Reflecting on Covid

Covid Thoughts

Language understanding may be an issue but is being overstated. People in the eight LGA’s in Sydney and elsewhere around Australia have a very good idea about what is happening.

Deliberate defiance and outright disobedience are characteristics of citizen response to Covid entreaties by Government, Health Department staff and community leaders of the various ethnic groups.

Incitement of disobedience and the transmission of misinformation by persons misusing social media is malicious and damaging. Those responsible deserve severe punishment.

Repatriation issues are incomprehensible. Eighteen months ago, 32,000 wanted home. Since then more than 400,000 people have come back and the waiting list is 38,000.

Voluntary vaccination is a disaster. Unless excused by a medical certificate, vaccination should be compulsory. Those refusing point blank to be vaccinated should not have medical priority if infected by Covid.

The Federal Government should be responsible for all quarantining and MUST build dedicated facilities to house those undertaking quarantine. Notwithstanding Covid, these facilities should be constructed in all states and not in major population centres. There will be future worldwide epidermic and we need to pay for those. This preparation should be a Federal Government priority. Costs might be covered for construction by garnishing the Good and Services Tax payments made to each state and territory. A fund should be set up to construct and manage quarantine operations

in the same way as a futures fund.

A levy should be placed on all Australians going overseas either as tourists, or to take up occupational appointments. The levy should go into fund to be drawn upon in the event of future pandemics requiring repatriation of people to Australia. I would suggest an amount of at least $50 per person per trip (2021 values) to go into this fund, with the contribution being considered for personal taxation deduction.

The fund would be administered by the Federal Government with travel agencies/airlines being responsible for its collection.

Questionable Educational Change

Content on understanding key learning rudiments in maths and language has been downgraded.

Impressionistic and interpretive learning has come to the fore.

European history and literature is being moved to the backburner.

Everything indigenous is increasingly front and centre of learning.

It seems that less and less is being taught at schools because teachers are increasingly occupied with accountability and recording requirements. More and more key learning requirements are being pushed into students as homework requirements.

Blurred learning is justified by not failing students; competition between students is discouraged, and reports are long on words and short on meaning.

Data compilation including recording, drives teaching and learning strategies. Data is the king of the educational castle.

Schools and staff seem to have less and less influence in driving educational contexts. Educational direction and priorities are set from on high. Education at school level is reactive rather than proactive.

“Why is Grandma Here?”

There is an advertisement of television to do with a brand of vehicle. Grandma comes visiting and parents after asking why she is there, stand and watch with incredulity as their parents speed off in the new car to enjoy a holiday without their disappointed children. No holiday for them. They are left in the care of their Grandmother.

The connotations of the advertisement reflect the let down feeling of children and the almost euphoric joy of their parents freed from the shackles of parental responsibility.

While the ‘getaway’ might have been a focus on the vehicle, in real life many parents shed their children during holidays, leaving them in the care of others. This does little for the way children ultimately come to respect and regard their parents. During their formative years, their experiences of visiting places around Australia and overseas are restricted because they are left at home while their parents gallivant.

Children deserve to grow up within their immediate family groups. Growing up in this way leads to growing together so that as parents age and children reach adulthood, a mature and close family relationship remains in place.

Escaping parents like those depicted in the advertisement may well become lonely parents when their children leave home and don’t look back upon a life they are glad to escape.

Wonderful Day Wish

I hope today goes well for everyone, with celebrations outweighing challenges.

I hope you are caught doing something good and in turn are caught by others who appreciate your positive contributions. I hope you give and receive bouquets and that brickbats are not on show.

I hope molehills are quashed and do not turn into mountains. May the day be one of upstream management and May the intrinsic rewards of satisfaction and fulfillment be showered on you and yours.

Teacher Training is so Important

There is often a reluctance on the part of professionals within organisations to participate in training the next generation of people coming through to positions within those organisations.

This can be particularly evident with teaching. If and when asked, many schools are reluctant to take teachers in training for classroom practice.

Universities are often on the lookout for schools willing to participate in training programs. That reluctance is sometimes due to the fact that generous allowance is paid to schools and or teachers in classrooms supervising trainee teachers are not as generous as what might of been the case. In other situations, schools and staff can sometimes use teacher training students in inappropriate roles.

It is critical that schools participate in preparing our next generation of teachers for classrooms. If training is inhibited because of the lack of placement opportunity, that does not augur well for either the profession and its reputation or for students who are going to be taught by those teachers to graduate in future years.

A corollary to this issue is that if students in training are made to feel unwelcome, unwanted, or a burden this hardly impacts positively for their appreciation of the profession they are preparing to enter. It could well be a reason for why people in training leave before training is completed!.

Remember too, that up tho 60% of teacher graduates quit in their first five years of teaching.

Principals, members of leadership teams, classroom teachers and school staff members must continue to support training teachers into perpetuity. They should after all remember that when they were training, support was offered to them during these formative years. Participation in teacher education programs for teachers in training is really all about payback. And guaranteeing the future of schooling for students, many not yet born

OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (24)

We had some exciting and meaningful times at Warburton, in what amounted to extension programs aimed at extending and enriching student experiences. One of the most memorable was an overnight camp we organised at a location out of Warburton. This involved taking food for a number of meals and planning with the community for children to spend the night away from their home camps. The interaction between students and their relaxed manner with each other was a highlight of the brief time we spent in that outdoors situation.

