The best love and care children can have, is that offered by parents. Too often this is disregarded and overlooked.

There is a belief that early learning educators, teachers and after school carers can stand in the place of parents. A Sunday Territorian article ‘Hands on parenting is what helps children’. (April 2, 2017) touched on a truth that in these modern times is too easily discounted. Study authors Stacey Fox and Anna Olsen from the Australian National University found that, ” reaching out to children, talking with them and helping them with their homework matters more than income or background.”

This realisation was one of the revelations of this family focussed study conducted by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY).

It seems that work preoccupation can distance parents from their children. Before and after school care have become a way of life for children whose parents leave home early and arrive home late. They are often placed in vacation care during school holidays because their parents are at work.

Many parents are both preoccupied with and wearied by work, making quality time with their children during the week a rarity. While family catch-up may happen at the weekend, there is a need to manage domestic chores and get ready for the working week ahead. In this context it can become easy for children to again be overlooked. Their need for family closeness and attention may be misunderstood by parents.

According to Fox and Olsen, “children … benefit when their parents provide a positive environment for homework and play a role in school activities.” Primary school children particularly, like their parents identifying with them in school settings. Parents attending assemblies, participating in parent teacher nights, and supporting extra-curricular school activities is a highlight for their children.

According to the study, children really welcome and greatly value the first hand connection of parents with their educational development. In terms of hands on parenting, “the aspects which appear to matter most include high expectations and aspirations for children, shared reading between children and parents and family conversation.” (Fox and Olsen)

Children need room to move and develop as independent human beings. ‘Helicopter parents’ who constantly hover around children can be very stifling. They suffocate independence and dampen the decision making potential of their offspring. However, when parents are there for children, engaging with them, nurture and love are to the fore. And it is these attributes in parents their children want and need.


It seems a lot of people in parliament, particularly staffers, have lead unreal lives.

Many have been privileged in terms of their upbringing, choice of school, tertiary educational opportunities and preparation for political life by their associations.

Has this meant they are incapable of living in the real world and behaving as they should in the real world? Are their lives based on totally artificial constructs of behaviour and expectation? Are they responsible for creating the noxiousness pervading the parliamentary precinct and escaping like a poisonous gas into the wider world of awareness?

These people do not need education and to suggest they do is a cop out! They need to grow up, act responsibly and realise their belief the world fixates around them, was something taught as untrue from their early childhood school years.

They do not need ‘education’ on social behaviour. They need to apply common sense principles to life, living and interaction with others. They need to grow up or be fired.


In some respects, education in Australia has been about the cart being put before the horse. That has occurred in part because the predominate focus of Australian Primary and Secondary education has been at State and Territory level. It is only in comparatively recent times that education has taken on a more national look.

History contributed to Australian Education becoming fractured and developing along state and territory lines.

In a vast country challenged until comparatively recently by communication and distance issues, this organisation was the only real possibility. But there have also been parochial constraints. In the mid 1980’s, attempts to develop a national curriculum were thwarted by State and Territory authorities who did not want to pass educational control to a national body.

For education to take on a truly national outlook, there are three requirements. In the first instance, there needs to be a curriculum framework that embraces the whole of Australia. Secondly, teacher education should lead to national teacher registration. This would allow portability for teachers wanting to move schools across state and territory boundaries. Finally, a national curriculum should be nationally assessed.

The order in which these priorities have been considered is not logical. The National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) was introduced in 2008. NAPLAN assesses all Australian students in Years 3,5,7, and 9 for literacy and numeracy competence. Yet it was introduced as a nationwide measure of accountability, while States and Territories still held responsibly for their own curriculum delivery. Having a national curriculum prior to national assessment would have made more sense.

While we are now a fair way down the road toward universal curriculum, State and Territory authorities seem reluctant to fully embrace the concept. We contrast interestingly with many countries which have had a national curriculum for decades. It could well be that tested competencies in Australia are below comparative international standards because our curriculum has been so divided. Although State and Territory education authorities are coming together on the issue, national curriculum in many respects has a long way to go.

A third consideration ought to be the introduction of a National Teacher Registration Authority. At the moment Teacher Registration Boards (TRB’s) have State and Territory jurisdiction. A teacher wanting to move interstate has to be approved by that state’s registration board. A national board would streamline this process.

State and Territory boundaries limit educational effectiveness and are a barrier to Australia-wide outcomes. Nationalisation would introduce efficiencies and promote quality outcomes.


Caring for school environments is the duty of all users. If care is not taken, classrooms, walkways, toilets and school yards can quickly become littered and grubby. Most schools emphasise the need for students to properly dispose of rubbish. There are rubbish bins inside classrooms and buildings and strategically located around school, in toilets as well as communal areas.

It can be extraordinarily difficult for schools to maintain a clean, litter free appearance. A drive past some schools, particularly late in the afternoon, reveals a scatter of paper, plastic cups and other rubbish. A proliferation of rubbish detracts from the grounds appearance, giving the impression that all students are litterers. That is true only of of a minority.

