Archive for the ‘Education’ Category
This is one of those ‘only in Australia’ stories.
A young couple grabbed two inflatable women they had lying around the house and took them for a ride down the flooded Yarra River in Victoria.
The man and woman, both 19, were left clinging to a fallen gum tree in the middle of the river in North Warrandyte when one of the dolls snagged on the tree and their caper went horribly wrong about 4.30pm.
An SES watercraft came to their rescue not far from Bradleys Lane about an hour later.
While it is understood the blow up doll and several other inflatable items were salvaged from the scene, the bottoms of the rescued woman’s bathers were long gone down the river.
A blanket was required to protect her modesty as she exited the water.
Victorian Police issued a stern warning that inflatable women are not approved flotation devices.
One of my close friends is a teacher with many years of classroom and administrative experience.
She came to KICE (Kangaroo Island Community Education) with a long history of developing positive relationships with parents, writing and implementing thoughtful and interesting programmes, and helping her students to achieve high academic standards.
She is one of those rare teachers who knows what standards are, and cares enough about her students to make them work to achieve them.
She has frequently faced hostility from both students and parents, hostility which has been replaced by respect and gratitude when students realise that they can do the work, and parents see that their children are getting results which they would not have thought possible.
At KICE she faced hostility from staff as well. On more than one occasion I overheard other teachers sniggering about what was being done to her. All the most difficult students put in her classes. Denied acccess to resources and to her own office space. Openly undermined with parents and students.
I was so disturbed by this that I wrote to the Head of Campus at Kingscote. I didn’t even get a reply.
Meanwhile, bullying is rife, academic standards continue to be appallingly low, and the school cannot stay within its budget.
It was reported to me by a parent that at the end of year assembly one of the finishing students had thanked the staff for their support. So far so good. But the student reserved special thanks for a staff member who had regularly rung them to remind them they should be at school, and who had finished their work for them if they were feeling stressed.
I was astonished. Surely that person could not really have thought this was kindness? Or that she was doing the students any good in the long term?
My impression is that (in many state schools, anyway) teachers who know what children should be learning, and try to teach, and maintain objective standards and mark to them (in other words, who do the things that are proven to build confident and capable students), are finding themselves more and more isolated.
This article by Katharine Birbalsingh tells of her similar experiences on the other side of the world.
A couple of excerpts:
For years, I soldiered on in the classroom, working hard to change the minds of children who were paralysed by a sense of victimhood. They found it impossible to believe that I had chosen to be their teacher, that I wanted to be there, that I loved being around them. Eventually, like any good teacher, I won them over by using all the tricks of the trade, from gold stars to phone calls at home with positive comments, to holding breakfast clubs in the early morning when I would spend my own money on croissants. My students felt grateful. Like me, other teachers give their life to the job, and we “succeed” despite of the shackles of the system.
The regular dumbing-down of our examination system is obvious to any teacher who is paying attention and who has been in the game for some time. The refusal to allow children to fail at anything is endemic in a school culture that always looks after self-esteem and misses the crucial point, which is that children’s self-esteem depends on achieving real success. If we never encourage them to challenge themselves by risking failure, self-esteem will never come …
I had become indoctrinated by all the trendy nonsense dictating that if children are not behaving in your classroom, it is because you have been standing in front of them for more than five minutes trying to teach them. If only you had sat them in groups with you as facilitator, rather than teacher at the front, then you’d have the safe environment conducive to learning that we all seek. The basic ideology is that if there is chaos in the classroom, it is the teacher’s fault. Children are not responsible for themselves, while senior management fails to establish systems that support teachers and punish children for not doing their homework, whatever their home situation.
