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Category Archives: equity/welfare

Congratulations SHS

am 0301 That is, to Sydney Boys Highs School and Sydney Girls High School, side by side since 1927-8, and this year celebrating 150 years service to education in NSW. Yes, I have a stake, as I went to Sydney High — there’s the evidence on the left — and indeed saw the 75th anniversary! I have also taught in both schools, though mainly at SBHS.

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See also My English teachers 1.

I should also mention that in another life this site was the Sydney Boys High School English and ESL Site. That does not mean the school endorses everything on it, of course, but I did begin this to support the English/ESL students I worked with from 2001 to 2005. I taught (on and off) at SBHS from 1985 to 2005.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2008 in 1950s, boys education, nostalgia, reminiscences

 

Spell it like it is | spiked

Spell it like it is | spiked by Frank Furedi, author of Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?: Confronting Twenty-First Century Philistinism (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004), is a mix of sense and nonsense in my view. First the nonsense:

In essence, variant spelling is a true companion to the idea of variant truths. Contemporary cultural life has become estranged from the idea of Truth with a capital T. In academia, social scientists never tire of informing students that there are no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers. Instead of the truth, people are exhorted to accept different perspectives as representing many truths.

The demotion of the status of truth calls into question the purpose of gaining knowledge. Celebrating variant truths, like variant spellings, is presented as a pluralistic gesture of tolerance. In fact it represents a reluctance to take education and its ideas seriously. And not surprisingly, those who do not take ideas seriously are also not very worried about how they are spelled.

Only if you like grinding axes, Frank! Talk about reading things into stuff… The question of how best to deal with errors, spelling or otherwise, has been around long before those deep cultural matters of postmodernism and relativity that so vex cultural conservatives. There are areas where pluralism is extremely appropriate, in my view — religion not least. Religious tolerance, much to be desired in the modern world, depends on such pluralism, as it not such a long step from rejecting that to deciding “You’re right and I’m wrong, so I’m afraid I have to kill you…”

But spelling?

Yes, I am in favour of people being able to spell English words correctly; always have been. But I try not to confuse issues in the manner of Frank Furedi. I do not see spelling errors as evidence of cultural rot. I do see them as inconveniences for writers and readers, and therefore to be dealt with. So I can sympathise with Frank Furedi when he complains that this is not good enough:

My principal objection to ‘variant spelling’ is that it reinforces the pernicious idea that children and young people today cannot be expected to meet the difficult challenge of learning how to use language correctly. For some time now, influential educators have asked whether it is desirable to teach children correct spelling. Some pedagogues argue that teaching spelling is a waste of time that serves no positive purpose. Others claim that an insistence in the classroom on spelling everything correctly frustrates those who suffer from learning disabilities and dyslexia.

I suspect he has never seriously considered the issues of learning disabilities and dyslexia. I have, and am perfectly able to reconcile thinking teaching spelling is far from a waste of time with adjusting my practice when dealing with those with learning difficulties.

Sorry, but Furedi really is a bit of a windbag on this matter.

Yes, you can learn about spelling on this site: I’m a poor speller. Can you help?

 

Multicultural Australia: you’re standing in it!

A small swag of human interest stories in today’s Sun-Herald in the wake of Australia Day say more about the comparative success of Australian multiculturalism — diversity AND cohesion — than a whole peck of moanings and mutterings on talk-back radio or similar venues. Aussie pride? Stories like this give it to me in heaps. May there be more and more of them. Let’s celebrate what we have with open hearts.

The first story is such a great contrast to the brief agony that was Cronulla 05.

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WHEN he’s in the line-up off Sydney’s popular beaches, Haisam Farache is just another surfer waiting for a wave.

But once he’s out of the water he swaps his wetsuit and surfboard for a robe and turban and assumes the role of an imam at Australia’s largest mosque.

“For me it relates to how I am as an Australian and a Muslim,” he said. “When I go to the beach I feel rejuvenated. I feel like a new person and whatever stresses I have in my life are being washed away with the waves.”

The 34-year-old, who began surfing at 11, said his pastime intrigued his students at the Lakemba Mosque. Most laughed, he said, when they discovered he was a surfer, and found it difficult to believe a religious leader had an interest outside teaching Islam.

