Archive for January, 2010

Wake up Julia!

Here is Julia.

Julia is busy.

Julia is important.

She has an idea.

She calls it “My school.”

See Julia smile.

“Look parents!”, said Julia.

“Look teachers!”, said Julia.

“I have a website.’

“It is good”, said Julia.

“It will weed out bad teachers.”

“It will compare school performance.”

The website crashed.

It is bad.

“Wake up Julia!” said the teachers.

“NAPLAN is a diagnostic test!”

“It is not an achievement test.”

“Wake up, Julia!”, said the Principals.

“Myschool is not helpful”

“Myschool is simplistic.”

See the media run!

See them publish a league table!

See no change to student learning.

Wake up Julia!

(Apologies to the “Gay Days” Basal reader, NSW Dept Education…somewhere in the twilight zone of the 1960’s)

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I came from the dream-time, from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame.
I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come.
For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
I came upon the prison ship, bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man, I became Australian…

Should this take the place of our National Anthem? Bob Ellis in The Drum argues how untruthful our current anthem – Advance Australia Fair – is. Interesting what he has to say….

Every one of the first six lines rings false. We are not young. We are not free. Our soil is not golden. Wealth does not come from toil here, but from birth or short-selling or real estate.

Furthermore, he argues…

The second verse ‘For those who come across the seas/We’ve boundless wealth to share’ is an especially big lie. Our wealth is not boundless, and BHP Billiton does not like to share it. And boat people coming here across the sea if detected are towed back to Indonesia, or, until quite recently, imprisoned in Woomera, Baxter, Port Hedland, Villawood or Nauru.

He has a good point.

I’ll leave the last word to the 2010 Australian of the Year, Prof Patrick McGorry who criticized the government’s policy on detaining asylum seekers…

‘They’ve [refugees] experienced severe torture and trauma,” he said. ”What we have been doing … is adding to those mental health problems.’

He suggests that they should be processed as quickly as possible while living in the community.

Something to ponder as many Australians celebrate Australia Day today.

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Amen to that!

It is ironic that women are now welcomed into all major professions and other positions of authority, but are branded as inferior and deprived of the equal right to serve God in positions of religious leadership. The plight of abused women is made more acceptable by the mandated subservience of women by religious leaders.

Jimmy Carter, former US President

I came across this quote in an New York Times article written by Nicholas Kristof (reporduced in the Sydney Morning Herald) titled “Does Religion Oppress Women?”.

Now let me make it clear, I have absolutely NO desire to fulfill a religious leadership position! I can actually hear the howls of laughter from my friends and colleagues at this very thought. But considering I work for a religious-based  educational organisation, I can very confidently say women are DEFINITELY viewed as inferior. You just have to look at who holds the main positions of power. All men. Yet they make up perhaps 5% of our educational body. The other 95% are women.


In my experience, the short answer to the question does religion oppress women is YES. The long answer is YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!

It is also interesting to note that particular religions pull out the ethical card when protesting about issues such as stem cell research, abortion rights…..the list goes on! Yet they behave unethically themselves in the treatment – or oppression – of women. Where is the justice?!

I could go on forever about this issue. I am just glad that I live in a society where I am not limited by choices imposed by various religious institutions. Many women across the world are not so fortunate.

I will give the last word to Mr Kristof.

Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior. The Elders are right that religious groups should stand up for a simple ethical principle: any person’s human rights should be sacred, and not depend on something as earthly as their genitals.


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Musical Seduction

We were buzzing last night after seeing the Manganiyar Seduction, a musical group from Rajisthan in India.They are a headline act for the Sydney Festival program and rightly so!

Everything about the performance – the singing, the explosive sounds of the drumming, the mesmerising rythm of the traditional instruments – was stunning! The performers sat in  “musical boxes” reminiscent of the boxes in Amsterdam’s red light district.

We were all agog during the performance and were entertained at the end of the show by the director who, with great humour, answered some questions from the audience and gently stressed the importance and richness of racial tolerance between Indians and Australians.


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The Arrival

Ever read “The Arrival” by Shaun Tan? If not, do yourself a favour and read it. Or you could go and see the Sydney Festival production of “The Arrival” by a theatre group from Auckland, New Zealand. Brilliant! I saw it yesterday and was mesmerised by their acrobatic interpretation.

Oh, and if you do get round to reading the book, don’t expect a conventional text. It has no text. Just beautiful, evocative  illustrations to tell the story. And what a powerful story it is!

It’s a moving narrative of an immigrant’s journey to a new land and  tells of the strange customs, strange language and even stranger animals that he encounters!! It vividly depicts the struggle that many immigrants face when re-locating to another country – a very topical story considering the current hysteria surrounding assylum seekers arriving by boat off Australia.

This story is familiar to Shaun as I believe he and his family arrived in Australia from Vietnam many years ago – as boat people. Luckily they survived the experience as Shaun is one of my favourite children’s author/illustrators going round!

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Stunning photos, many quite sobering, from the Sydney Morning Herald.

[This is not one of them. Nice photo, though! Should have known I couldn’t embed SMH multimedia. Dang!]

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I hope you all had a relatively stress-free christmas and fun-filled New Year. I celebrated NY in the Blue Mountains with a few friends. Here’s one of them!

2010 started off with a bang when my car broke down as I was leaving Orange NSW. It is still there – minus a gearbox! Considering I had it serviced before I left Sydney as it had broken down the week before, the first change for me in 2010 is finding a new car mechanic!!!

A few other changes are in the air for me as well….particularly on the work front. Woohoo!

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