I argued constantly with my colleagues and bosses. Often, I won and, almost as if they were inextricably linked, as the innate liberalism within people waned, the department or the school would improve. In every instance, I could see for myself that a move away from liberalism was a step in the right direction, a step that brought calm out of chaos, learning in place of trendiness, and success instead of failure …
Incidentally, my friend was invited back to a school where she had previously been in leadership, and begins there in a couple of weeks. Good for them. But such a pity for KICE, that someone who could have been an invaluable resource, and could have made a difference, felt she could no longer stay on in an atmosphere of hostility and indifference.
Anyone interested in education should read this article, ‘The Shadow Scholar,’ in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
‘Ed Dante’ makes a living writing essays for school and university students.
A teenager asked me a couple of week ago whether school and university qualifications were of benefit in finding work in the IT industry.
I said no. School and university qualifications are not generally regarded as providing objective evidence of actually knowing anything, or being able to do anything.
Partly this is because school results, and to a lesser but still significant extent, university results, are an indication, not of skills, knowledge, or ability, but of how much of an effort the teacher thinks has been made, given the student’s struggles, limitations and background.
In other words, a poor student from a home background of drunkeness and violence is likely to be given grades equal to those of a very good student who does not face those difficulties.
This may be kind and motherly and caring, but it is of no help to employers, nor, in the end, to the student.
It also helps if you agree with the teachers’/lecturers’ perspectives and generally suck up to them by pretending to be interested in what they say.
Industry qualifications have no such issues. No one cares if your mother was a heroin addict, or if you have dyslexia or ADHD, or if you think the lecturer is a really cool guy. You do the study, you go to an exam centre, you prove who you are, you take an exam with a high fail rate (up to 90%) in a secure environment with cameras or real people watching you, and you pass or fail.
There is no lily-livered nonsense about some people not coping with exams. If they can’t cope with exams they are not going to cope with the pressures and stress of a real-world job.
And the result is that employers have confidence in the qualifications that are awarded. They show that a person really does know what he or she says she knows, and can do the work he or she says he can.
Some cheating occurs, of course. You can probably slip the manager of a testing centre in Pakistan $1000 to let someone else take the test for you.
But nothing compared with the wholesale rorting of ‘continuous assessment’ at schools and universities.
A couple of quotes from the article:
You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students’ writing. I have seen the word “desperate” misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn’t write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren’t getting it.
For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?
I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created …
… for the first two types of students—the ESL and the hopelessly deficient—colleges are utterly failing them. Students who come to American universities from other countries find that their efforts to learn a new language are confounded not only by cultural difficulties but also by the pressures of grading. The focus on evaluation rather than education means that those who haven’t mastered English must do so quickly or suffer the consequences. My service provides a particularly quick way to “master” English. And those who are hopelessly deficient—a euphemism, I admit—struggle with communication in general.
Two days had passed since I last heard from the business student. Overnight I had received 14 e-mails from her. She had additional instructions for the assignment, such as “but more again please make sure they are a good link betwee the leticture review and all the chapter and the benfet of my paper. finally do you think the level of this work? how match i can get it?” …
… it’s hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I’d say education is the worst. I’ve written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I’ve written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I’ve synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I’ve written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I’ve completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents.
A couple of weeks ago a Year Twelve student from the local school gave me a questionaire on employment in the IT industry.
That was one of the questions. Most of the others had similar errors.
I have two questions of my own.
1. Does the school check questionnaires, letters, etc before they go to members of the public?
Well, obviously not.
Or at least I hope it was not checked by a staff member, because if it was, our schools are even worse than I think they are.
2. How is it that a reasonably intelligent boy in Year Twelve has such appalling literacy?
If a person who is no dimwit can get through twelve years of schooling and have no idea how to spell or construct a sentence, what the heck has he been doing all that time?
And what have schools been doing with all my tax money?
An interesting article from Kelsey Grammer’s Rightnetwork from a home schooling journalist.