The Auburn-based lawyer said surfing was also an ice-breaker when he visited schools across the country as part of his work with the Together for Humanity Foundation.

He recalls visiting a school on the northern beaches where many students began calling him a terrorist. Once the children discovered he was a surfer, their opinion changed and they saw him as one of “them”, he said.

The second story told about nine of the 3300+ from 56 countries who pledged their allegiance to the flag in ceremonies across NSW yesterday.

Figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show 95 per cent of the population are Australian citizens. However, there are more than 900,000 permanent residents who are eligible to become Australian citizens.

Of the 27,494 immigrants who arrived in NSW between January 1 and December 1 last year, one out of six was from China, making it one of the largest source of immigrants to the state.

Meanwhile, India has overtaken Britain as our second-biggest source of new citizens, followed by the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Lebanon and Indonesia.

Pakistanis and Iraqis are also among our fastest-growing migrant groups…

Abdulai Jallah knew he had to find a new home after fleeing war-torn Liberia several years ago…

—  Liliana Auwyang adored Australia when she visited as a tourist more than 10 years ago. It was the beautiful scenery and culture that had this 41-year-old from Panania, in south-western Sydney, hooked. So, not long after her return to Jakarta, she began researching how to come back permanently…

Richard Brunskill lived his whole life in central London before settling down-under…

Rania Islam. One of the newest little Australians was born at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick, yesterday. Rania Islam arrived at 2.40am, much to the delight of her parents, Sharmin Khan and Rezaul Islam, and her big brother Rayyan Islam, 18 months. “It’s very exciting,” Mr Islam said. “We are very proud.” Ms Khan and Mr Islam moved to Australia six years ago and became citizens last year.

Douglas Snider. IT WAS true love that brought Douglas Snider to Sydney six years ago. His wife Tiate was born and bred in the inner-west suburb of Newtown. Now that he’s here, he wouldn’t swap it for the world. “I love absolutely everything here in Australia,” he says…

— THE first Australian park Ewi Sook Oh visited was dotted with coin-operated barbecues… “I love the Australian environment and way of life. I think it is God’s gift,” Ewi says. “In my home in South Korea there are tall buildings and crowds everywhere. There are not so many people in Sydney but they come from other countries everywhere and I feel it is a good opportunity for me to learn about their traditions and customs.”

Rene Strauss Arias. THE reopening of Sydney’s Hilton Hotel in mid-2005 could hardly have been better timed for 49-year-old Filipino Rene Strauss Arias

— WHEN Anwar Hamam landed in Australia, he was merely chasing an opportunity to further his education… But like many of his fellow new Australians, Anwar settled permanently after meeting his partner here… “What I like about Australia is that it is very safe,” Anwar says. “It also offers me so much in freedoms and opportunities. I can become whoever I want to be here. There seems to be a lot more to do here than just about anywhere else.”

A NATIVE of St Petersburg, Andrei Bobylev first heard about Australia from some friends who had already been, and he became curious.

Then he read the travel diary, Down Under, by best-selling American author Bill Bryson, and decided to follow suit. That was three years ago…

Source: The Sun-Herald

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    On assimilation

     
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    Posted by on January 27, 2008 in Australian, equity/welfare, inspiration, multiculturalism

     

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    Email about the Educational Testing Service

    This arrived this morning.

    Hello,

    Because you write about ESL and learning the English language, I thought you and your readers might be interested in the Educational Testing Service’s [link] new TOEFL Tips & News feed [link]. TOEFL Tips and News is a free way for students to keep updated on the latest TOEFL developments, share English learning tips, and receive helpful insights from ETS on how to pass their exam.

    Here are some recent headlines from TOEFL’s Tips & News:
    • What Should You Read to Build Your Reading Skills?
    • How To Recognize a Pronoun Instantly
    • By 2008, seats for TOEFL iBT will increase by 80% in China

    You can subscribe to TOEFL Tips & News by visiting the ETS website. Please help us tell students about ETS’ newest educational tool by copying and pasting this code to your blog: Subscribe to TOEFL Tips and News from ETS.

    We appreciate any help you can offer to spread the word!

    On ETS see Wikipedia.

