BANDWAGGONING ON ABORIGINAL ISSUES IS SO VERY WRONG

Making whoopee on indigenous issues is so wrong

I was the first graduate from the Mount Lawley College of Advanced Education (now part of Edith Cowan University) I earned a “Post Graduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies” a course which focussed exclusively on Indigenous Australians. My graduate certificate in marked “Number 1”.  That was in 1976.

Over many years, that learning stood me in good stead as a person, teacher and school principal.  It helped me in my guidance of others and supported me in understanding important situations that focus on cross-cultural language and relationships. It has always helped me in terms of sifting the grain from the chaff, the wheat  from the tares on this important issue.

One of the things I abhor most, is knowing of people who use indigenous issues as a bandwagon for self promotion. They include both indigenous and non indigenous persons. Big-noting for the purpose of self aggrandisement on this critically important issue is a sin.

THANK YOU NT – AND ALL – TEACHERS

‘THANK YOU’ TEACHERS

This Friday, October 28 is being celebrated as World Teachers’ Day. Territory teachers will be recognised and thanked at functions in Darwin, Palmerston, Alice Springs, Katherine, Nhulunbuy and at smaller centres around the NT. Individual schools, their students and communities will also celebrate their teachers and school support staff. This is well deserved.

Teachers and school staff members have enormous responsibilities. High-level expectations are held for them. Teachers are people responsible for a great deal that goes beyond the academics of teaching and learning. They are advisors, counsellors and friends, responsible for social, emotional and moral aspects of development in young people. They share a real partnership with parents and primary caregivers in the nurturing of this world’s most precious resource – our children.

Dispelling Myths

There are two everlasting myths about teaching that need to be dispelled.

The first is that teachers work a six hour day, five days a week, for forty weeks each year. The amount of time teachers spend “on tasks” over and above that time means the public is only aware of the “tip of the iceberg”. Hours of additional planning and preparation go into teaching. Instruction is followed by assessment, upon which revision and extension programs are based.

The second myth is that teachers focus only on academics. Although the “3Rs” are very important there is a great deal more to the development of children than ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic’.

The aim of school educators is to work with parents to develop well rounded students. Young people need both confidence and skill to master the challenges they will face. Sincere educators offer children the chance to succeed, by growing up to become confident, competent adults.

Recognising Northern Territory Teachers

The Northern Territory Government, the Department of Education, the Northern Territory Independent Schools Association’s and others will recognise teachers and school support workers for the contribution they make to our community. This once a year celebration recognises the effort, care and commitment teachers and staff bring to work every day.

Celebrations on Friday will enable the NT community to appreciate teachers, support staff and others connected with education across the length and breadth of the Territory. This recognition is richly deserved.

There can be no greater or more significant work than what is done by staff in our schools. The destiny of our children and young people of today, the leaders of tomorrow’s world, is largely in their hands.

THANK YOU.

Making whoopee on indigenous issues is so wrong

I was the first graduate from the Mount Lawley College of Advanced Education (now part of Edith Cowan University) course in what for me became a source of great career preparation and help.

“Post Graduate Diploma in Intercultural Studies” which focussed exclusively on Indigenous Australians. My graduate certificate in marked “Number 1”. That was in 1976.

Over many years, that learning stood me in good stead as a person, teacher and school principal. It helped me in my guidance of others and supported me in understanding important situations that focus on cross-cultural language and relationships. It has always helped me in terms of sifting the grain from the chaff, the wheat from the tares on this important issue.

One of the things I abhor most, is knowing of people who use indigenous issues as a bandwagon for self promotion. They include both indigenous and non indigenous persons. Big-noting for the purpose of self aggrandisement on this critically important issue is a sin.

NT CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL

What you report is right Lia.

However, the burgeoning nature of crime in the NT has been on an upward trend, almost relentlessly, for the past three decades. It has only ever become worse and worse. The issues of crime are now involving the children of parents who were children back then, many engaged in wrongdoing. This is a generational matter.

Governments of both persuasions have only ever tinkered around the edges of the issue and have been unable or unwilling to go to the root cause of youth crime.

During the mid 1990’s, I wrote two pieces which were published in the NT News under the heading of “Darwin: a city of victims”. It WAS bad then but is infinitely worse now. Even so, the issues we confront in the Top End pale into insignificance compared to crime in Alice Springs and Tennant Creek.

One thing is for certain. While either party is in opposition, that party goes hard on combatting the issue of crime. But once elected to government, that same party finds itself to be impotent in dealing with the issue.

The after dark social agenda is a proactive one, set by criminals both young and not so young. Authorities are reduced to being reactive in terms of dealing with the problem.

God help Darwin and the NT in a decade from now.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN EDUCATION

Once upon a time in Education

Listening was an important attribute instilled as an attribute enhancing comprehension and understanding.

Handwriting was taught and legibility encouraged.

Children learned about words through phonetic study.

Oral reading to the teacher and within groups lead to fluency when sharing text. Discussion within groups and shared conversation built understanding about meaning of the written word.

Children learned tables and mathematical formulae. They developed the ability to carry out mental computation and were dexterous without the need for calculator assistance.

Grammar was studied. Rules relating to the English language and usage were studied and understood.

Spelling was an essential subject. Words and their usage was an important part of study.

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Manners and deportment which were developed by parents speaking with and modelling to their students, were reinforced and consolidated while children were at school.