Awareness of the need for classroom organisation and tidiness should be part of student development. In many classrooms there is a roster, assigning students to specific tasks. They might include the following:

• Cleaning whiteboards

• Delivering and collecting notes from the office

• Taking lunch orders to the canteen

• Collecting lunch orders from the canteen

• Tidying shelves and classroom storage areas

• Giving out and collecting work books

• Collecting recyclable materials.

All students take responsibility for:

• Tidy desks and personal storage areas

• Stacking their chairs at the end of the day

• Disposing of food scraps and their own rubbish into bins

• Putting litter into outside bins

• Personal hygiene including toilet flushing and hand washing

• Using classroom bins rather than floors for pencil shavings and scraps of paper.

Some would argue that attitudes of cleanliness and tidiness should be automatic. However, recognising effort and rewarding enterprise can help reinforce personal and civic attitudes. Recognition of class responsibility for care and maintenance of school appearance might include the following:

• The awarding at assembly of a mascot that ‘visits’ the tidiest classroom until the next assembly.

• Recognition of the class that looks after the verandahs and public areas adjacent.

• Giving small rewards to children caught ‘doing something good’ when it comes to environmental care.

• Presenting class or principal’s certificates to classes and children who always do the right thing when it comes to school and classroom appearance.

Schools have cleaning contracts. Contractors attend to daily and weekly cleaning together with a ‘spring clean’ during each long holiday period. However, it is up to students and those using the school to look after and take pride in their facilities. Along the way, habits of cleanliness and tidiness that should last a lifetime, are reinforced.


There is no such thing as a ‘free’ education. This has always been the case for students enrolled in private schools. However this also applies to parents of children attending government schools. Educational costs rise year on year and no families are exempt.

The average cost of schooling is rising far more quickly than reflected by the Australian cost price index. The NT News (Back -to-school trap Warning to parents racking up debt 24/1/18) confirmed that text books, stationery, shoes, uniforms and laptops are among items set to cost families over 40% more than last year. “For a typical family, that’s $829 per year.” (NT News above).

The article cautions about the dangers of buy-now-pay-later schemes which could add to the debt burdens already confronting families. According to the NT News (above) these instalment plan options are being used by around 30% of parents. A better option might be to save a weekly or monthly instalment so money is there to pay for requisites when this outlay becomes due. This would help families to avoid the stress of suddenly having to find money to cover return to school expenditure.


In recent months, a new realisation seems to be growing on those who are involved with educational decision making and the setting of priorities for students. It appears to be dawning upon us all, that there is more to education than university degrees and occupations based solely upon pure academics. That should be reassuring for those completing secondary school who are concerned that high level academic qualifications are prerequisite to every occupation in life.

So much is made of university qualifications, including batchelor and masters level degrees along with PhD’s, that little else seems to count. That is far from being the case. There are a myriad of excellent occupational opportunities available, requiring practical skills outside the scope of degree qualifications. The pity is that more is not being made known about TAFE, VET and trades when young people are considering their career options. The thrust is toward the need for upcoming tertiary age students to only consider academically focused degree courses.

Tim Pitman and Gavin Moodie, writing for ‘The Conversation’ (Supporting part time and online learners is the key to reducing university drop-out rates) revealed that the first year university drop out average for Australia across all universities is under 15%. For the NT, that attrition rate is just above 26%. This means that one in every four students has cause to re-think tertiary studies.

There are many reasons for study discontinuity and one might well be a realisation that full blown degree study is not the best option. Re-thinking career options is obviously part of this double take. It might also be that study costs and the burden of an upcoming HECS debt weigh on the conscience of students. Withdrawal from courses by March 31 in the year of enrolment, means that HECS debts are avoided.

The need for a re-think can leave students in a state of insecurity about what to do occupationally.

An option that might be considered is promoting to students the array of work opportunities available through trades training and related areas of occupational study. Our territory is desperately short of qualified people. Part of this is due to a misplaced belief that trades and apprentice based training leads to second class jobs. That is far from where being the case. Thriving communities need occupational balance and at the moment this is an area of distinct shortfall in the NT.


Women are the leaders and the key educators when it comes to the NT.

In Parliamentary terms:

On NT female leadership.

The NT Assembly (Parliament) has 25 members.

*The Chief Minister is male.

*The Deputy Chief Minister is female.

*The Opposition Leader is female.

* The Speaker is female.

* The ALP Government holds 15 seats. Eight are held by women, seven by


* There are nine ministers including the chief. Six are women.

* There are eight CLP opposition members. Three are women, five men.

* There arwe three independents, two are women.

* Of the 25 seats in the house, 12 are filled by women, 13 by men.

* Women fill all but one of the key positions in front bench roles.

Women lead the way in the NT.

To the rest of Australia: Eat your heart out.



A great deal of what happens educationally is driven by technology. Computers, iPads and other technologies have their place in supporting students. However, they should always be tools used to enhance assignment preparation and work requirements. If students rely on devices to provide spellchecking, grammatical correctness, accurate mathematical formulae and so on, they may satisfy learning requirements without understanding what they have done.