    The Educational Testing Service (or ETS) is the world’s largest private educational testing and measurement organization, operating on an annual budget of approximately $1.1 billion on a proforma basis in 2007. ETS develops various standardized tests primarily in the United States for K-12 and higher education, but they also administer tests such as TOEFL and GRE internationally. Many of the assessments they develop are associated with entry to US tertiary (undergraduate) and quaternary education (graduate) institutions…

    ETS has been criticized for being a “highly competitive business operation that is as much multinational monopoly as nonprofit institution”.

    Due to its legal status as non-profit organization, ETS is exempt from paying federal income tax. Furthermore, it does not need to report financial information to the Securities and Exchange Commission…

    It is worth looking at their free magazine Innovations.

    See also Fairtest.org.

    The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) Works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.

    Australian connection

    According to the Summer 2007 issue of Innovations, ETS produced the Adult Literacy and Life Skills survey used in Australia. I have a post on that here.

     

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    ADHD, etc

    I really am not an expert on this, but I have certainly encountered examples during my teaching career. Quite often, especially early on, I probably did not handle such people well either.

    I was prompted by tonight’s 7.30 Report to write a post on Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder. The report showed strong neurological evidence that this disorder, which is still subject of much controversy, really is a physical thing.

    A world first study conducted by University of Melbourne researchers has identified a new area of the brain, linked to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in children. Researchers have discovered a significant lack of activity in a region at the back of the brain, which underpins a child’s ability to manage stress. The finding points to a biological basis for the controversial condition rather than problems of inadequate parenting or poorly behaved children, or even diet as the primary cause of difficult behaviour. The findings could lead to better diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, which affects up to five per cent of primary school aged children…

    There are links to video interviews and to further stories on the 7.30 Report site.

    Some issues are discussed in this UK article: Socio-educational and Biomedical Models in the Treatment of Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder and related Neurobehavioural Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence, and their Implications for Adult Mental Health by Ian N Ford BA DMS FRSH.

    …We would suggest that there is evidence to support the existence of AD/HD as a neurobiochemical disorder ( or a spectrum of related disorders ) which has a significant impact upon children and adults, affecting their ability to function effectively in a variety of situations, social, intellectual and in education or employment.

    These individuals respond best to pharmacological and behavioural treatments, yet traditionally such treatments have been kept as a second tier if not a last resort. One can say that there is not an ” objective clinical test ” for AD/HD and that the diagnostic criteria used are inadequate, inconsistent and confusing. But then all one has to do is read a few sets of notes from a Child Guidance Clinic to wonder if explanations of behavioural problems as due to ” sibling rivalry ” or whatever stand up to similar examination.

    It is easy to criticise American doctors for prescribing Ritalin without proper investigation, and to blame the increase in diagnosis of neurobehavioural disorder as an attempt by parents to seek a ” disability ” that explains why their child is not academically gifted. However, one has also to question whether the British establishment has got it right either…

    An American psychiatrist, Dr D B Henley, has posted a number of mp3s on the subject (and others) here, and this YouTube as part of a continuing series “It’s a Brain Thing.” It’s 30 minutes long.

    There are other stories on the ABC site including Meditation helps kids with ADHD.

     

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    Open Education

    Tom Hanson, the editor of this good US site, left a comment on “Changing lives without aiming to”, a post on my new Blogspot blog. First I am glad he did as I like both that post and the new blog — a rant-free zone of personal reflections on teaching — and then I find I like his site.

    openeducation.jpg

     
    Comments Off on Open Education

    Posted by on October 11, 2007 in blogs, equity/welfare, for teachers, pedagogy, site news

     

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    Updating and maintenance

    Of course all links on this site worked at the time I first recorded them here, but the internet is always in flux. I have today been through all entries tagged “HSC” and made sure links are still working. Some links I have had to delete, others to put on hold for one reason or another. I have added some too.

    If ever you find a dead link let me know on a comment, or in the guest book, or by email. Thanks.

    On my personal blog there are some recent entries that will interest some readers.

  • Teacher Pride Rules!
  • Three uplifting stories.
  • The HSC English moanings of Miranda… This is a response to criticism of the latest HSC text list for NSW and includes some background material on English in the HSC and earlier.
  • Assimilation/Integration/Multiculturalism: policy and practice in Australia since 1966 1
  • Assimilation/Integration/Multiculturalism: policy and practice in Australia since 1966 2
  • For the record: the great SBHS race debate of 2002.
  • More on multiculturalism etc.
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