TEACHING AND CURRICULUM

CURRICULUM CHANGE AND TEACHING EXPERTISE

I say to those with a desire to have ‘the best’ becoming teachers of specialist subjects, “good luck in finding the teaching candidates you want.”

There is a lot that causes disaffection about the profession. Pay rates are unappealing, men are discouraged from teaching because of the threat of being accused of socially inappropriate conduct, while parents and students no longer have the level of respect for teachers that once existed.

Teacher accountabilities and responsibilities have become unwieldy while changes in curriculum and teaching focus are unappealing to older, more conservative teachers.

And remember that it is NOT teachers in classrooms who are responsible for stupid and irresponsible curriculum changes and the watering down of teaching expectations while upping data, monitoring and recording requirements Teachers and schools are the victims of nonsensical changes – along with students. Change comes from about, from the AITSL, ‘experts’ government and others. These are people who want student accomplishment statistics to look good. They are also the people who are all about political correctness and educational fashion.

Teaching is in a watershed position.

MALE TEACHERS ON THE ROAD TO EXTINCTION Part Four

The Future for Male Teachers Is Not Rosy

There is an increasing focus on male teacher vulnerability but tackling the issue has been, at best, oblique. Deflecting the issue is no way of handling its challenge. At some stage – hopefully sooner rather than later – a considered response to the issue by senior managers will be necessary. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. In an age where litigation is increasingly common, the threat to male teacher integrity is likely to become more pronounced.

There are many factors that impinge on the issue of school staffing. Conversations with teachers reveal that the tension of being a vulnerable group weighs heavily on the minds of remaining male educators. I once had an excellent male teacher come to me saying he was resigning because of the weight of this perception. An outstanding teacher was forever lost to the profession.

The problem of the male teacher shortage is one that will rapidly worsen in the near future, given the ageing teaching profession and the imminent retirement of large number of existing male teachers. Unless something is done, primary schools will soon be staffed almost entirely by women.

Female teachers are valued educators and do a great job. However, there is a need for gender balance within schools for the sake of organisational equilibrium. The worry is that we are sadly out of balance.

MALE TEACHERS ON THE ROAD TO EXTINCTION Part Three

Diet of Male Dysfunctionalism

The community at large is fed a bountiful print, radio and TV diet of stories about male teacher dysfunctionalism. There has been, and continues to be, a plethora of stories alleging interference with, and abuse of, children by male teachers. Sadly, some instances of infringement and violation against children and students are proven in courts. However, a significant percentage of allegations leading to court action are found to be baseless.

For those who have been tried, ‘legal’ acquittal does not negate the associated moral perception and social indignation. Those found ‘not guilty’ by courts and those who never go to court because charges are dropped, are left feeling tainted. In the minds of the wrongfully accused, the damage to their reputations is everlasting.

Children and students are increasingly aware of their rights to care and protection. ‘Stranger danger’, the ‘Kid’s Helpline’ and similar strategies are filling what, historically, has been an information void. It’s important that children do understand their rights and the respect that is due to them. Information from student disclosures, however, needs to be carefully checked before action is taken. If the information offered is accepted without verification, with allegations subsequently found to be untrue, then the accused is violated.

The Need for Human Warmth

Male teachers face a real dilemma. It’s no secret that primary children, particularly younger ones, often seek to be physically close to their teachers. Gripping the hands of teachers, giving teachers cuddles, wanting to sit on teachers’ laps are manifestations of this deep-seated human need. Female teachers seem to be less at risk in this situation than males. Males may want to respond to children with humanity warmth and empathy, but are warned off by a deep societal frown.

By contrast, middle-aged female teachers are often regarded in a ‘grandmotherly’ way. It seems somehow much more socially acceptable for them to respond to the affection of children. A male teacher of the same age has to be much more circumspect, lest his actions be interpreted as those of a ‘dirty old man’.

The challenge is increasingly exacerbated by the phenomena of single parent families. Single mothers often ask that, if possible, their children be placed with a male teacher, for the sake of masculine role modeling. The scenario can become one that creates an acute conflict within the mind of the male teacher.

To be continued.

MALE TEACHERS ON THE ROAD TO EXTINCTION Part two

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but a gender balance of that nature is a rarity. The ratio of male-to-female teachers in Australian primary schools these days is 1:27. At 1:9 in high schools, the situation is just a little better, but still, 90% of the staff are women. At Leanyer School where I was Principal for 20 years, we had at best five male members of more than 30 staff. There are some schools where the only male on staff is the janitor!

Where have all the male teachers gone, and why? Male primary teachers are an almost extinct species. Men in teacher training at all levels ar hi e rare. More and more qualified and practising male teachers are leaving for other apparently less stressful occupations.

Historical Reasons

There are historical reasons for the perceived unattractiveness of primary teaching to men. They centre on the perceptions of salary, status, community regard and an inherent idea that men working with children runs counter to the male psyche. The notion of ‘macho’ and the nurture of children seem somehow to be incongruent. This reasoning is somewhat mythical. Maybe it’s even ‘claptrap’! To hang the diminishment of the male teaching species on such ideas is illogical. But it does nothing to ease a very real situation, that there are now very few male teachers, particularly in primary schools.

Men Under Siege

I have no doubt that male teachers in primary schools are under siege. Along with fellow educators, I study the media’s coverage of our profession. While the media is interpretative, and accuracy sometimes skewed, it still reflects the perceptions generally held by society of social institutions and its managers.