Just a sample:
Academically, we couldn’t help but observe that our fourteen-year-old son was made to watch My Big Fat, Greek Wedding in English class because they’re supposed to be studying Homer — and Homer’s Greek, you know; or notice that he’s seen Al Gore’s carbon footprint infomercial four times already, once each in four different classes; discover that none of the teachers or administrators can spell or operate a sentence, never mind the students, but they’ve seen Supersize Me twice already; or see that all his textless textbooks looked like a cross between a comic book and a collage. Such things indicated that nothing serious was ever going to happen in school. As far as behavior goes, we’ve had enough experience with both sons now to know that males of the species are simply not welcome in public school. That was Samuel Burgos’ real crime. He acted like a little boy, and that’s not allowed. His parents should embrace it, and never send him back. That’s what we’ve done, and we couldn’t be happier.
GK Chesterton said ‘Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.’
That is not my favorite Chesterton quote. He also said ‘A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.’
Both are apposite when thinking about contemporary government-run education.
Last year my wife completed a post graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Education.
The theme of every unit in this diploma was that the little blighters educate themselves. All you need to do, as an educational facilitator, is to provide them with a rich learning environment.
In particular, you shouldn’t think of teaching them anything, or of directing their learning in any way. This may harm their self-esteem, curiosity and creativity. Children will absorb the numeracy and literacy skills they need as they need them. Their learning should be self-directed.
Apart from being complete and utter bollocks, what struck me most about this course was how carefully structured it was.
By the time you get to post-graduate level, you have a pretty good idea of how to study, and of the gaps in your knowledge. Of course, as Donald Rumsfeld remarked, there are also unknown unknowns – things you don’t know you don’t know, and this is where a good teacher comes in handy.
But in this course, every student had to read the same articles in the same order, and was expected to come to the same conclusion. Namely, that education works best when it is unstructured.
The lecturer, being a humourless left wing git, saw no irony in this at all.
Post-graduates can be expected to take most of the responsibility for their learning. Kindergarten and primary children cannot. The whole world is unknown unknowns to them. They have no way of knowing what they need to learn, or how to go about learning it.
Sadly, most primary teachers in Australian state schools, never having been educated themselves, cling to the romantic ideal of student directed learning.
The one area where this does not seem to apply is political/environmental issues.
At government schools around the country, students are regularly subjected to emotionally laden, reason-free, questioning forbidden, programmes of indoctrination on matters environmental.
One recent example is is the ghastly consequences of palm oil farming. Single-minded and empty headed guest speakers are inflicted on the students, who are also obliged to watch heart-rending videos of forest clearing followed by pictures of sad looking orang utans and little elephants.
They are then encouraged to act globally by telling other people what to do.
For example, students may wish to write to Australian companies which use palm oil, threatening not use their products unless they cease to do so. Or they may write to the Indonesian ambassador expressing their dismay at Indonesia’s apparent disregard for the welfare of its endangered species.
The arrogance is astonishing. As is the complete lack of concern for the families whose livelihoods such actions will destroy.
Students then file home in a bored but confidently self-righteous fashion, leaving a trail of litter, and perhaps bashing a few penguins to death along the way.
Believe me, it happens.
The end result is listless and resentful students, whose self-esteem really is damaged because they know very well that they are not achieving or learning anything worthwhile.
But teachers, in a frenzy of rose tinted delusion, return to the staff room to congratulate themselves on what a wonderful job they are doing, oblivious to the consistently appalling behaviour, and equally appalling academic results.
There is no getting around reality.
Someone decides it is insulting to call people whose intellectual development has been retarded ‘retarded.’ So we are told to call them ‘intellectually handicapped.’
Soon ‘intellectually handicapped’ becomes a form of insult. So we are told to call them ‘slow learners.’
A couple of years later, every time you want to insult your mates you say ‘Looking like a slow learner there Joe!’
So that term naturally becomes unacceptable, and anyone who has ever used it is obviously insensitive and uncaring.
Let’s call them ‘special children’ instead. Let’s have ‘special schools’ for ‘special children.’
