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Jean Walker

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Everything posted by Jean Walker

  1. Jean Walker


    Graham - I didn't realise you grew up in Maidstone - that's where I spent two years teaching in 91/92, at The Mallings comprehensive in West Malling and at the EBD unit in Harrietsham. Also did various bits of supply in villages around there. I'm like you, a bit of a fence sitter. Non-selection and non-streaming always sound so wonderful in theory but never seem to work out for everyone in practice. Maybe there is no perfect answer. If I had a mixed ability class of well-behaved and motivated students, then I would certainly be able to teach them. However, that is not the case when in a mixed-ability class you have gifted at one end, average kids in the middle and also some badly behaved, dysfunctional, emotionally mixed-up students along with a couple of included students with impaired intellect and/or physical disabilities and a couple of ADHD students thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately that's what many classes today consist of and not even the best teacher in the world can do their best for each child in those circumstances with the resources available. It's beyond the call of duty.
  2. Article in our local paper today in which a dentist says he is beginning to see scurvy in patients whose diet is largely sugar and fat. He says he is seeing " third-world mouths" - another horrifying result of unhealthy diets.
  3. Jean Walker

    Why do teachers leave the profession?

    Our Union surveys here always show workload and behaviour as the two chief reasons and probably if you fixed workload, behaviour issues could be better dealt with. I think young teachers find themseklves in a position of all responsibility and accountability, but no power to change things. You can earn better money for less stress and frustration and greater promotion opportunities elsewhere so many do, which leaves only the devoted, but cynical about management and policy, hanging in till retirement.
  4. Jean Walker

    Does television influence behaviour?

    I vividly remember my friends and I doing exactly the same thing with The Goons skits each week - we howled with laughter every week as we did the voices of Eccles, Bluebottle and Neddy- we annoyed the teachers back then too but it doesn't appear to have blighted any of our lives. I hope that's the biggest problem this primary school has!
  5. Jean Walker

    Who would you like to share a pint with

    Shakespeare - to ask him all those questions to which noone knows the answers. I enjoy coming to this forum and have no objection to other people's interests and I can understand wanting to know what happened - I just can't personally get my head around the level of obsession with Kennedy. However, that's my problem - I just ignore and pass on to the other stuff. Thank you for setting up the forum, regardless of its minor obsessions.
  6. Here in Tasmania children with ASD are mainstreamed unless they are almost completely unmanageable. We have 0.7% of our school population in special schools compared with the OECD average of between 1.5 and 2.0%. We are constantly told by the powers that be that this is a wonderful thing, but many of our teachers think otherwise. While students at the mild to medium end of the spectrum are probably benefiting and learning and not impacting too much on others, those with severe problems create huge stress for teachers, cause disruption to the learning of others and gain little benefit themselves. They often miss out on the skills training which is vital for their condition and often are "babysat" by TAs who have insufficient training and are paid too little to properly support them. Our system often does provide a TA one to one for these students but they are not necessarily the right type of support. And the numbers of these students is growing. A more ideal situation would be to have a special unit on mainstream sites and integrate and separate as necessary for them to learn and progress, as well as give others sufficient attention. But of course this takes a great deal of money and it's easier to come up with a solve-all philosophy of total inclusion than find the money. Cynical, moi??
  7. Jean Walker

    Australia and the World Cup

    I was attending a large retirement dinner in Melbourne that night - someone at my table had been glued to their mobile phone and suddenly yelled "We won, we won". My comment of "Won what?" was greeted with total amazement. There aren't many of us totally non-sport oriented Ozzies around. However, what was happening at this particular dinner may be of interest to some of you interested in politics and history. It was to mark the retirement of the long serving Gen Sec of our national teachers' union, Rob Durbridge, and it came the day after the biggest union rally in Australia for what the Melbourne police described as within living memory and the two national leaders of our ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) were both at the dinner.The city centres of Melbourne and Sydney were crammed with protestors and even here in Tasmania, 10,000 turned out and there would have been many more if teachers and nurses had not been ordered not to attend by their employers. Why? Because our PM, having gained control of both houses in the last election, has driven through 800 pages of the most draconian industrial legislation ever known to man or beast. It is designed to destroy workers' rights, drive down the minimum wage and increase employers' profits. Exactly the same sort of legislation was introduced in New Zealand a decade ago and it cut the minimum wage by a third and increased community welfare handouts by 1000%. It is only now being repealed by the new Labour government. Even many of those who voted him in are now horrified at what is happening. For this country this is a moment in our history which will go into the political text books. The things that Australians have fought for over the last hundred years could be totally wiped out - justice, fair play, safety at work, supporting the weak and vulnerable - all in the name of big business and profit. If you're interested it's worth Googling something like Industrial Reform+John Howard+Australia
  8. Jean Walker

