This is crazy. Serial killer crazy.
A Geelong school has been slammed for giving students a bizarre serial killer assignment, where tasks included ‘create a serial killer board game’ and ‘write a rap about serial killers’.
What’s crazy in your worlds today?
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I don’t think I’m old-fashioned, but I was quite saddened to see that an Adelaide high school had hawked its entire library collection - 10,000 books - to charity.
It decided so few students were now borrowing books that it would prefer to ditch the whole collection than bother with its upkeep. Good get for the charity, but I think the students have been ripped off.
Sure, it makes sense to get rid of the texts books that have been moulding on high shelves for decades, or are so outdated that they still have maps of the Soviet Union - but Every Single Book? Even the non-fiction, take-home novels?
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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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If you had to rank the most important professions, teaching would be right up the top of the list. There is something noble about entering a profession which offers comparatively low rates for so vital a service as preparing children for a productive working life and a rounded social and intellectual life.
The teachers who most impress me are those who choose to work in the toughest public schools, where the idealised view of teaching spelled out above jars with the reality that “teaching” probably feels more like child-minding, with dysfunctional parenting and the absence of male role models in the family home leaving classrooms looking more like crèches for young adults who still act like little kids.
I was talking to a mate this week who also attended a fairly standard public school. She was saying that she can’t remember too many bad teachers from her school days, but will always remember the many excellent teachers she had. It’s an assessment which gels with my experience at a state school, where so many teachers went the extra yard, often outside of school hours, not just for kids who wanted to learn but also for those who did not.
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Her name was Honey and she came to live with my family for a few weeks in 1979. I was enchanted by her exotic name, the swing of silken hair down her back. She was the big sister I’d always wanted.
My brothers and I had plenty of add-on siblings over the years. Joanne, who stayed for several months; the three-week-old baby whose mother attempted suicide. Mum never explained why or how they came. Instead, she set to baking double batches of biscuits and reloading the washing machine. Taking in foster kids was our normal.
Years later, my mum still works as a special needs teacher. It’s seen her bitten, punched and a victim of theft. But she’s also been held, hugged and relied upon by families whose challenging days bleed into exhausting nights. Parents and former students stop her in the street, all bearing the legacy of her kindness.
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There were six of us and we were around 10 years old. We had come together for Alice’s birthday and pretty much left to our own devices.
It was Alice’s idea to go to their attic. Attics were something the Secret Seven might explore - they did not exist in the houses I frequented. So Alice had already scored points with this plan. Little did I know the experiential gold that awaited.
Safely up the ladder, we clustered around her to see the reason for our ascent. There, in several old filing boxes, was at least a decade’s worth of Playboy, carefully stored away by Alice’s taciturn father.
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It’s Dominique Goode’s first day of school. She’s wearing a pretty fuchsia dress and her brown hair is in a bun decorated with a sparkly butterfly clip. She walks into her kindergarten class with twenty six new students, one line of boys and one line of girls. Inside, Dominique puts on a bright orange name tag.
“Hands up if you can see Miss Goode’s name tag around her neck?” she asks the children who sit cross legged on the floor before her. All the hands shoot up.
Today is Miss Goode’s first day as a teacher as well as her students’ first day of formal education. She graduated from university last year and this is day one at Sacred Heart Primary School in Villawood in Sydney’s West.
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In the mid 1990s the teachers credit union Satisfac came up with a kindly and seemingly innocent idea to celebrate the excellent work of its teacher members.
The credit union, which historically had served teachers but like many other institutions now has a wide customer base, decided that to recognise the role of the teaching profession in its own development it would establish an annual awards event called The Best Teacher Awards.
But when the awards were initially proposed the reaction from the teachers union was one of outrage and dismay. Satisfac was told in no uncertain terms to shelve the idea, with the union arguing it was the height of impertinence for a credit union – or anyone else for that matter – to declare that some teachers were better than others.
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The release of My School data as part of the Rudd Government’s ‘Education Revolution’ begs the question about a key issue in improving classroom performance – teacher standards and school-based professional culture.
We should pay teachers more and be seeking to attract more of our best young people into teaching. But we also need to address what is usually un-discussable industrially: poorly performing and unprofessional teachers in some schools.
When the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, reviews the data on classroom performance, more funding should not be the only response to target underperforming schools. Helping Principals shape high performance professional school culture will be just as important.
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Great news today with Australian born molecular biologist Professor Elizabeth Blackburn being awarded the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine.
Professor Blackburn becomes the first ever Australian woman to be awarded the prize in any category and the 36th woman ever out of 789 individuals to win the award.
Like most Australians I had never heard of Blackburn or her amazing research before today, but it now appears we are in clambering with America to claim her as one of our own.
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