I worry in these modern times, that children specifically and people generally, are forgetting how to hold and use manual writing tools. Printing and handwriting used to be taught in schools. No longer it seems, is that the case.

Prior to school, children would explore their imaginations on paper with crayons and pencils. Nowadays it’s all keypads, keyboards and fingers. Watching children and young people grip pencils and pens, trying go to used them, is an exercise in visual torture. They have no idea.

Neither have they have any idea in terms of letter size, shape and fluency of production when it comes to written symbols. Style is all over the place, Rafferty’s Rules apply and anything goes!

Computers are all fine. Voice technology is wonderful. But the ability to use pencil, pen and paper is backwards at a rate of knots. It is a real worry.


Too many lives that could be lived in fulsomeness and belonging bto people wgho could make a difference in this world, are cut off in the middle of the day by gun weilding Americans.

Too many children, in the bloom of life, are among those who are wantonly snuffed out. Living souls reduced to corpses.

Ninety one American lives lost to grind every day, 33,215 each year. Each year the population equivalent of Palmerson, the NT’s satellite city placed in coffins.

Americans need educating about gun control.


Are bad,
In wrong hands,
They make people sad,
Trigger pulling is so wanton,
Expunging innocent life in an instant,
Shooting sadness, inexplicable grief into the hearts,
The souls and the fibre of sad families,
Who not for an instant can begin to understand,
Why the death net should embrace them in cold clutch,
The enternal struggle to understand what motivation drives killers in plunging,
Them and so many they know into the river of everlasting despair,
Is a phenomena that surely lacks logic and cannot be logically, humanistically understood,
Fie upon you people of the United States for your preoccupation with gun power.



It is unfair and alarming that minorities can colour opinions held for majorities. This is particularly the case for children and young people.

Popular media constantly saturates viewing, listening and reading time with stories about misdemeanours and crime attributable to young people. U Tube, Facebook and social media often embellish these stories of wrongdoing. Most run stories about children and young people, focus on negative behaviour. Assaults, unlawful entry, property damage and destruction headline these reports. That has again been highlighted in the NT and Australia by media reporting during the recent school holiday period.

An alarming outcome of this focus is that perceptions held for every young person becomes distorted. The community can lose respect for all young people because of the actions of a minority. To regard them all in this way would be a gross misinterpretation.

The Reality

The majority of young people have a positive outlook on life and are keen to succeed. From primary school through to secondary and tertiary years, most are motivated and keen to do their very best. They are respected by teachers, supported by parents and are positive generational ambassadors. They are people of fine character, building solid academic, social, emotional and moral foundations.

Many undertake part time work in the retail trade. They are shelf packers, check out attendants, floor cleaners and shopping trolley retrievers for supermarkets and stores. Some involve in the hospitality industry, working after school hours and at weekends. Some may fritter their earnings, but many save for a purpose. That might be for a car, to defray tertiary education costs or to fund travel.

Young people of all ages devote time to sporting activities, including participation and volunteering as coaches and umpires. Others involve in artistic or cultural pursuits gaining confidence and skill. Self-improvement and community service is manifest in other ways. Children join scouts, guides, junior police rangers, tae-kwon-do and karate groups, St. John Ambulance and similar organisations. A large percentage go on to become leaders and instructors of these groups, demonstrating their commitment to self-betterment and community good.

We can but hope that young people who have been involved in wrongful behaviour come to a point of self-realisation and correction. Support from families and authorities helps, but ultimately character change has to come from within.

In overall terms and as a senior citizen, I believe the future of the Territory is in the capable hands of fine young people. They deserve our encouragement, support, recognition and appreciation.


I fully understand the notion of fees being charged for the education of children. At times there is controversy over whether government’s should fund private schools in any way or whether their contribution should be for public schools alone.

My personal feeling is that a percentage of the public purse being contributed to private schools is fine. After all, most parents are taxpayers and have a right of school choice. That being so, the benefit of educational dollars should be holistically and not sectionally shared.

However, the notion of fees charged on top of government contribution by schools needs consideration. If fees are ‘over the top exorbitant ‘ then schools have it wrong/

I think that charging fees to huge excess of need is a miscarriage of what should be about the serious education of young people. Certainly, schools have to have enough in the way of assets to carry contingencies and overcome shortfalls. However, if they are primarily in the game to make money for sponsors unknown or to boost fat bank accounts, then that is wrong. If they practice undue leverage on parents in order to accumulate funds for ‘boasting’ capital works that are more about image than need, that is also wrong.