    Removing Dictators From Power

    Without wishing to offend our American correspondents and knowing this is not an entirely rational argument (but then I AM a woman), I think what offends me most about the invasion of Iraq, is the hypocrisy that it was done by a country which the rest of the world is starting to perceive as being highly corrupt, fanatical, uncaring and undemocratic itself. Certainly, here in Australia that is a strongly held belief as we see our PM sycophantly fawning over Bush and trying to take us down some of the worst aspects of American economics and culture. I'll never forget seeing the musical Miss Saigon years ago, when the black American soldier, looking at the horrors caused by the war there, sang: I am an American. How could I do wrong? Apologies to our US posters, but I think it's a growing feeling round the world that in fact they can be very wrong.
  9. Jean Walker

    Legislation and the Bible

    I suppose what it comes down to is that we all want our governments to reflect our own personal beliefs. I come from an atheist, communist background tempered into socialist agnosticism. I therefore would want a government which allows freedom of religion, freedom of choice over birth control, abortion etc, but does these things in as humanitarian a way as possibe eg - preferably early abortion, preferably educating the young about responsible sex and having a welfare system that cares about the disadvantaged and disabled. I'd probably be reasonably happy with a government that based its actions on the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
  10. Jean Walker

    Best Democratic System

    Can't answer this, but wasn't it Socrates who said democracy may only mean that 51% of people are wrong?
  11. Jean Walker

    Morality and Income Tax

    I agree with those on here who believe that people should pay tax relative to what they earn and probably more than 40% and that those countries which pay higher taxes such as Scandinavia seem to supply better community services. The trouble does seem to be, certainly here, that the rich have such numerous ways of avoiding tax while the ordinary worker escapes nothing and gets little in return. Our top CEOs earn hundreds of thousands a day while an unskilled worker earns less than $10 an hour. I'm not a communist, but there is something wrong with that. Here in Australia we are currently having imposed upon us the most draconian right-wing industrial relations reforms in our history (might be worth a look at for your students) where minimum wages will be reduced to match the US, workers' right are being taken away, collective bargaining is being replaced with individual contracts and unions are being systematically weakened. No surprise that our PM is proud to be a "friend" of GWB. But, this is not the Australia we have known or that many of us want - the Federal govt was elected without this being publicly in their manifesto and the states are fighting it as hard as they can. Big business here is God and the ordinary worker is simply fodder for those profits.
  12. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/secti...s^^TEXT,00.html Link to relevant articles in The Australian newspaper
  13. Anyone want to discuss OBE - big topic here in Australia as it has now been adopted by all states in one form or another and is causing some interesting debate. See website from Western Australia: www.platowa.com Has it failed already in some places? Does it work? Where has it worked? Is it better than what we had? If so, why? Any thought most welcome.
  14. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    I'm bringing this forward again to ask if there are any American teachers out there who have had experience of Outcomes Based Education and who have any opinions either for or against. I gather it was big and contraversial there in some states in the late 90s? It is currently a huge topic in Australia with national newspapers weighing in with front page articles as it is being steadily introduced into every state with promises of magnificent results on children's critical thinking skills, problem solving capacities etc It was also tried in New Zealand and South Africa with very mixed results from what I can gather. If you want a taste of what is going on in Western Australia where teachers have set up their own website to oppose it go to: www.platowa.com
  15. Jean Walker

    Are Some Children Unteachable?

