Back to basics curriculum in Aussie schools

After more than forty years of letting our school pupils down, the Australian Government wants to to go back to the good old days when reading, writing and arithmetic mattered. So it has introduced a new curriculum which will actually include correct spelling and grammar because nowadays hardly anyone can read or write properly. (Some cynics will say that it doesn’t matter as long as the pupil has a dexterous thumb and a mobile phone.)

I believe there should be a genuine Sorry Day in our schools. Educators who advocated the unrealistic Wyndham Scheme or Comprehensive Schools notion should apologise to the two generation of school leavers who can’t express themselves in anything resembling good English today.

It was not the teachers’ fault that the basics were abandoned. We weren’t allowed to correct spelling mistakes in case our students became upset. We had to compliment our pupils instead for being creative in their expression.

This is where political correctness in education reared its ugly head.

We had to pretend that everyone had equal scholastic ability. Slow learners and fast learners were crammed together in the one class as if either group would not notice the difference. There was to be no streaming of classes but I see now that streaming has crept back. We even have selective schools. As every teachers knows, teaching slow pupils demands a different kind of teaching skill and this has finally been recognised as it was in the good old days.

There are many such reversals in the new curriculum and I think they are promising, but my question is “Who is going to teach grammar and spelling etc?” It can’t be the current teachers because they were taught in Comprehensive Schools. Most current teachers are seriously lacking in grammatical knowledge and it’s not their fault. These poor souls will need remedial work. Perhaps the Education Revolution should start with the teachers themselves who will have a lot to learn before they can make up for the failure that English teaching has been during the past forty years.

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Cameron Cook, you should have cried.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Bikeway rapist who had his sentence reduced because he showed remorse. I said then that I was fed up with this silly ploy of boo hoo hooing to get the judge’s sympathy.

Well, today, Cameron Cook was convicted of trying to murder his wife by chaining himself and her to a car and driving the car off a pier. Something went wrong and he failed in his mission to take her with him when he tried unsuccessfully to kill himself.

He got a minimum of 12 years because he stupidly showed no remorse. He even threatened to finish the job properly when he gets out of jail. Now that was an unwise threat to make in front of Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth, wasn’t it?

Cook is a former cop and solicitor who should have known better than to express his true feelings in court. He certainly was let down by his defence team, wasn’t he?

So Ritalin is a write-off

It was only a matter of time before some study concluded that Ritalin is not doing much good for “sufferers” of ADHD. That’s the modern term for a child who misbehaves. He drives his parents mad and he doesn’t pay attention in class.

Little Johnny is a terror at home and at school so a psychiatric specialist decides that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Johnny is then prescribed Ritalin, a stimulant which ironically subdues him, making life much easier for everyone around him.

Wikipedia, to say the least, tells us that ADHD is a controversial subject because it is hard to define, but whatever it is, the knowledge that Johnny has a developmental problem rather than simply being unbearable is a great comfort to parents and, of course, to the medical profession who can then prescribe drugs and that makes the pharmaceutical companies very happy too.

Sadly, parents are not let off the hook completely, however, since the condition is 75% heritable.

Be that as it may, Ritalin has saved the sanity of many a parent and teacher.

So imagine what a blow it must be when a new study concludes that there is no improvement in school results and furthermore, children who are on Ritalin have higher blood pressure than those who aren’t and that, worse still, that high blood pressure remains even after the Ritalin has been discontinued.

What a surprise! A medication with side effects. Not a panacea, after all.

Never mind, because as I write there is a great brain out there working on the thesis that high blood pressure is a good thing. Anyway, this leaves the way open for the development of specific new drugs to lower blood pressure in children with ADHD who are on Ritalin.

I wonder if ADHD will go the way of RSI, (Repetitive Strain Injury) which was the condition du jour a few years ago? Young people, those under the age of twenty, won’t have a clue what this is. RSI was cured by having lots of days off work with a doctor’s letter to the employer. It was also cured when people stopped doing what was hurting them. Once that was achieved the anti-inflammatory industry was very upset and had to look for something else to cure.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard adenoids mentioned. Whatever happened to them? Have they gone the way of dropsy and lumbago? They certainly aren’t fashionable any more. Not half as fashionable as lap-band surgery and that nebulous autism…

Hospitals, Lawyers, and The Godfather

A baby was born yesterday at an excellent Melbourne Maternity Hospital. An email was subsequently sent to family and friends of the happy couple with the following observation:-

Overheard whispering while waiting to be called in to the surgery: “She’s a family lawyer, and I think he’s also some sort of lawyer. So be very careful.” And they were. It’s like being a member of the Mafia,

wrote the “some sort of lawyer” who in reality is an Assoc. Professor of Law at Melbourne University.

