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Jean Walker

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Posts posted by Jean Walker


  1. A very interesting article, John. I think you're right about the child I mentioned - that it used to be called Chromosome x. He has now been moved to our only special school where a separate room with toilet/shower has been added for his use only and with a teacher and aide to care for him. No doubt this will continue till he is leaving age. This will probably be at a cost of at least $150,000 a year with no research being done - just baby sitting. What happens after that I don't know.


  2. John - this particular child is basically being contained with activities and educational play etc but there is no research going on. Tasmania is tiny and the poorest state in the country and we have little opportunity for research into this type of problem.

    Because we are so small the gov't also gets away with not providing sufficient proper places for this type of child and they are often mainstreamed with an aide and little else.


  3. We use some rooms in a local high schol for our U3A (University of the Third Age) classes - don't think it's known in America, it's a school for seniors - and one room next to ours has been taken over for a incoming 12 yr old who has the vary rare Chromosome 17 syndrome. He is violent, destructive and without self-control. He has to have a full-time teacher and full-time aide and therapy as well as a whole room and toilet to himself. This is probably costing our small Ed'n Dept in the range of $150,000 a year and there is presently no hope for improvement, so for 10 year of schooling, $1.5 million. How does a small community deal with this when other children able to learn have funds cut as a result of balancing the budget?


  4. PS I meant to also say that we do not go in as much for gifted and talented designations either, or segregating academic achievement. The vast majority of our high schools and all our colleges are comprehensive in intake and although some G & T programs are available it's always been a very Australian thing that kids shouldn't be labelled or singled out - in fact we take it to extremes sometimes and we call it the tall poppy syndrome - cutting down to size those who aspire to too much. It's not always a hood thing but a very Australian attitude.


  5. I guess you first have to remember that in Australia our system is very similar to the UK only with less of the class system and rather more egalitarianism. In five of our States kids do years 11 and 12 at their high school like 6th forms in the UK, although Tasmania and the ACT have the separate two-year "6th form college" system. So, generally speaking they spend 6 years in high school from 12 to 17. Then they go to either university or a technical college or to work.

    So there is less separation of younger and older students which probably helps prevent the sort of elitism you're describing. Our Unis are much more like their UK counterparts and don't place too much emphasis on sport - although team sport is encouraged it's not at the forefront of university life in the same way as yours. I have friends who were university hockey players and after graduating they generally go on to play in local amateur teams which aren't connected to the university.

    There are no fraternities or sororities - the nearest thing you might find is the Golden Key club which students with honours grades are invited to join but it's not that much of a big deal. I have a couple of friends whose daughters are/were members but it doesn't appear to have much influence on them except as a reference for job seeking and a bit of extra social life!

    We are a small population and we have one national sports academy for promising sports men/women although it advertises itself as being mainly a provider of training for the sports industry. I don't know much about how it works but I suspect it's quite low key as it's never publicised much. I believe it's largely govt financed.

    As John says Australian sports stars obviously do achieve celebrity status but it's not usually via their college/uni backgrounds or connections. We have a fair proportion of "footy fans" as we call them here (I'm not one but my partner is) which is mainly directed towards Australian Rules at State and/or national level. Australian Rules is not a "university game" in the sense that I suspect your football is. Our celebs come from all walks of life and background and usually make their own way via school teams through amateur clubs and sports associations.

    On the while I wouldn't lay the blame for our bullying problems with sport or sporting elitism.


  6. I haven't been into this site for quite a long time as I retired a few years ago and my interest had slowly waned. The weather here is bad today so out of sheer boredom I wandered in and found your comments.

    I was a high school teacher here in Tasmania for 35 years and then ended my career as full time State President of our teachers' union for seven years and have kept up with things via friends who are still teaching or who are union officers. As you say, bullying seems to be on the increase everywhere including here - Tasmania is tiny and we haven't had any major tragedies yet but it will probably happen.

    My own belief is that we don't have the same emphasis here on sport and glorifying its participants as you do in the US. I can only speak for the public system here but we certainly don't have "lettermen" and the raz that appears to go with it and although being in a school or college team is considered a worthy goal it doesn't carry with it the glamour and hype I've read about in the US. From what I've seen here, the popular/unpopular groupings within schools are more likely to be based in pop/media and teen culture than sporting prowess. Outside the school gate it's likely to come from groups with clashing economic or socio-cultural divides.

    We have a very strange public/private system here with the private school sector being the biggest in the world with over 33% of students in it and highly subsidised by our federal and state govts. This system results in the best students being more and more creamed off to low-fee but still private schools, leaving the public system to largely educate only those whocannot afford anything else. Supporters of the private system may disagree but that's my take. However, the private system does have to abide by the national curriculum and other requirements to get their subsidies so they often turn out to be not that much different except parents can boast their kids are privately educated. It's the last bulwark of class distinction in Australia.

    If I had to lay the blame (and I'm well aware like you that there are many causes) I would put it more heavily on the media and the celebrity cult than sport. Our current media culture has taught kids that being famous is the most important thing one can achieve but that anyone can do it and it doesn't require talent or ability - you just have to be top dog somehow - anyhow. The media and IT in all its forms including news reports, have legitimised and promoted aggression and violence and made it non-real. This whole generation is more selfish, more egocentric, more isolated, and less truly connected despite FB, iphones and the like. And our political systems tells them that lying, cheating, aggression and bullying are OK if you want to get anywhere in life.

