The words I am about to paste into this post are the words I was invited to say from the pulpit of my local Anglican Church for a conversation on the Church's response to Gay Marriage...
26 March, 2014
The words I am about to paste into this post are the words I was invited to say from the pulpit of my local Anglican Church for a conversation on the Church's response to Gay Marriage...
29 August, 2013
I keep on progressing through school without any marked improvement on spelling. Content that I am able to make myself understood but caring more about the idea I am caught in, than about the niceties of making it pretty to the eyes of society. As luck would have it though, I was born at a point where this would not cause me any issues at all. At the same time I hit the job-market and the university, technology gives me the spellcheck. At first this just allows me to fix things at the end, but with the introduction of the wiggly red line something changes. This line, in my peripheral vision, somehow shortcuts its way into my subconscious and over the period of a few years I found myself repeating my errors less. Words, which were once a mystery to me (like those with a proliferation of Cs, Ss or double Ss followed by a single C…) suddenly work.
I hope so.
Standardised testing is a very good form of data gathering, but not on the micro level. Mmm, perhaps not on the macro either. Umm, somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot where the data is good. But if you use these tests to tell a kid language is not his thing, you might not be looking at the totality of the kid.
19 July, 2013
Australians all let us beware,
For we are girt by sea;
We've golden soil and wealth you’d spoil;
We are with-out sympathy;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
|The K Rudd Labor 'Australian' flag for 2013|
In history's page, let every stage
Australia Don’t Go There.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Australia Don’t Go There.
Beneath our tattooed Southern Cross
We'll toil with heads and hands;
To keep this Commonwealth of ours
Locked off from all the lands;
For those who'd come across the seas
We've boundless plains to keep;
With courage let us all combine
To make them just for sheep.
In joyful strains then let us see
you, piss off to PNG.
05 December, 2012
175g soft dark-brown sugar
4 tbsp orange (or lime) marmalade
3 or 4 eggs,
225g self-raising flour
40g almond meal (more if you like that marzipanesque flavour)
2 tsp ground mixed spice
75g glacé cherries, halved
4 or 5 tbsp whisky (I used 50:50 of Glenfiddich and Jim Beam)
80g blanched almonds to decorate
1 tsp caster sugar, to sprinkle over the top
- Soak currants and raisins in whisky for at least an hour.
Have a nip yourself while you wait.
- Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a 20cm loose-based deep cake tin with kitchen paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a food processor for 3-4 minutes (until light and fluffy).
- Add the marmalade and the eggs, beating well after each egg.
- Add the flour, almonds and spices to the batter. Mix slowly until well combined, then stir in the dried fruits.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, smooth the surface and arrange the blanched almonds in some sort of fancy pattern on top.
- Bake for 2 hours*, or until well risen, firm and golden-brown. (use the skewer test to ensure it is cooked)
- Let it cool a little in the tin before turning onto a rack. Sprinkle with sugar and eat with gusto.
*cake took a little over 2 hours in our dodgy oven.
01 August, 2012
Teacher Librarian Advocacy is useless, there is no way anyone in government could possibly justify throwing good money after bad by propping up this outdated profession. Why would I say such a thing? Lets take as an example the members of our profession, not the best and brightest (every profession, trade and vocation has superb practitioners) for they are not examples of the whole. No, lets examine the general 'body behind the circ desk' if you will. This person is a moron, trapped behind outdated technology (bitching and moaning about the death of the roneo file) and wishing for the good old days when the library was quiet (wood panelled and probably lit by gas lamps).
Lets think back over the last few months about all the hard work people (many of them on this list) have been putting in. Telling the NSW state government that school principals should NOT be able to take TL money and use it to pay a mere tech specialist. Using the best practice examples of our members to demonstrate all that should (and could) be. How a library can lift a whole school and the TL can drive test scores up, participation up and so much more besides.
Now imagine that Barry O'Farrell (persuaded by this impassioned plea) decided that today was the day he would investigate further. Today he would visit our newsgroup and make sure he was fully up to speed on the issue.
He'd not only allow principals to fire their TLs he'd damn well make it compulsory. And he'd possibly bulldoze all the libraries and sow the ground with salt into the bargain. Then (if he had any sense) he would have us all neutered in order to ensure we didn't reproduce.
Now, I know I have moaned about this sort of thing on here before (and before that). But I can not believe what I have been reading here the last couple of days. How can anyone expect to convince people that our profession should be allowed to be responsible for teaching students to navigate the digital world when it would seem the average member of our profession thinks 'the cloud' is something to yell at. How can anyone tell me that teacher librarians have a role to play in digital citizenship and helping young people navigate the complexity of social media when we as a group are completely unable to deal with a WONDERFUL and SEAMLESS transfer of our discussion list to an updated platform?
