Rage on

Feb 21: SMH Letter to the Editor

While we are waiting for the political pragmatists to see a way of implementing the Gonski recommendations, lets get on with the local reform needed to ensure the funding is properly targeted. State education bureaucracies stand in the way of schools obtaining access and authority over resourcing issues. Subsequently initiatives such as autonomous schools, need to be implemented in parallel with the Gonski reforms.

November 14:SMH Letter to the Editor

In response to Dan Haesler’s piece For today’s learners , it just clicks.SMH Nov 14 (http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/for-todays-learners-it-just-clicks-20111113-1ndwi.html). Yes, NSW schools now have access to great learning technologies thanks in large part to the National DER initiative and our State Connected Classrooms Program.  I believe most teachers are willing adopters of technologies, but let’s not portray them (esp those more seasoned ones) as luddites – turning their backs on the technologies. Rather I’d argue that its the assessment system that is the real barrier confronting our adoption of C21 learning in classrooms. I’ll always remember a senior science teacher commenting; “I’m not against the technologies, but after successfully teaching HSC students for 25 years- I can’t risk deviating from my existing practise- for something which may not work.” Free our schools of outdated  modes of assessment, and students and teachers will readily embrace learning strategies that align not just to the curriculum content but new and appropriate ways of assessing them.


I feel guilty having initiated our own street ‘festival of the lights’, but the time has come to fade to black. Yep it’s that time of year where everyone is combing the two dollar shops for anything that can twinkle in the name of Christ. It’s now a social faux par to string up last years set of lights, as there’s an expectation to go bigger and brighter. Taste is thrown aside even in the nicest north shore homes. The gaudier and grander then the clearer the message: we party hard for Christ. Say it in lights long and loud in case anyone thinks you are the street Grinch.

My parents only owned one string of lights, which were ritually placed around our tree (the twelve bulbs of Christmas). Our suburb is now blessed with a Santa super warehouse, which I furtively slipped into (no rear entrance to be found), past the sentinels of Santa’s and nutcracker guards, to encounter hoards of lonely people salivating over the inflatable nativity scenes, robotic reindeers and silicon singing dwarfs. As the judge of our street lights competition I have already warned that buying in bulk from this palace of dreams may penalize their entry. But already I fear some neighbours have raided the lighting section to ensure they can save face when the day of judgement comes.

Thankfully we are still a dimension away from the excesses of mass festoonery in the US. Just look at Youtube –Christmas lights gone wild (9 million views). TV documentaries are now the new realty hit, showing childless couples spending all year planning their little piece of ozone depleting theatre, complete with synchronized music and strobing wise men. These expensive computer assisted systems are devoid of the simplicity of which kids delight and can participate in.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not against Christmas lights but just their excess- advocating a return to the simple string, or as one winning neighbour demonstrated- a few discrete candles.  Let’s keep the Yule log burning, but dimly.  I love the symbolism of pagans gathering to light up the winter darkness and lure back the sun. But down under in Australia, mid-summer- in the full blaze of daylight saving? Let’s keep the ritual of putting the lights up, helping out the neighbours with their display, but not competing with them.

I suspect over lighting is a secular activity- Christians are out shone by Budhists, Hindus, Muslims and atheists. So whatever their ‘father’, I hope he forgives them their excesses and delivers instead a discretely placed beacon (of hope).



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