Scene in schoolyard: ‘You’re a special child!’ ‘I am not. I’m telling.’
There is no getting around reality.
So when you are no longer supposed to call homosexuals homosexuals because that might be insulting, and instead you are supposed to call them ‘gay,’ what is going to happen to that word?
Any school teacher can tell you that the worst possible insult in the playground is beng called gay. You can say someone is lame, you can insult his mother, or her father. But but if one child calls another child gay, be prepared for trouble.
Whether being gay really is gay, I don’t know. Most homosexuals of my acquaintance don’t demonstrate a a high level of satisfaction with their lives, so I suspect it might be.
But they really are gay, the ones who objected to principal Garry Martin’s replacing the word ‘gay’ in the Kookaburra song with the word ‘fun.’
Firstly, when the song was written ‘gay’ pretty much meant fun. Remember The Gay Divorcee? OK, there aren’t many of them either. Or the Gay Nineties? Not the recent nineties, the ones before?
No? Well, you know what I mean.
Before the word gay, a good word, was hijacked, it meant happy, light-hearted, fun.
Now it just means gay.
Marion Sinclair meant that a kookaburra’s life was carefree, fun. So Principal Garry was being true to the original text. And Kookaburra, fun to sing though it is, is not Shakespeare.
Secondly, this was about children singing. Children singing. Children, at school, singing together.
The word gay is an extreme insult in the playground. So naturally the kids were rolling around the floor laughing when asked to sing about a gay kookaburra.
So why not do the sensible thing and replace the word ‘gay’ with the word ‘fun?’
Garry describes what he was thinking:
“I wasn’t trying to incite or insult gay people, or trying to violate the copyright of Larrikin Music; it was just a decision at the time that I thought would minimise a disruptive atmosphere with grades one and and two.”
But after a controversy in which it has been suggested he is trying to make gay people invisible:
In an interview on the Nine Network, Mr Martin was backtracking on his decision, saying that perhaps he should have discussed the true meaning of the word with the children.
So Garry now thinks he would have been doing the right thing if he discussed homosexuality with year ones and twos?
No, Garry no. You were right the first time.
I noted a few days ago that KICE – Kangaroo Island Education, had scored below average results in national numeracy and literacy testing. Results for the year three group were substantially below average. This was when compared with all schools, and with ‘statistically similar schools.’
Kangaroo Island is regarded as remote, and incomes on the island are below national averages.
So statistically similar means poor and remote. Other schools listed when I checked the site were schools with high proportions of indigenous students.
Aboriginal schools are generally recognised as having significant issues in terms of absenteeism and literacy.
For KICE to score below aboriginal schools at any level is an appalling result.
How could this have come about? There three possibilities.
1. Children on KI are unusually stupid.
I don’t think this is so. But there does seem to be an unusually high proportion of students with learning difficulties – particularly boys.
2. Parents do not see the value of education, are not supportive of the school, do not read with their children at home, etc, etc.
This is possibly true. There does seem to be a general lack of recognition of the value of learning.
There is also a high incidence of domestic violence.
I have not seen any studies of correlation between domestic violence and literacy, but I would expect a strong inverse relationship.
A close friend says her observations while working in aboriginal schools confirms this. Children were often scared of what they would find when they went home, if Dad was drunk, or Mum had threatened to kill Dad in his sleep, or sister had been beaten with iron bars the night before because she was friends with someone the family were enemies of.
Because they were scared the children were not interested in school work, or left during the day to check what was happening, or found other, often unhealthy, ways to cope.
Even in less extreme circumstances, children might be distressed and distracted by unhappiness at home.
But this is not the whole answer. The relationship between KICE and parents seems to be marred by suspicion if not outright hostility.
To give an example, last year a parent wrote a letter to the local paper, questioning the teaching of Indonesian as a second language. The questions were reasonable, and could have been answered in a reasonable way.