Years later I reflected on the fact that the limitations usually adhered to, in terms of relationships, had not manifest themselves in any way during that time. Neither were these relationship elements particularly obvious in classroom contexts.

(There are two other commonly held belief points which I felt, from personal interactions with students, little more than myths. The first was that individual children did not like praise for work well done, because they preferred to be be identified as members of groups rather than in a singular context. Children often worked in groups and collective appreciation was an element of recognition. However, I never found individual students reluctant to accept praise.

The other enjoinder offered was not to ask children to look you in the eye, because that was shameful for them. They preferred to look down or look away when talking, averting facial contract. I found that not to be the case, not only at Warburton but in association with Aboriginal children in other locations. Sometimes our predispositions to accepting particular and somewhat negative viewpoints, can minimise our effectiveness as educators in working to develop personality traits and characteristics in children.)

Swimming and water experience opportunities were limited by the dry nature of the country in which we were living. There was a windmill about 2 kilometres to the east of Warburton which pumped everlastingly into a 15,000 litre tank. On occasion, I would take a class of students on a walk to the mill. They would climb up into the talk and have a great time in this makeshift swimming pool. The more daring among the group would climb to the top of the frame supporting the mill, then jump off, ‘bom shelling’ into the tank. There were no accidents or injuries for children seemed to have an uncanny sense about safety and self preservation. (Imagine the trouble one would be in these days, if such an activity was undertaken.)

A most memorable swimming excursion was to a waterhole we hard of, located a good number of kilometres to the south-west of Warburton. Rainfall had created the waterhole. We had a mini-make, new at the beginning of 1974, which we had shipped up to Warburton on the TNT transport. I loaded 19 (yes, nineteen) young people on the Moke and at a very slow speed, we set out for the waterhole. On occasion, road conditions made transport impossible so students would help the Moke through the short intervals of difficult terrain. We made it there and back with children having a great time in the water. (Once more, you would not be game to undertake such an outing these days for fear of offending OH and S regulations.)

No Show and Tardiness mean Lost Learning

TRANSIENT AND LATE STUDENTS

Beware the student who is often late. Your school may have policies dealing with late arrivals. Notification to the front office, if required, need to be followed. Careful marking of the roll also helps to identify children who have a habit of being late to school.

Children who are frequently late do little for their educational opportunities and can detract from the learning entitlement of others. This is because teachers have to go over what has been covered in order to bring latecomers up to date. Teachers may elect to catch children up in their own time. However, this takes away from their refreshment breaks and down time.

One method that might be employed is assigning worksheets to children who are late, with the requirement that missed activities be done as a part of homework tasks. This has the added benefit of making parents or carers aware of the problem. Children could also be required to undertake catch up activities in the school library during recess or lunch time.

Lateness means lost learning. The habit of tardiness needs to be overcome with regularity being the norm.

Not accepting lateness and positively recognising those who are regular and punctual attenders can be a wise move. There are various ways of managing this including certification for those students who have perfect attendance and punctuality records. These students might be recognised at class or whole school level. One of the very best ways of helping to overcome poor attendance is recognising those who are regular always punctual and on time.

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Don’t Force Leaning on Young Children

DON’T FORCE UNDERSTANDING

We need to be very careful that the development of young children is not detrimental. Little children need time to absorb and to understand the world into which they are growing. In these modern times, that world is increasingly complex and difficult to understand. There is a tendency on the part of many to advocate the ‘forcing’ of learning and understanding on children before they are mature enough to grasp concepts.

Early Childhood supplements in the NT News and the Suns a few years ago, point to the wisdom of gradually presenting learning opportunities to children. Articles in these supplements laid stress on the importance of play and providing relaxed, enjoyable places of learning for young children. The building within them of a desire to learn and having confidence in their learning, will not come if unduly hastened. ‘Force feeding’ knowledge into children goes against both common sense and espoused recommendations.

A significant point made in the Suns EC supplement was that ‘Play makes a lasting impact’. That article went on to confirm that “skills developed through quality early childhood education last a lifetime.” The critical importance of quality parenting, well prepared educators and empathetic schools count for a lot, in terms of young children growing up.

Against this backdrop of thoughtful reflection about development, come Australian Government directives that amount to premature expectation and force feeding of knowledge beyond the ability of young children to comprehend.

There are two recent examples of this imposition. The first was Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s decision that all preschool children in Australia should be introduced to the Japanese Language. How can little children possibly comprehend ‘Japan’ and the ‘why’ of this language, when they are still in the initial stages of literacy development in our mother tongue. A directive like this is confusing for them and distorts their key educational needs.

When Prime Minister. Malcolm Turnbull decided that ” three year olds in childcare and students from preschool … upwards will be taught about suicide awareness and mental health … .” ( “Aussie youngsters get mental health boost’, NT News, 8.6.17) Specific suicide discussion could happen with children as young as 8 years of age. Introducing children to complexities beyond their comprehensive ability poses distinct risks. It is far better to provide for the emergence of happiness and satisfaction through carefully structured learning experiences, than attempting to educate through hastily conceived programs.