Oh, and putting the snark aside for a moment. Thanks to all involved for the upgrade.
So, where was I? Oh yes, people getting their knickers in a bunch about the 'new'. The 'new' is what we do folks. We should not sound like a group of 13 year old girls who have just found out that Facebook has done a redesign. "I liked it better before" This is not the voice I expect from major stakeholders in the knowledge economy.
Don't like it? Don't want to be on the list any more? Then UNSUBSCRIBE YOURSELF! Stop asking the rest of us to do it for you.
Want to complain that there are too many emails? Complain to your spouse or psychiatrist because the reason there are too many emails is because you keep emailing the whole list to complain there are too many emails. I don't care! I can't do anything about it, I am just a member of the list myself. The wonderful free and informative list, which no one forced to to join and, no one is stopping you from leaving.
But please, for the love of all that is sane, shut up and let this list go back to discussing the things that allow me to do my job with a bit more flair than I would if not for this amazing brains trust. Discussions about Olympic copyright, the best picture books, readers advisory methodologies, new books for the national curriculum and even clickview requests (if you must).
Want to complain about the upgrade? Go right ahead. As I librarian I found the link for you http://oztlnet.com/contact-us/ (just like I found the unsubscribe link up above).
Is there some OZTL protocol that says I am not allowed to take the email addresses of the next 5 people who mindlessly ask to be unsubscribed and send them to all the Nigerian scammers whose messages reside in my SPAM folder?
I mean, I know it is unethical, but is it specifically banned? Because at this point in time that seems like perfectly rational behaviour.
02 June, 2012
Here it is, 15 minutes of the 2nd left, I'm about to go to bed after getting home from the rugby club (yes, we won). I have some Uni work which is probably more vital than this and I am sleepy.
Anyone thinking about joining me in Blog every OTHER day in June?
01 June, 2012
At the moment when I read the emails that fly around the teacher-librarian world, there is a lot of chatter about the current setup in NSW where the government is moving towards letting school principals have the power to hire and fire. I believe it is being tagged "local schools, local decisions". I am listening to a lot of people who are very upset by this because they believe that this power is putting teacher-librarians and school libraries at risk.
So to that end we are seeing letters to the editor and interviews on the tabloid TV programmes.
My question is, is this advocacy the right tack for this situation? I am happily ensconced in the library of a Catholic school and as such there is no requirement for a librarian. In fact for a lot of time there wasn't one, however the previous principal decided that a neglected library was no good at all and the current one has continued to listen to my cries for more space and more money, so in the space of two an a half school years this library has been transformed.
Why do my NSW public school colleagues not feel that 'local decisions' are likely to free up funds to rebuild their libraries? Why is it an instant fear that the result will instead be giving them the boot and ploughing their stupid outdated old books into the ground as landfill and using the free space to buy a metric arseload of ipads?
There are all sorts of stats to be quoted, the decline in teacher librarian numbers in Victoria under the Kennett government. One paper I read mentions that only 8.6% of NT schools have a teacher librarian. But then, given that there are a lot of very small schools in the NT I am not sure this stat means much. Furthermore, given that in my experience in Darwin and Alice there are a lot of schools which would love a teacher librarian but have been unable to get one, this does not demonstrate any unwillingness on the part of principals. Additionally, there are some remote locations which have joint use libraries staffed and supported by the NT Library, so no teacher-librarians but still well resourced libraries. So, if the NT stats in these papers are representative of how useful the other figures are I would suggest that there is a bit of a problem with what the data is claimed to prove.
That leads me to my post title "Are we selling buggy whips". It is a tired old analogy online but I am now wondering why so many principals are just looking for an opening to toss teacher librarians into the dustbin. I have blogged earlier about the continued episodes on the teacher librarian e-list where members are unable to work out how to unsubscribe. If this is in any way indicative of a percentage of teacher-librarians I can imagine that a principal might be more than happy to give em the ol' heave ho and replace them with someone who is aware of which century this is.
My thought would be, that a better use of our time would be to make sure that all those who wear the badge of teacher librarian are capable of garnering the respect of their principals. Once that is the case, I suspect that principals will see the value in their continued employment. But until that is the case, I suspect no amount of lobbying is going to improve the perception that some of us are frantically hanging onto our buggy whips and demanding some sort of government mandated whip quota.
(this post was whipped of in too little time to think it through properly but because I just realised it was June and I am thinking I might try the blog every day of June thing so missing day 1 would be a bad start).
