Nothing like escaping to another (underwater) world to avoid the miserable state play regarding education currently occurring in the media.
However, diving on the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior today did provide crucial perspective about what is important. Politics, power games, intrigue and credibility can be such constant energy sapping players in our lives. Small minded debate served up by the media must be countered but it is not something which nourishes us. Rather it bears us ill.
In 1985 a victim of such ills was Fernando Pereira, the Greenpeace photographer who died from the blast of the second limpet mine placed on the hull of the Rainbow Warrior by French Secret Service (DGSE) agents. The French Government wanted to restrict the effect of protests surrounding the continued testing of nuclear weapons at Mururoa Atoll. Gee, why not do that testing in your own backyard, and not out in a colony far far away from Paris. People from the DGSE thought sinking a Greenpeace vessel moored in Auckland Harbour was a good strategy to deploy. I suspect groupthink was in play ~ no-one was able to have an opinion that differed from those in charge. No small voice of reason was allowed to survive, to suggest that this was not a good plan. It is a phenomena that has caused many disasters in this world...Cuban missile crisis in the Kennedy era, the Challenger Space Shuttle.... though not unique to Americans.
May we start doing a better job of minding ourselves and minding the planet.
Happy New Year to one and all.
December 22 2013
I am not sure what or who inspired you to write such a piece. I will defend your right to have an opinion, but the gross generalisations and simplistic interpretation contained in your article worries me and does little for the status of English teachers.
"And I'm sorry to say that I do not have the knowledge to explain to them why their expression is wrong - because I, too, was part of a generation that was denied access to the laws of the English language"
Ah, learned helplessness. Johanna you are espousing the attitude and approach of those who lack the capacity to realise the webiverse contains the answers you seek. If only you had made time and/or developed the capacity to efficiently use this thing you call a gimmick. Out in the internet there are many fine resources that will assist both you and your students with the somewhat crazy mechanics of the English language.
What did you do in your preservice English method classes if it was not at least some study of the mechanics of English? But regardless, if you are aware of a serious gap in your understanding of the mechanics of the English Language and your profession is that of an English teacher, one has to ask why, as a professional working in that field, you haven't redressed the situation? Given you are supporting the view that literacy and thinking standards are so atrocious, one can suggest that you are part of the problem and part of the solution.
Or are you intent on simply blaming the primary school teachers for what you claim is "startlingly low literacy skills and almost a complete inability to express ideas with clarity and accuracy."
There are many (primary and secondary) teachers who will vehemently disagree with you and happily point out the high-level capacities of their students to think, share, reflect and articulate their learning across a range of formats.
"I am a recent graduate from a postgraduate teaching course at one of Australia's leading universities, and I can attest to the fact that teaching courses around the country have tossed aside any sort of rigour, routine and repetition when it comes to classroom learning, especially in the junior years."
Hmmm... let me see, you attended a course at one university and therefore can extrapolate your experience across all post grad pre-service teaching courses in the country.
I would be first in line to suggest that the pre-service education needs some work but such a statement without any acceptable evidence adds fuel to the ridicule that such generalisations deserve.
"But I believe ICT is in fact little more than a gimmick - and I know that the novelty of it as a tool for engagement is fast wearing off. In many cases, the study of ICT heightens the potential for distraction, is extremely inefficient, wastes time and quite simply is unnecessary - students do not need the ''world at their fingertips'' all the time."
"... the study of ICT... is inefficient, wastes time and quite simply unnecessary.." .Seriously? I believe similar statements were made about the rejection of chalk & slate, and then pencils, followed by the use ink nibs, and the arrival of new fangled ball point pens.
Simplistic interpretations that view technology as a silver bullet invite failure. Any attempt to create effective change that is done in isolation is doomed. Simply placing technology in front of a learner is only small part of what has to happen. Those around the world who have viewed it as such, have invariably sipped from the bitter cup of failure.
Perhaps what you are really declaring is that you do not know, nor have you seen efficient technology use occurring in a powerful and purposeful manner which permits the student to discover, share, reflect, create, re-edit and respond in a manner which suits the connected generation.
The successful education of your parents sans IWBs and other technologies proves that they were able to negotiate the methodology of the day. And what of those from their generation who were not successful at schooling, who didn't fit the strict parameters of learning that were so common in schools across the country, if not the world? If the access to information and engaging ways in which information can be presented was available back then as it is today, would the percentage of people for whom schooling was an outright failure be reduced?
Any teaching and learning done badly is time waster, inefficient and of dubious value. The inquiry approach done well hits multiple points of learning in a context that provides meaning that can increase the retention of information and support the application of knowledge when new learning occurs.
On the upside, your article will prove a useful resource for English or any other teacher when teaching or refining the skills of critical thinking and the capacity to write with clarity in a reasoned and cogent manner supported by evidence and academic references.
Socrates and subsequently Plato learnt and taught their students under trees in the open air. Perhaps we could save countless millions, nay billions of dollars, by doing no more than was done for those who have gone before us, regardless of how the world has moved on.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/splashing-cash-wont-fix-australias-broken-education-system-20131220-2zqpl.html#ixzz2o9rEzXnA
I can only applaud Matt Golding for his succinct summation of the sad approach we continue to take with people who are so desperate that they put the lives of their family and themselves at significant risk in order to flee persecution and seek a safer life in another country. No sane person would expose their loved ones to such trauma if the circumstances in which they lived was not dire.
Oh blog, I know I have neglected you, but I have been busy. Several draft posts remained just that as the weeks and months passed. In the future may I do better in managing time to write for you, with you and on you.
With the passing this week of the Mandela and the legend and status of Madiba passing into even greater heights, it seems somewhat inappropriate to be referencing South Africa and the 2010 World Cup and the Vuvuzela, but there you have it.
hyphen31 (Don Collins) has been playing with technology since the days of the Apple+. On the web well before www, he continues to savour the richness of the webiverse in small bytes. He finally leapt from the couch and created this own domain & website forsaking all earlier incarnations...