Parents and kids have nothing to fear from NAPLAN. In fact, we’ve got everything to gain from finding out how are kids are faring at school.
Teachers and schools doing their job well should also welcome NAPLAN, which is the national literacy and numeracy test given to kids in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. So why are so many educators trying to scare parents into thinking that standardised testing is a bad thing?
It makes me think some schools don’t welcome the accountability offered by the most rigorous national testing regime we’ve seen in decades As a parent, I want to know how my kids are shaping up against other kids in their class, in their school, and across the country. I also want to know their teachers are doing a good job, and I think NAPLAN helps us keep track of this.
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Humanity is facing a crisis of moral leadership - men and women of character who can choose wisely and well in the difficulties, dilemmas and complexity of contemporary business and government.
One of the biggest risks we face today is an assumption that because people share or subscribe to our corporate values, that they in fact share our moral perspective. Enron, LIBOR, AWB, unanswered questions at Note Printers Australia, and any number of examples would indicate immediately that is not the case.
The public travails of St John’s College and its students throw into stark relief the need to ask questions of potential employees to gain an insight about their moral outlook. It would be foolish of any organisation to assume that academic prowess equates with sound character.
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I went to Sydney Uni, fell in love with a girl who attended one of the residential colleges and married her 10 years later. Our courtship didn’t start smoothly. One night, just as things began to get steamy for the first time, a vomit competition started up in the hallway outside her room.
Yes, a vomit competition. On the hallway carpet. A projectile vomit competition, to be precise. Don’t ask me how the contest worked. Maybe it was a distance thing. Maybe it had something to do with the ratio of carrot chunks. Either way, those competitive vomiters embodied (or should that be disembodied?) everything that is wrong with the old communal colleges in the sandstone universities.
This week, Sydney Archbishop George Pell announced he would step in and try to fix the ongoing mess at Sydney Uni’s St John’s College. His intervention comes after years of shameful incidents, including the near-death of a female student after an initiation ritual gone wrong. It’s a good move by Pell, but I’ve got a better one. Disband the colleges altogether.
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Buying your place in medical school. It evokes images of lazy rich kids displacing slaving battlers out of the noble caring profession of medicine to keep elite societal structures intact. The truth is actually the complete opposite.
That’s what makes last week’s attack on full-fee paying places by Australia’s Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) so surprising. Apparently arranging a loan to study generates inequities of some sort. Being such a long-held view, it’s probably time for a re-think.
Australia can be proud of its blended public and private service provision. We do it better than any other nation. Roughly half of us take out private health cover and over a third attend non-state schools.
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Many Australians believe that China is a threat to our way of life. Once you have lived here you find this to be most unlikely.
In this China Watch article I hope to describe the Chinese people’s love of community, friends and especially family. In so doing, I will give three reasons to dispel the fears of those Australians.
Family is most important to the Chinese people. I never understood the Cantonese insult “Puc Gai”, roughly translated as “fall down in the street” or “die in the street”, until I attended my father in law’s passing and the following funeral.
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Access to post-secondary education should be based on merit and not ability to pay. We know that graduates of further education typically enjoy higher incomes over their lifetimes than non-graduates and that tertiary and further education is critical to personal growth.
It is estimated that Australians without a Certificate III could be earning an additional $400,000 on average over the course of a typical working life if they attain a Certificate III qualification or higher. The benefits of higher and post-secondary education, however, historically have not always been shared widely and equitably in our society.
Instead, a disproportionately higher of number students from privileged backgrounds have enjoyed access to opportunities for further education while others have been left behind.
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The Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, in the Road to Serfdom, warns against centralised planning and control. He also warns of the conceit evidenced by bureaucrats and politicians that they can regulate and manage the myriad, complex relationships and transactions underpinning an open and free society.
One doubts whether Minister Garrett or the educrats responsible for the draft Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework have ever read Hayek’s book – if they had, they would realise how dangerous and counter-productive it is.
The teacher performance framework, released last week, represents the most recent milestone in the Rudd/Gillard education revolution and the mania the Commonwealth Government has to micromanage schools. Even though Canberra neither owns any schools nor employs any staff, all roads lead to Canberra.
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Dry ice. Wrong in so many ways. Wrong in an 80s dance floor sort of way. Wrong in a dodgy magic tricks sort of way. Yes, it keeps things super cold. But it can also be used as a bomb.
And as a casual teacher found out the hard way, it can also burn students’ hands if you make them hold it. The NSW casual teacher has been sacked after he dared his science students to hold the -78.5 C highly compressed carbon dioxide for as long as possible. Two students were hospitalised with minor burns. One may need a skin graft.
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Right now, there are thousands of brand new PhD candidates entering universities around the country. Many of them will be highly anxious, knowing that they have a long, difficult journey ahead of them which, statistically speaking, they have less than a 75 per cent chance of completing successfully.
Emma Jane last year described doing a PhD as “childbirth for the brain”. And, while I liked her sentiment, I don’t agree that the whole process really has to be so “mind-meltingly, stomach-churningly, sleep-deprivingly difficult”.
Just as there are many things expecting or labouring mothers can do to make childbirth easier and more bearable – epidurals, controlled breathing exercises, gym balls, warm baths, happy gas, umm… taint massage – there are some simple rules Doctoral students should follow in order to deliver their baby without recourse to forceps or an episiotomy.
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In a previous life, I was a chef. Not a great one, but I do have the little certificate and scars to prove it.
The hours were long. I am sure we have all heard the horror stories of 16 hour days and 80 hour weeks so there is no need to discuss that at length. Anyhow, I decided that my future wasn’t in the kitchen, so university beckoned.
Fast forward a couple of years and university holidays have come around again. On the 11th of November last year, I went on university holidays. I will not go back until the end of February. That’s around 110 days. It is a long time. Even so, it’s apparently not quite long enough.
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Victoria might well be the Garden State but the Premier, John Brumby lives is a state of denial and it’s becoming serious.
Not content with flying off to New Delhi to placate furious Indians who fear for the safety of their kids being educated in Melbourne, he managed to anger the Indian Government by cancelling a visit to Mumbai, citing security concerns, which it seems the Indians hadn’t heard about.
That was for starters.
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