system in West Baltimore. It highlights how futile the mandatory testing regime is and questions the relevance of the curriculum for many of these students.

3197898013_dfc758bf40_mWith our compulsory national NAPLAN testing of Australian students in Yrs 3, 5, 7 and 9 just about to get underway, I couldn’t help but reflect on the benefits of testing students. Or not.

Major criticisms, such as narrowing the curriculum prior to testing so that teachers “teach to the test”, is certainly a concern. As the series demonstrated, teachers are hardly to blame. There’s a great scene during a staff meeting, when the Baltimore teachers are told to forget about teaching their subject for the next 3 months. Instead, they are directed to “teach” sample test papers so that the school can get a decent score in the tests. Sound familiar?

While this does not happen to the same extent in our schools (certainly not my experience, anyway!) the notion of “teaching to the test” certainly resonates to some degree. And no, I am not blaming teachers. They carry the can for a lot of decisions  they have no control over.

I suppose the point I want to make is two-fold.

  • NAPLAN can provide good diagnostic information about students that can assist teachers to modify their teaching program to better suit the needs of their students. If you are in NSW, the  Teaching Strategies that accompanies the NAPLAN data, is a fantastic resource. So get your grubby hands on it – even 2008 version!
  • As teachers, we need to be constantly mindful of the experiences and backgrounds that our students bring with them to learning, and adapt the curriculum so that it is more relevant to their lives. After all, that is a basic tenant of any pedgaogical framework, including the CEO Sydney’s Learning Framework.

So ends my rant !

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I read everyday. Love it! It’s one of my favourite forms of relaxation. Being on holidays, means even more reading. Woohoo! Here’s what I’m currently getting my teeth into…

That’s not counting all the web reading I like to do…. but I must say, I like turning the pages of a book.

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ECA Update

674326063_6b33d94b2b_mJust receieved my monthly WebWatch email alert from ECA – the Early Childhood Association of Australia. Reminded me what a great resource this is! Here are some highlights…..

ECA 2008 conference papers are now available….

419947233_55fc18fe5a_mThere are many other interesting conference papers. Check it out for yourself!

ECA also has new links connecting to the latest research and practical tips for Children Exploring….

Don’t forget to investigate their Free-Text Articles from quality journals. Brilliant!

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