Oral Communication is so important. These days the skills associated with oral expression are too often overlooked. Consider the following as elements that need to become ingrained into practice.




* Speech flow, including pitch, rhythm and speed.

* ‘Ah’s’, ‘um’s’, ‘er’s’, ‘aw’s’, and other speech fillers.

* ‘okay’ at start or end of sentences.
* ‘guys’ as a word of address to a mixed audience.
* ‘gonna’ rather than ‘going to’.
* Don’t overdo ‘so’, particularly as a never ending joining word.
* ‘could, could’ (double clutching)
* ‘I was, I was’ (double clutching)
* ‘Wh, when’ and similar double vocal movements.
* ‘and, um’; ‘um and so’; ‘you know’ ad infinitum.
* ‘um and or” ‘um it’s it’s …’.
* ‘aaaand’; ‘o n e’ (word stretching).

* Recognising and using punctuation.

* PRONUNCIATION and word usage

* A CONVERSATIONAL VOICE is engaging. A listening audience is reassured to hear program presenters speaking in a relaxed manner. Many listeners are working through the hassles of the day. A calm and relaxed manner coming at them over the airwaves is relaxing and reassuring.

* Using pause, allowing your audience time to digest and reflect on what you have said.
* Projection and outreach, avoiding ear burst and fade-out, which imposes ear strain.
* Use words to paint pictures, stimulating the listener’s imagination. Successful radio and media communications are those which, by their appeal, draw listeners to programs.
* If working on a presentation from within the broadcast studio, IMAGINE you have people with you as guests. Work as a radio presenter in the same way you would if others were there.


* Look at people. Don’t look over them, under them or around them.
* Engage people individually and collectively through eye contact. Rest on individuals and cover the audience.
* Make your eyes friendly, encouraging and inviting.
* Avoid flat or hostile eyes.
* Eyes are the most important parts of the anatomy when it comes to gesture.


* Compatible with the presenter and magnifying of speech.
* Gesture is a tool that can help emphasise and reinforce points.
* Overdoing gesture can undermine conversation because recipients are studying aspects of body language rather than listening to what is being said.

Avoid accidental gesture which is off-putting. These might include the following:

* Wagging a cordless microphone while speaking.
* Rocking from one foot to the other or swaying from the waist.
* Neck movement which is out of sync with general movement
* Eye contact which has you speaking in one direction, looking in another.
* Randomly putting on and taking off spectacles.
* Holding and wagging or twirling glasses while speaking.
* Doing similar with a pen, lazar pointer or some other prop.
* Pulling at collar, sleeves or any other aspect of apparel.


* Plan your interview so it flows logically. How do you want it to begin, develop and conclude.
* Be aware of time and ‘Commanding’ the program; don’t be usurped and don’t allow your agenda to be hijacked. Time awareness is essential.


* Collaboration with like minded professionals is valuable and enriching.
* From collaboration grows synergy, the collective energy that is enhancing. It uplifts those who are working together in occupational fields.

* Those working in isolation can be left behind because collaboration is increasingly a strategy whereby we work to develop our professional ethos.


Here in the NT (Australia) schools are all about ‘business’, ‘budget management’ and worry about the principles of management are in my opinion detracting from educational leadership. From what I read, this is an issue that engages schools and systems around the world.

We need to consider two strands of operational function within schools, the educational leadership and the administrative streams. Educational leadership should attract the Principal salary, the administrative stream should be paid at a salary level commensurate with that of a Vice-Principal. I recently published a paper at on the subject (11 December 2014 ‘Schools Preoccupied with Money’. Educational disconnect with teaching and learning because of business priority is a real worry.



During school holiday periods, our community worries as to how young people are going to spend their time during their time away from the classroom.

The police gear up for an expected increase in everything from misdemeanour to property crime. These activities attract a small minority of young people. City and town councils prepare an array of activities that might be appealing to children and adolescents.

Cartoonists offer a humorous take on the reluctant acceptance of school holidays by parents. Media stories also cover the issue of challenges they face in having to have to find extra time for their children during holiday periods. Much is made of their difficulty in having to juggle work commitments with care for their offspring.

Employment and family priorities juxtapose on parents, who want to do the right thing at home and work.

Work is a major issue. Several decades ago with only one parent working, children were more ably provided for at home during holiday periods. Changing family circumstances has lead to reliance on organisational and agency support to provide holiday care.