    I've replied in a similar vein to you, Graham, on the other thread on this topic.
  16. Jean Walker

    Channel 4 - The Unteachables

    The program hasn't yet been shown here in Tasmania so perhaps I shouldn't be commenting, but my question would be, not CAN such students be taught in mainstream, because of course they CAN, but SHOULD they be, to the detriment of other students,. Here we do not have any special units like PRUs and EBDs and only three small special schools for severely disabled students. In other words our inclusion program is so "comprehensive" that only .07% of our students are in special schools compared with 1.5% OECD average. This has a huge impact on teachers' ability to teach every student in their class. I think the question is about whether having such students impacts on the learning of those who want to learn and are willing/able to behave in a way that promotes learning.
  17. Jean Walker

    My Political Ideology

    Left-wing/Libertarian Socialist/Feminist (something vaguely like that) My father was a member of the communist party here in Australia during the 50s and 60s when I was growing up and for years we received Soviet Woman in the post instead of the Women's Weekly. He was a railway shop steward and militant unionist most of his life and I have certainly followed in his footsteps in that regard. My grandfather was a Yorkshire coal miner during the Thatcher era and my cousin, his grandson, was one of the mounted policemen who rode against them in the streets, something he has never forgotten. My only sibling was born severely mentally disabled and was in a state institution all her 11 years of life. With this sort of background it would be difficult to be anything else. However, I have not espoused my father's passionate belief in communism. (He still has them at 90 years old) I could understand the reasons he believed, having lived through the depression in England, but I could see the negatives in it and saw that he chose to ignore those aspects. He actually believed that the end justifies the means in relation to Trotsky etc and I couldn't accept that. I do, however, believe strongly in a welfare system, hopefully well-run, but there has to be one. My parents could not have afforded to look after my sister without a free health system, I would not have gone to University without free tertiary education under Gough Whitlam here in Oz. I have a mildly brain damaged grand-son here who will probably never work - the state must look after such people. We must pay sufficient taxes, all of us, to ensure we have jobs, a good health, education and pension system, after that let people who want to make profits, do it within reason. I seem to remember that when I was in Sweden they once had a system where profits over a certain level had to be put back into govt loan funds or something like that. I believe that if we live in a society where the govt sets the example that people don't matter, that everyone is capable of looking after themselves, that ony ME counts, that profits and big business are the gods, then we will end up with a society which believes the same - maybe we're there already! I also strongly believe that unless a country can solve the unemployment problem, society will suffer. I have been a strong unionist all my working life and am now the elected full-time president of our state (Tasmania) teachers' union. Although challenging and difficult at times, I love doing something which hopefully at least makes some things better for workers. And I have to tell you that my old Dad is very proud of me.
  18. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    Two interesting articles from our local paper. We are in the middle of a huge media/DoE/parental contoversy here about education Young pollies raising ELS By HEATHER LOW CHOY 09sep05 FIFTY of Tasmania's most talented students yesterday gave the Education Department's new Essential Learnings curriculum a big thumbs down. Delegates at Youth Parliament voted almost unanimously to abolish Essential Learnings and bring back the curriculum it replaced. The event, held at Parliament House, gives some of Tasmania's brightest students the chance to debate and discuss the issues that are most important to them. Hutchins School student Tom Melick sponsored the Youth Parliament Bill to remove Essential Learnings because he was not enjoying the new curriculum. Mr Melick, 16, of Taroona, said his peers groaned when asked to "engage in expert group activity" in the classroom. "Everyone groans `Oh no, it's ELS'," he said. "What exactly is a key element outcome? It's all very confusing." Taroona High student Niall Maurici, 15, of Oyster Cove, said he proposed the Bill because he did not understand ELS. "If we don't understand it, I don't see the point of having it," he said. Tassie top of the class : People will move here for our schools, says professor By HEATHER LOW CHOY10sep05 PARENTS should not lose faith in the new Essential Learnings curriculum, says the state's top education academic.University of Tasmania Professor and Dean of Education Rosalyn Arnold says that in a few years, Tasmania will be renowned for its education system.And the controversial new curriculum will make it worth relocating to Tasmania for its public education system, she said.Language experts blasted the Education Department this week for using convoluted jargon to explain Essential Learnings to parents.Parents branded the language used on Education Department information sheets as "confusing", "ridiculous" and "just crazy".But Professor Arnold says parents must not lose faith in the new curriculum."I think it's very clear the Education Department recognises it has some work to do and I would agree with that," she said."It would be a great shame if people were to lose confidence in the new curriculum because of the language."Essential Learnings is based on the best theories of learning and thinking development available. Its foundations are very sound."Professor Arnold said students who found the new curriculum objectionable would come to enjoy Essential Learnings.On Thursday, 50 of the state's brightest students gave it the thumbs down.Delegates at the Youth Parliament voted almost unanimously to remove Essential Learnings and bring back the old curriculum.Professor Arnold said a possible explanation for students' lack of enthusiasm for Essential Learnings was its intellectually challenging nature."I say that because they are being asked to think about what they're learning, to engage with each other, to develop understanding, not just repeat memorised information," she said.Acting Education Minister Lara Giddings said: "We accept that more work needs to be done in the way we inform parents, schools and the wider community about the curriculum."Despite the recent debate over language, the fact remains that Tasmania has been recognised nationally and internationally for developing a curriculum at the cutting edge of education."Ms Giddings said the education curriculum continued to place a strong emphasis on core subjects."If Tasmanian children are to succeed we need them to be able to think independently with an emphasis on ideas and creativity. Ultimately, this is what the Essential Learnings is all about," she said.
  19. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    FERRETING AROUND THE OBE STORY Between 16-29 November 1998, Dr. William Spady, the proclaimed Father of OBE visited South Africa to spread the word on his paradigm shifting thoughts on education. In a brief report compiled on his visit Dr Spady is is described as the President of Breakthrough Learning Systems and "an internationally recognized authority on Outcomes Based Education. organizational change, transformational leadership development and strategic planning." The report further goes on to say that in "the past 25 years he has spearheaded major efforts throughout North America and abroad on improving staff and student performance and systematically changing educational sysyems.Today he is also applying those same tools to improving leadership amd organizational effectiveness in business and the public sector." The bibliography attached to the report cites the following as"pioneering work on future-driven strategic planning and alignment, systemic change, instuctional design and leadership development." Outcome Based Education: Critical Issues and Answers(1994) Paradigm Lost: Reclaiming America's Educational Future (1998) Total Leaders: Applying The Best Future Focussed Change Strategies To Education(1998) It is claimed in the bibliography that a book he co-authored "Information Age Learning" is a "ground breaking document that defines and describes the operating essentials and indicators of "Information Age Learning Communities". It further claims that the book is "setting standards for educational change efforts in both North America and South Africa".
  20. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    http://www.funderstanding.com/outcome_based_edu.cfm If you do a bit of Googling about Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Africa and New Zealand plus OBE, you will find that in some places it has come and gone and seen as a failure, while other places are taking it on as the best thing since education began. I suspect that the move towards "personalised learning" in the UK may be OBE under a new guise as our gurus here have recently been on a mission to Britain to "sell" it over there, so I think you'll hear about it before long.
  21. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