23 April, 2012
I have written about it before (I am sure) but here is my latest think on internet safety and security in schools. ACER, you could have had the whole lot if you wanted it. Instead I give it to the world (well, that tiny fraction of the world who will read my blog anyway).
Filtering software gives a false sense of security to school staff, leading to teachers believing they have no role to play in ensuring students are appropriate in their net use. Additionally, legitimate sites are often caught up in the filtering net (ie, a filter which blocks facebook can also block cyber safety sites which reference facebook or newspapers who use a facebook plugin to manage comments). Likewise, the common ban on youtube prevents teachers using a myriad of relevant content and leads to situations where tech-savvy teachers are bypassing set terms of service and copyright restrictions in order to be able to access the most useful resources for their classes.
Cyber bullying is also treated in an disjointed manner as if it is somehow disconnected from bullying in the schoolyard. Responses are also driven by paranoia rather than in a rational, considered way. As such social networks are banned meaning that responsible use can be neither taught nor modelled. A ban on facebook due to cyberbullying is like digging up the football field due to a lunch time fight, yet too often this overreaction is not questioned. Additionally, some schools seem to be taking on an online policing role and assuming responsibility for things which happen out of school hours. This sort of thing oversteps the mark in terms of a schools duty of care and of their sphere of influence. In the same way that a school is not responsible for a fight on a football field on a Saturday morning, nor should they be accepting any responsibility for a Skype chat between 2 students at 7pm on their own computers. While there may be a role in ensuring these students are able to deal with each other the following school day, this should not be by way of playing web detective.
Likewise, bans that exist in some jurisdictions, prohibiting facebook contact between students and teachers, only serve to prevent teachers using new media as a teaching and learning tool. Why this should be prohibited but contact by email (or other social media) is not only permissible but often encouraged is bizarre. Teachers should certainly be aware of their own digital footprint and what information students can find out about them but a blanket ban prevents teachers demonstrating good online citizenship to their classes.
The paranoid manner stranger danger online is spoken about, leads to unwarranted fear amongst some children. A sane view of the facts would demonstrate that (as has always been the case) it is not strangers that our children need to fear. Rather, most abuse is suffered at the hands of those who they know and who should be looking after them.
Any discussion with students on the dangers of abuse, bullying or stalking should not separate the digital world from the rest of the world and act like there is not a solid connection between the two. However, too often this is the way these issues are managed. One cannot be raped nor murdered on facebook. If a student accepts an invitation to meet someone they have met online, this is not a cyber issue it is a real world issue. In Australia this has happened (to the best of my knowledge) once and that did not involve facebook, myspace or any popular platform but on a chat room for people who believe they are vampires. With this in mind the paranoid push to cybersafety is barking up the wrong tree. We would be better focusing our attention on mundane cyber issues such as password security and the potential future damage drunken facebook photos could have on your career (if you don’t learn how to use the privacy controls).
12 April, 2012
I had a question from one of my staff this morning, she was told (by a parent during storytime) that she was not allowed to sing 3 blind mice with the children any more as it was not politically correct to say 'blind' and it was also wrong to scare children with threats of a carving knife. I have not heard of this before and was wondering if it is indeed true. She was also told not to sing Baa Baa Black sheep because of the word 'black'...I love it when these sort of things come up. And by love I mean get exasperated beyond belief.
I have always used the gruesome versions of stories and had a lot of fun with them. So my red riding hood puppet shows had grandma eaten by the wolf and the wolf in turn killed by an axe-wielding woodsman. That said, I was not always a traditionalist. My Goldilocks often ended with Goldie doing a five year stretch in Long Bay for break and enter (yes, I did read a bit of Dahl when I was younger, why do you ask?).
I would encourage people to do the same because if we all refuse to bow down before idiots then they are less likely to think they are in charge of the world.
To answer this particular case;
It is not politically incorrect to say blind. You can check with the Royal Society for the Blind if you are in doubt. All the blind people I have known have been well aware they are blind and don't need to be protected from this 'awful truth'. Plus, despite their lack of vision, none of them were ever confused about their humanity. They were well aware they were not mice. Yes, the song does not threaten children with knives (again, unless the child has some specific body dysmorphia and believes they are a mouse).
As for the added insanity of a black sheep being a racist issue...
The stupidity it burns.
Black sheep were unwanted because their wool could not be dyed. The expression has no racist connections at all (unless we choose to invent some of our own now). I believe (although I can't find the evidence right now) that this is a case of parody being reinvented as reality. It was one of those stupid ultra right wing chain emails bemoaning a ban on the rhyme which had in fact never happened. But somewhere along the lines people started to believe it and now you actually have morons who are too scared to use the rhyme.