Instead, the principal wrote back to the paper saying he was taking legal advice, and suggesting the parent, and anyone else who thought like him, was a narrow-minded redneck.
This kind of response does not encourage parents and community members to believe they can talk openly with the school about issues.
It also makes the school as whole seem defensive if not irrational, so that parents are less likely to take the word of teachers or other staff over that of their children, and less likely to believe disciplinary measures are being adminstered fairly.
3. The school is disfunctional, or at least, teaching in the early years is or has been very poor.
I met two retired teachers last week. Both had taught for many years on Kangaroo Island. I asked one of them what he used to teach, meaning subjects. He replied ‘little bastards.’ I laughed, and asked whether this was what had lead to his early retirement.
He said it was not. He was used to poor behaviour from students, and lack of support from parents. What had got him in the end was ongoing bullying in the staff room. The other teacher who was with him confirmed that this had also been his experience.
Now let’s just talk in general about disfunctional schools.
There was a fuss in the papers in South Australia a few years ago about a power group of teachers in a public school. They organised timetables so that they got better students and more free time. Difficult classes would be split for them, but left intact for new teachers, who were then belittled if they had classroom management problems.
Teachers were appointed, and office space and privileges allocated, not on the basis of need or experience, but on the basis of who knew who, and who talked loudest about the great things they had done.
This resulted in high levels of tension, large numbers of staff on stress leave, and declining academic results. Senior staff sent to try to resolve the problem were either drawn into the power group, or if they resisted and tried to bring about change, decried as bullies or incompetent, and moved on.
No one benefits from this, except the few who are able to make life comfortable for themselves at the expense of other teachers, students, and the community.
For results to improve, existing problems need to be acknowledged. Power groups need to be recognised for what they are, and deprived of their power. Appointments need to be made on the basis of who is best suited for the position, not who is someone’s drinking buddy.
And last but certainly not least, there needs to genuine and respectful interaction with the community.
More money will not solve the poor NAPLAN results. Better management will.
I have followed the debate about the publication of national numeracy and literacy testing with interest.
My view, of course, is that parents, the wider community and the government should have as much information as is practicably possible about educational standards, including information about which schools are doing well and why.
The AEU (Australian Education Union), of course, thinks any such plan is reprehensabul, riprahinsable, reprehansbil, bad, because parents might choose to send their children to schools which produce better results. Which means that mediocre teachers might find themselves out of work. Which would be another really inaproprite, unexcaptable, bad thing.
Much badder than children not getting the best possible education, for example.
Over the objections of the AEU, the Federal Government today launched the My School website, which enables anyone to check any school’s NAPLAN test results against the national average, or an average of statistically similar schools.
My nearest school is KICE – Kangaroo Island Community Education.
The site shows KICE’s results are below average compared with all schools and statistically similar schools at all year levels, and spectacularly below average in year three.
On Friday I will make some suggestions about why this is.
The reasons private schools generally do better than public schools is not that they are better resourced.
A few of the top schools are, of course. But private schools receive on average a third less overall government funding per student.
Although they make up some of the difference through fees and fundraising, most private schools have larger classes and fewer resources than their government equivalents.
The difference is attitude.
This is true of private vs public hospitals too.
If you walk into a private hospital the chances are that you will be able to see the reception area immediately, and that when you get there reception staff will look pleased to see you, and will try to help.
If you walk into a public hospital and manage to find the reception desk, you will be snarled at by some surly slattern, who after saying ‘Yorrite?’ will say she doesn’t do patient enquiries, and direct you down the hall to the right, second stairs on the left, along the passage and up the lift, where if you are lucky, someone might have some idea where your loved one is.
I have nurse friends who have worked in public hospitals and gone to the private sector expecting higher staff to patient ratios, and found the reverse is the case. And yet, patients feel better cared for.
The difference is attitude.
Private schools and hospitals only succeed if clients are happy with the service they receive.
This means outcomes matter, and patients, students, visitors and parents are treated as people.