  22. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    http://www.teachers.ash.org.au/bce/obe.htm Here's one link to an explanation. I'll find a couple more. It is basically a system which specifies the outcomes for each learning area in a range of "levels" which roughly cover the Grade or Year . In our system there are 5 levels which equate to K-10. so five levels for 12 grades (we have Prep after Kinder). Theoretically students are not supposed to move on to a higher level until they have mastered the previous one. It generally does not mandate any particular content or syllabuses, but schools are supposed to "map the curriculum backwards from the standards". It was very big in some parts of the US from the late 90s, spread to New Zealand and Sth Africa, and has now hit Australia in a big way. More links in next post.
  23. Jean Walker

    Outcomes Based Education (OBE)

    No takers? Has no one worked in such a system? It appears to have failed in Minnesota and Pennsylvania, New Zealand and South Africa, yet other places forge ahead with it. Why is it better or worse than syllabus based education?
  24. Jean Walker

    Failure or Deferred Success

    But that's just common sense - no one sensible is going to use the word failure to a child who is being taught something they haven't been taught before such as swimming or riding a bike. Of course you encourage them and act positively. On the other hand, once the child has learnt to swim/ride a bike and wants to enter some swimming/bike races, they are going to either win or lose. Then a sensible parent uses the opportunity to teach them about winning and losing and how to deal with it. I can't understand what is difficult about knowing how to handle these things if you are reasonably intelligent. The problem seems to come with less intelligent/educated parents who drive their children to win at any cost and berate them if they lose, and lose their patience when a child doesn't quickly succeed at something, but we're never going to completely eliminate humans who aren't very insightful or self-aware. Neither are we likely to eliminate those at the other end of the extreme who see any sort of "failure", however mild and unharmful to the child, as unacceptable. I sometimes think we live in one of the most "uncommon-sense" eras that's ever been around!!!
  25. Jean Walker


    I've only just come across this marvellous site. Does anyone else belong? I've "released" three books and one has been "captured" a couple of days ago. I love it! There's even a group in Tasmania and they also hold conferences all over the world. www.bookcrossing.com