Perhaps the staff were afraid of finding a horse’s head on their pillow. lol

Mr Rudd, what’s wrong with being a housewife?

Can you believe how threatened the Labor Party must feel when it has to attack the Opposition Leader for referring to housewives doing ironing? Apparently he should have said housepersons or “directors of irons” or perhaps ironists or some other stupid name so as not to offend liberated women. Has it come to this? Why do we have to be so hypersensitive about our status? Is it because we don’t really believe we have arrived in spite of the “I am woman, hear me roar” cry?

We women struggled for so long for our rights. And yet we have become so ashamed of any reference to womanhood or female occupations that we jump down the throat of anyone who refers to tasks that women have done for years. Whether we like it or not we women are the ones who usually stay at home with the children. We don’t have to if we don’t want to, but it is still a matter of personal choice.

We certainly have the equipment for pregnancy and breast feeding, but I wonder how long it will be until some feminist or Labor politician becomes offended by the term “pregnant woman”. It seems as if anything to do with females is an insult to the female gender

It’s as if we still feel inferior and ashamed of being women. We are on the defensive and we attack if any man refers to anything we do as being “a female occupation”. For crying out loud, this is reverse prejudice. Why aren’t we proud of our attributes instead of becoming indignant if some man mentions ironing as if it is beneath us?

I remember when a few years ago some women decided to calculate what a housewife or “stay at home mum” was worth. This was the time when women wanted to be paid for looking after their own children. Anyhow, some brightspark listed all the things a mum does and the total came to about quarter of a million dollars per annum

How was that achieved? Well, the woman was a child minder, a nurse, a cook, a lover, a chauffeur, a cleaner (including ironing, I suppose) a counselor, a personal shopper, a barber…the list goes on and on. The problem with that is that all those jobs were calculated at the full-time salary or each one. How ridiculous is that!

And yet nobody dared dispute the figures because that would offend mums.

Politicians have to tiptoe around us in case they offend the gentler sex. To be honest, my standards as a cleaner were not professional. I was okay as a cook and I really was lousy at ironing. Thank goodness for permanent press! No reason to boast about my talents after dark either. All in all, I didn’t expect to get paid for being a mother. I was a housewife because that’s what I chose to be at the time when I wanted to be the one to take care of the children.

Poor Tony Abbott. He is the victim of his own success and the Labor Party is looking desperate when it attacks him for referring to housewives doing the ironing. This trend will continue, no doubt, as Abbott gains popularity and Rudd tells his cohorts to nitpick. I see nothing wrong with the terms housewife or househusband and believe that it is a sign of inadequacy to be so sensitive about references to gender. Vive la différence! I say.

To think that Naplan could achieve this miracle

The education writer at The Australian newspaper has revealed that Victorian teachers will have to prepare their pupils for the Naplan test. Shock horror!!!

The purpose of the National Assessment Program or Naplan is to test the numeracy and literacy of school pupils at various stages in their downward slide towards graduation from school. The Teachers Union is against the publication of the results of these tests for obvious reasons. Here, in Australia, the Education Union does not like being accountable to anyone for its method and “efficiency” in teaching.

So the latest ploy is to reveal to the media that teachers have been told to prepare their pupils for these tests. Which apparently is a scandal! It means that teachers will have to teach spelling, reading and punctuation, counting without a calculator and all that useless stuff. They will be asked to provide extra teaching for those pupils who are having difficulties with spelling and numeracy. What an imposition!

This is all too much for the poor Teachers Union. I actually doubt that some teachers even know how to spell and count and they certainly wouldn’t know how to teach language and syntax. After all, we got rid of all that silly business years ago when grammar became a dirty word.

Next, they will be asking teachers to actually teach and I have to admit that being an ex-high-school teacher myself who has seen many teachers in action, and I mean inaction, this is a big ask.