My advice would be, keep singing it and if anyone complains ridicule them remorselessly. If we all manage to do this perhaps (being as we work with children) we may have a hand in making sure that this stupid lack of critical thinking is not passed onto the next generation?
16 March, 2012
OZTL was having a nice chat about Social Media the other day and, as I often find, there were some nicely hidebound folk who were happy to shout out about why we shouldn't. (oh, and sic. In fact, fully sic).
Teachers "befriending" students on-line is a bumpy road leading to a crash. A treacher should be friendly and approachable but never friends or approached. This has always been the case, no matter what the method of cxommunication. "Social Networking" still contains the word "Social"...or
...I personally have reservations about invading students' personal andand
social spaces. It has always smacked of the business or marketing push
that is prevalent in education today - ie get at them 24/7 in as many
spaces/ways as you can...
...ensure that any communications with students outside the school environment must be totally open and observed. Was it not Caesar who said,"Caersar's wife must not only be fault, she must be seen to be without fault."...
So I wrote a reply (less snarky than some I send to the list, but really guys. I snark because I love). Following my reply I got...
Love your recent post on OZ_TL net on social media policy. If it was a blog post I could share it with my students...Oh, you could? Well, I am nothing if not a servant of the people. So here it is.
Social media is a tool being used by the current generation of students. They will talk homework (amongst other things) online of an evening. It seems to me therefore that there are many benefits to teachers (and librarians) being linked in to this network.
Certainly when I was a uni librarian I didn't mind being friends with students and I would occasionally have a question pop up of an evening when I was online (sometimes I would ignore it, hell it was my time, other times I would take the moment to pass on an appropriate link or a research suggestion).
In a school, yes there is the possibility that things might get a bit fraught. But, how can we promote the idea of responsible digital citizenship if we isolate ourselves from that world? So...
where you are not prevented by rules and regulations from doing so, I would say...
go for it! Be a fb friend, but... keep your personal and professional separate. Lock down your personal page so students can not see you sleeping face down in your own vomit during uni O-Week (not a hard task). Then, create a 'fan' style page. https://www.facebook.com/
A fan style page, will let you connect online with your students while creating a level of buffer between you and their full online life.
There are several ways you could do this. Market yourself as a public figure or perhaps create a page for each class (or year) so you link your students together. That way they can (if they wish) do some of their after school "what were we doing with the French verbs" discussions in this public space. That allows you to watch (and spot the areas where you are not giving adequate instruction. Well, if none of the kids knew what you meant, whose fault is it?). It also allows you to pop in and redirect the discussion a bit (if you, like me are online much too often and have a surfeit of opinions).
Being online and visible should also make it easier for a school to monitor the "St Mujer Barbuda Preparitory Scool Sux" or "Ms Pfaffernaff is the wurst english teacher ever" groups which may spring up from time to time. It could make students less likely to create those groups (fb is suddenly somewhere there may be teachers) and it certainly makes it more likely students may let you know such groups exist.
For those of you who feel facebook is automatically 'fraught' let me ask you to imagine being a teacher in a country town. Population, mmm, lets say 1300 people. In this environment, do we expect the teacher to avoid social interaction with students? No, we don't, we accept (often hope) that the teacher will be playing on the same football team as the older year 12 boys. We know that the teachers will see the students out and about, attend the same churches and sometimes the same dinners. Down at the pub, the teachers will be drinking in the front bar, while the students are playing pool in the back bar and from time to time, they may even talk to each other. To some degree, fb is forcing us all to move into a modern version of that country town.
For centuries, teachers and students have managed to live like this, it is really a very recent thing to have teachers and students living completely apart other than during the school day (and, to my mind, it is a bit of a symptom of a modernist malaise). As a student, I am glad I grew up in a town where I saw my teachers down the pub of an evening (and sometimes for a counter lunch). I am glad I was friends with their kids (and went to parties in their houses). Now I work in a school, I am glad that when I am at rugby training there are kids from my school training with our juniors. I am not exactly glad, but in a strange way thankful for the rugby game when I kicked our school captain in the face (he was diving for the ball as I was trying to kick it). Not just because I kicked the opposition halfback in the face, but because it was an amusing way to meet his father. Only recently I attended the funeral of that same father, a sad occasion but I was one of about 15 current and former staff there all of whom would tell you that it is possible to be a friend without degrading the student/teacher relationship.
An online relationship is not even a small percentage of the interaction you have with students if you live in a small town (or even a small city). But, to dismiss it out of hand because of some notion that we should not be friends with our students seems bizarre to me. Especially when, with a few digital twists of the wrist, we can make sure that our online interaction is "totally open and observed".
And, to finish off...
a nice infographic on what your staff should know about social media (from a corporate perspective, but still worth some consideration).