    We are having a media discussion here currently about the Junior Master Chef reality shows - one of our local teenagers won and has become an overnight 12 year old celebrity - how stupid is that! Women's magazines which once held stories and articles, are wall to wall celebrity worship. Anyone can get to the top and id overrules super-ego.

    How can teachers stand up against all this? It's near impossible. When dealing with many parents, all you get is more grief and from both sides. Parents nowadays won't believe anything bad about their kids, won't accept responsibility for their actions and then the kid watching this, sees no point in behaving rationally either. Of course there are still good parents and good kids but they are fast becoming a minority instead of the majority as they once were. Do I sound pessimistic? Yes, I'm afraid I am at the moment. Cycles come and go and this one isn't a good one.


  7. Sorry - I haven't been back to this site for a while.

    Re the abc article - Kevin Donnelly is a very controversial character here in Oz. I've met him several times. He is a far right wing, conservative and although I tend to agree with a lot of his comments, he is not well thought of by the progressive mainstream educationalists. He's very much a back to the basics man and critical of a lot of "modern" stuff even though it may have merit if it is not over utilised.

    I certainly agree with you about edspeak - we suffer here from a plethora of educational jargon and often promotion depends on speaking it fluently.

    Australia has just introduced a national curriculum for the first time ever and schools begin officially teaching it next year. It's more traditional and content driven than previously but I don't believe that's a bad thing as we had got to a silly state of affairs with each State having its own curriculum which varied from one extreme to another. At least now kids can move about and find the same teaching content in each grade.

    Was the behaviour bloke you met Bill Rogers? He has done a lot of work in England. I have been to several of his workshops as I used to be President of our Teachers Union and before that a secondary teacher. I have always thought highly of him and his down to earth solutions. I practised his broken record technique regularly. He once came to a very difficult school I taught in and at the end of the week freely admitted that he was glad he wasn't teaching one particular Yr 8 class - I WAS though.

    Cheers

    Jean W


  8. Here in Tasmania we are constantly being told how wonderful Finnish education is and sending our "gurus" and bureaucrats on fact finding missions to discover the secrets. What they fail to ever acknowledge is what is mentioned here - we don't have sufficiently good teacher training, we don't respect teachers, we fill up the curriculum with peripheral stuff that parents should be teaching and we don't spend enough money to get it right. And we are a completely different culture with a different history and values just as America is. it's useless to keep pointing out what the Fins do right when governments expect it to all change on a shoestring budget with kids and parents who don't cooperate. As it says - simple but not easy.


  9. My father died in late November last year at almost 95 and he did not have an easy end either. He had a stroke at home and lingered on in hospital for almost two weeks drifting in and out of consciousness and unable to speak and probably in pain. My mother and he had been married for one month less than 70 years when he died. I just wish they could have sent him off quietly straight away. My mother is now living alone at 88 and intensely lonely and practically housebound. I live 2 hours away and nursing home care here is extremely limited so she is left with a "care" package of help in the home which does nothing to alleviate her loneliness. It has all been an extremely valuable learning curve for me and the future.

    I am an only child and we migrated here to Australia in 1951 so from the age of 8, I never really knew my parents' families except for letters and a few visits to the few that are left in recent years. I grew up here without siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins and in many ways was kept very "British" by my parents.

    My maternal grandfather was a Yorkshire coal miner and died in his 60s from the effects of coal dust. My mother was clever at school but put into "service" at 14 and spent the rest of her life resentful of not having had any further education and having to do domestic work. Women of her age group generally didn't return to learning in adulthood - they were too busy rearing families and making ends meet.

    My paternal grandparents were Conservatives with a capital C and drove my father to early Communism which he retained all his life and later to migration to a newer country. He gave me a strong belief in social justice and trade unionism which eventually saw me being elected as State President of our single teachers' union here. I suppose I love/d them, though I'm never sure as I had no practice with family love as they were both incapable of physical affection. I know they loved me but they just couldn't show it except through criticism and over protection. It's left me with a very clear sense of self but not a very good ability to open up to others or to be maternal. I fight it but it isn't easy and I'm always aware it has impacted on my relationship with my three sons which is perfectly OK but not as physically close as i would wish.

    We are formed by parents, there's no doubt, for better or worse.


  10. How funny! I would have thought that most people would have been thrilled to have such famous relatives. Others would refer to them as free spirits, progressives, intellectual bohemians etc. If they are his idea of vulgar then what does he make of the Woolfs, the Bells, the Garnetts, the Lawrences, the Mitfords, the Happy Valley crowd etc etc? After all, they had to make up for being brought up in the late Victorian age then living through the first world war somehow!


  11. Oh, those wicked Bloomsbury's, how I love them. Has anyone written a book about these sisters? If so I haven't come across it and I am an avid biography reader of that era. Just finished "Uncommon Arrangements - Six Marriages in LiteraryLondon". Included is Virginia Woolf, H G Wells, Ottoline Morrell, the Bells, Garnetts etc etc. All very uncommon arrangements indeed.


  12. Mmmm... I see what you mean about the site. "Orrible!!

    The "Big Picture School" is something different. It's much as Cigram's quote described. Apparently there are about 100 of them in the US and they are being touted as the best thing since sliced bread but I can't seem to find any critiques of them anywhere.

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