Reliance on technological assistance starts in primary school and extend all the way through to tertiary study. Indeed, the list of student requirements to be provided by parents often includes the need for an IPA or similar device to be supplied. Relying on the capabilities of iPads and computers can take away the ability to reason and think from students. Computers and iPads become a crutch on which they lean too heavily to help satisfy learning requirements. There can be nothing more dissatisfying for students, than not understanding solutions to questions that are solved by technology, rather than their own brain power.

A great deal of data, both anecdotal and empirically validated, suggests that the concentration span of young people is diminishing. Relying on technological devices can interrupt concentration. If students become overly reliant on computers as learning aids, self confidence and independence can be eroded.

Communication Basics

Listening, speaking, reading and writing are essential communication skills. Use of technology often takes the place of live conversation. Texting and messaging have their purpose, but ought not replace face-to-face speaking and listening. Correct sentence structure, including the use of punctuation, word choice, intonation and clarity should be built into verbalisation. Children also need to clearly hear messages so they understand what has been said. Unclear speech and poor listening skills can develop from lack of practice and the substitution of keyboard communication. Reading from texts may be supplemented by electronic media, but should never be totally replaced by screen reading. Nothing beats books.

Keyboard skills and the ability to electronically produce written text should never be at the expense of handwriting. Mastery of pen and paper communication is important, enabling the written word to be produced anywhere and at any time. That includes the ability to hold a pen or pencil correctly and comfortably.

Technology supports education, but in no way should it replace traditional literary and mathematical teaching and learning. Should that happen, students will be the losers.


Rather than being straightforward, modern education has become a kaleidoscope of confusion. Many graduate teachers are quickly disappointed by the realities of a teaching profession that fails to meet their preconceptions.

Rather than finding that teaching is about “teaching”, they discover there is a huge emphasis placed on testing, measurement, assessment and evaluation, often in areas outside their teaching fields. It seems the children are forever being monitored and confronted by batteries of tests.

It quickly becomes obvious to teachers that education is being driven by data. Teaching and teaching methods are dictated by data requirements.

Academic competence is important. However holistic education (the social, emotional and moral/spiritual elements) seem to be given scant attention. Graduate teachers have a strong desire to work as developers of children. Many are quickly disillusioned because education seems to be about a fairly narrow band of academic outcomes.

For many graduate teachers, the gloss of teaching soon wears off. They find themselves unable to cope with the ‘teaching for test’ emphasis that now underpins education. The brief years many spend in classrooms before resigning, are disillusioning. In turn, they may share their perceptions of the teaching profession with others, negatively influencing their thoughts and opinions.

The discounting of their observations is a hard reality for classroom practitioners to accept. Unless verified by formal testing, teacher evaluations are considered to be invalid.

Preoccupation with the formalities of testing and examination are not always priorities generated by schools. Rather, requirements are set by departmental administrators and schools have to comply. In turn, these priorities are not necessarily what administrators want, but are compelled by the demands of politicans.

Sadly, Australian education is deeply rooted in the art of comparing results at primary, secondary and tertiary level with those achieved by students in overseas systems. Often those students are from countries totally unlike Australia, but that is not taken into account. The fact that educational objectives are dictated by comparison to overseas systems is a weakness of Australian education.

Education should be about the needs of children. It should not be influenced by the desire of political leaders and key administrators to brag about how good Australian education is, compared to other systems. Many graduate teachers find themselves caught up as players in this approach. They quickly wise up, and quit the profession. Our students are the losers and perceptions of education in schools become sadly discoloured.

Children need to understand money


It is very easy in this day and age, for children to grow up without appreciating and understanding what money is all about. With transactions conducted on line, by card and through email, hard currency is being consigned to history.

Money, once concrete and easy to see, feel and use is fast becoming illusionary. No longer is currency the main item in wallets and purses. This makes it hard to share an understanding of money with children.

Teachers may conduct some activities in classrooms to offer familiarisation with hard currency. However, the exercise can be almost meaningless. Children rarely see their parents and other adults dealing in hard currency, so the concept of visible money is disappearing.

It is easy for children to grow up without understanding the value of money. It is also easy for them to grow up without understanding the meaning of debt and credit. Recent studies confirm that many people have no idea about debt and how easily it accumulates. In order to avoid growing up with a similar lack of understanding, children need to understand money.

Recent application

An application has recently been developed that may assist children to better understand the meaning and value of money. The application ‘Easy Money’ is free to download from the online Applications Store. It is user friendly and provides children with the chance to consider and understand financial issues. Saving, spending and investment are included.

The application offers scenarios posed as questions. The proposition about savings illustrates:

“How much have you saved right now?

How much will you save every month?

What percent interest do you expect to earn?

How long until you need to use the money?”

A pop-up calculator allows the user to insert data into boxes next to each question. When completed, the answer is revealed. It shows the amount banked, interest earned and total savings.

Some of the topics include:

What can I afford to buy?

How long to repay a credit card?

What is my loan repayment?

How long will it take me to save up?

How much do I need to retire?

What is the return on my investment?

‘Easy Money’ can be used by parents at home and teachers at school to help children understand and appreciate money. And it will be beneficial to them in reinforcing sound principles of money value and management.