A new report commissioned by the Australian Education Union, has found, surprise, surprise, that State schools are not receiving a fair share of Federal Government funding.
This, they claim, is terrible, unfair, wrong, bad, and disadvantages families whose children attend State schools.
These claims by the AEU are so misleading that it hard to see how thay can be anything other than deliberately dishonest.
Education is a state responsibility. Schools are meant to be funded by the states.
But states routinely give only minsicule funding to private schools – less than 10% of the funds given to State schools.
The Federal Government makes up some of the shortfall by giving additional funds to private schools. But total government funding to private schools is still only about two thirds per student of funding to State schools.
Children who attend private schools are just as much citizens, and their parents just as much tax-payers, as those who attend State schools.
A system which so grossly discriminates against families who choose private schools is unfair. The AEU claims it should be even more unfair.
The AEU is not concerned about justice. Nor is it concerned about better outcomes in education.
The AEU has consistently opposed every state or federal policy proposal which evidence suggests would give better results.
The evidence is indisputable that clear curricula and standards based teaching works, that clear reporting of student results and rankings works, that more parent involvement in schools works, that giving parents free choice of schools works.
But all of those things undermine union power, and the AEU can be relied on to object to all of them.
Perhaps it should be renamed the AUPMT – the Australian Union for Protecting Mediocre Teachers.
The report cites half a dozen pieces of research that demonstrate pretty conclusively that children do better in terms of mental health and social adjustment when their fathers as well as their mothers are involved in their upbringing. Children are 40 per cent more likely to suffer mental health problems if they do not have contact with one parent. Girls are more likely to have healthy relationships with men – as you’d expect – if their fathers are part of their lives.
According to research from Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College in the US State of Michigan, children smacked before the age of six perform better at school when they are teenagers. They are also more likely to do voluntary work and to want to go to university than their peers.
Professor Gunnoe interviewed 2,600 teenagers about being spanked. She found that when participants’ answers were compared with their behavior, such as academic success, optimism about the future, antisocial behavior, violence and bouts of depression, those who had been physically disciplined only between the ages of two and six performed best on all the positive measures.
No surprises in either case, really – it’s about being loved, feeling secure, and having clear boundaries.
1. I had occasion to visit the regional hospital in Geraldton a couple of days ago. Staff seemed competent and concerned for their patients. So far, so good.
Ouside the main entrance was a vendng machine for syringes and needles. This is a photo of the machine, and of my $3.00 worth of needles and syringes:
I know there is a view that the best way to help intra-venous drug abusers is to make their drug use as easy as possible.
That is a view not well-founded in research, but it is at least motivated by good-will. Well, I assume it is. It is not clear how implementing or continuing policies which have been shown to do more harm than good can really be motivated by a desire to help, but let’s give the hospital administrators and drug policy people the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe they are so busy they don’t have time to read.
What I don’t understand is how putting a vending machine in a public place so any five year old with $3.00 can get a supply of syringes and needles is helping anyone.
2. I bought some very good fish and chips yesterday evening. On the shop notice board was an advertisement for the ‘Murdoch University Chiropractic Clinic.’
Murdoch University teaches chiropractic. It runs chiropractic clinics.
How is it possible to have any confidence in the academic integrity of a university which offers PhDs in quackery?
It is a bit like Oxford offering a degree in tea-leaf reading, and running a tea leaf reading booth at the local shopping mall.
The university website tells potential students:
We are excited that we are now entering a time where more emphasis can be placed upon generating research relating to chiropractic.
They could just take note of the century of existing research, which shows that the only thing chiropractic can do is provide temporary relief of some kinds of minor back pain – about the equivalent of taking two aspirin, and that other chiropractic techniques are not only useless but harmful.
The website goes on:
In September, 2006 Murdoch University School of Chiropractic was informed by the Council on Chiropractic Education Australasia Inc. that its program had become fully accredited.