While closed for regular lessons, there is pressure on schools to provide meaningful activities for children during these weeks. Expectations range from duty of care, to providing parents with child minding alternatives. Many schools provide outside school hours care during the school year, extending their programs to include vacation care. These programs are fully subscribed almost as soon as applications for holiday care are invited.

During holiday periods, some sporting groups offer extended activities for young people. Community based organisations including the YMCA design programs likely to appeal.


Generation X and Y adults, when children, could play outdoors without supervision in a relatively safe and secure environment. During holidays, they would go for long walks, bike rides or enjoy extended hours of play in parks and public places. This included unaccompanied visits to shops and cinemas.

Safety and security issues have changed this free and easy approach to outdoor and independent activities. Because of these concerns, parents and society no longer condone unsupervised activities. Independence for children and young people has been curtailed.

The holiday weeks are always welcomed by students. But there have been significant changes to the way they can spend time away from school. Those changes are more about necessity than desire.


A recent media story confirmed that technology is being promoted as an essential and necessary learning tool. This should be a focus for younger and younger children. An Australian preschool was reported as requiring enrolled children to bring their own devices (BYOD) for use within their programs. The infusion of technology into learning has been moving down the grades and is now inserting itself into the earliest years of learning.

Australian curriculum authorities are recognising IT by inserting technological skills, including programming, into learning requirement for students from Year Five upward. I would suggest that in time, the formalisation of an IT curriculum will reach into Middle Primary and Early Childhood Years.

What really counts

This focus impacts upon children, their parents and teachers. Rather than young children being ‘IT ready’, it would be far better if they were prepared for life by greater attention to necessary but often discounted personal needs. Overlooking the foundational needs of development, means children beginning their formal education may have significant personal readiness deficits.


It is a distinct and continuing concern to me that so many teachers and those working in schools, absolutely long for the day they can retire. I have known educators who are looking forward to their last day of teaching, anywhere up to a decade from that eventuality. These are teachers and leaders who are locked into the teaching profession by age. They are too old to jump ship and go into some other occupational area. This means they carry on by sufferance.

Many educators of more youthful years, with keen desire to teach and make a difference, realise their profession is more about accountability and justification than it is about teaching and developing students in a holistic manner. They come to understand that students are pawns in the system, rather than being main players. So they leave, glad to have a chance to exit.

There are students, too, who resent having to stay at school until their late teens because that is the government’s way of keeping them from being unemployment statistics. They have to be there; they don’t want to be there. That does not help them, their peers or teachers.

The stampede to the Education departure gate is a sad systemic manifestation.


Schools have to be increasingly aware of food allergy issues. Nut allergies are of particular concern. It seems more and more children are becoming nut sensitive. Recess and lunch box contents can be an issue.

“With severe allergies on the rise, no childcare centre, pre-school or school can afford to be uninformed about the risks to children in their care. They need to arm themselves with information on food allergy and anaphylaxis and create environments that are safer for all.” (Allergy and Anaphylaxis Aust. Website)

Until about 20 years ago, very few schools had policies that considered the risk of food allergies. This has changed. Most schools, particularly preschools in primary’s have policies relating to allergic sensitivities that can confront children.

The most common of these allergies is that relating to the susceptibility of some children to fall violently ill, if they come into contact with nuts. Many schools advertise that they are “nut free zones”. Parents are frequently asked to take into account the fact that foods including nuts and sandwich spreads containing nuts should not be included in children’s recesses and lunches.

While this is restrictive parents for the most part accept that nut contamination could have far reaching consequences for susceptible children.

Two way awareness

It is important for care and caution to be a two way process. Children who are nut allergic should understand their condition. It’s important that they take care to steer clear of any food danger. I believe the children from very young ages, including those in preschool, should be aware of the need for self-preservation.

From time to time there is a worry that children suffering from allergies might be teased or even threatened with contamination. This is usually an unnecessary fear. One of the qualities demonstrated by children is a genuine empathy and care for those whose circumstances are confronted in this way. It’s wise for teachers and children in all classes to be aware of children who may suffer from allergic reaction to nuts.

Schools in which all staff and therefore students are aware of an allergy situation can offer support. A further safeguard is for teachers and school support staff to have epipen training so this can be administered in the case of an emergency.

Nut consciousness and allergy awareness is the part and parcel of modern education. It’s just another duty of care responsibility existing for schools and staff. That duty is helped when parents and students cooperate to help make school environments safe, secure places for all students.