So if you decide to do a course in chiropractic at Murdoch, you can be assured that the piece of paper they give you will be accepted by quacks and charlatans around the world.
Early previews of Avatar were stunning. But it looked preachy right from the beginning – like a magnificent sci-fi retelling of the noble green fight against logging in Tasmania.
Jim Schembri at The Age has seen it, and says this is exactly right:
THERE’S no argument that, as a showcase for the immersive potential of 3D visual effects technology, James Cameron’s long-awaited $300 million sci-fi epic Avatar – his first film since 1997’s world-conquering Titanic – is an unqualified triumph.
But as a story designed to engage, enthral and entertain adult audiences for almost three hours, it is a major disappointment strewn with weak characters, environmental platitudes and anti-progress cliches. …
The lush alien world Cameron creates is a magnificent, photo-realistic landscape of multi-coloured dragons, dinosaurs, endless waterfalls and floating mountains. But with its patronising, predictable images of noble savages, evil technology and gigantic bulldozers crunching their way through precious alien rainforests, the film often feels like a megalithic piece of green propaganda. As superbly rendered as his 3D world is, Cameron has populated it with characters who are strictly 2D. And sometimes not even that.
A compulsive envelope-pusher, Cameron invented a pioneering camera system and ground-breaking visual processing techniques for the film, but perhaps he should have spent a little less time obsessing over the technology and a tad more developing the story beyond the compendium of cliches it regrettably is.
But I’ll still go and see it.
Catherine Deveny, comedy writer, stand-up comedian and perpetual sad sack.
I have never encountered a column writer who has such an immense talent for finding something offensive or hurtful in ordinary day to day life and human interaction.
But she manages to slip beneath even her former underwhelming efforts in her column variously titled private schools muck up, watch those grammars, or private school values.
Firstly she is offended by the idea that a private school principal might have some friends who could assist someone in need.
Did you read about the boy who may lose hearing in one ear because a Melbourne Grammar boy threw an egg at him during a muck-up prank gone wrong? Did anyone else feel sickened but at the same time not at all surprised when the principal of Melbourne Grammar said in an interview: “[The injured boy’s mother] asked for help because . . . her son was not able to gain access to a surgeon. I was able to, through contacts, get him an appointment with a surgeon the very next day.’
Well, actually no. I was not sickened by this. I was pleased to hear of school authorities taking responsibility and doing what they could to assist.
It is still not clear to me what Catherine found so distressing.
The idea that some people actually have friends? The idea that some people might be willing to help someone in need? The idea that some people might be in a position to help someone in need?
Then she is offended by being invited to mentor a gifted student at another private school. Well, offended that no pay is offered. The school is surprised that she asks. No one else has done so.
Catherine suggests the school is greedy, attempting to shame her into working for nothing to increase their company profitability.
But private schools are not businesses. They are non-profit organisations whose income goes entirely into providing facilities for students and their communities.
Private schools receive substantially less government funding than state schools – on average $5000 less for every student. Parents and school communities work hard to make up the rest.
Catherine told the schoool that she would mentor a student if the school agreed to donate $200 to the Asylum Seekers’ Resource Centre. They agreed, and she mentored the student.
The school should have just said ‘No thanks’ right at the start.
There are some people who walk into my shop whom I know within thirty seconds of their opening their mouths that I do not want as customers. There are some people you will just never be able to please.
But having agreed, it should have given the money.
Catherine claims the school reneged on the agreement. Maybe they did.
She took their not wanting to communicate with her as proof. Maybe they had just reached the same conclusion about her that I reach about some of my customers – too much trouble when weighed against possible benefits.
If they did not give the money, their failure to do so is reprehensible.
But one incident of one school not doing the right thing does not make greed and dishonesty ‘private school values.’ There is something wrong in thought processes that can lead to such a claim being made with such blind certainty.
What is wrong with Catherine Deveny?