You may recall this sad news a couple of weeks ago. I called in at The Mine yesterday even though school does not go back until Monday. There were a few people there. I found that Mitchell Seow, the 18-year-old ex-student, had been in the city with friends the Saturday before last and simply collapsed and died. There has been no funeral yet because there has had to be an inquest, as with all sudden and unexplained deaths.
Category Archives: Salt Mine
I find I have some bureaucratic hoops to go through before I am officially retired. I was in fact misinformed about this at The Mine because my employment has been a touch odd: I resigned in fact in the early 1980s and have been “casual” and lately (in part) “temporary teacher ESL”. I now find I must fill in a “separation form” — the above is my search for that. Guess what? They do not have the form online! You can only get them in schools. So I must report to The Mine on day one next year to get the form.
Actually I was going in anyway to tidy up a few things…
Just back from my last end-of-term drinks (at the Bat and Ball) as a staff member at The Mine, though it is likely I will reappear there in various casual and consultative guises. It’s a more inclusive place and much less macho than it was twenty years ago, and that is all to the good.
I like to think I have had some degree of hand in that, some of which you can see on my other blog, though much really is down to natural change. Some people said some very nice things to me.
Here is a very measured opinion from a classmate (Class of 1959) from The Mine.
IT IS some time since we have been addressed by the Singaporean and Malaysian leadership about Asian values. But the subject was of lively interest, there and here, a decade or so ago.
As the issue was then framed by regional leaders, the Asian values challenge combined and confused several related but distinct notions. The proponents of the Asian values thesis insisted that others recognise, in everyday action, the principle of national sovereignty, the right of the nations of Asia to manage their own affairs independently.
This insistence they combined with, and justified on the basis of, a second principle: the obligation of outsiders to acknowledge and respect cultural pluralism…
FIVE-YEAR-OLD children will be tested for basic reading skills twice a year under a national plan to help struggling students.
Describing the current state of early childhood and kindergarten education as “a mess”, Education Minister Brendan Nelson said the literacy tests would provide parents with results while their children were still identifying words and developing reading skills.
Pre-empting a national literacy report to be released soon, Dr Nelson backed the investigation’s recommendation of a national testing regime for under-8s.
“When a child comes into the system, you have got to have some idea of what their reading skills may be,” he told The Weekend Australian. “How is a teacher to know who to concentrate on? You worry about them all but you’ve surely got to identify the ones you have got to start from scratch on.”
This is insane stuff, really, and could only come out of the mouth of an anally retentive bureaucrat/politician with a mechanistic industrial model of education like Brendan Nelson. Mister Gradgrind, eat your heart out! It is also insulting to every early education teacher in Australia, who are trained and experienced to recognise what is happening with their charges and what their potential/problems might be in ways far more accurate and sensitive than any test Brendan-babe might think appropriate.
Yesterday I was meant to meet early in the morning with The Poet to talk him through how to use the site I set up for him (above) but the probably final illness of his mother-in-law prevented this happening. He is off to the USA shortly to visit his son as well, then moving to Victoria.
Later we were to have coffee with Phil Day; Read the rest of this entry »
I posted the above today [on Tripod: no longer available], despite yesterday’s date being on it. I had a conversation this morning with one of the older Islamic students, who is very worried about the new anti-terror laws and recent events. Rightly so, even if I told him dutifully that Muslims are not in fact (in theory) being targeted. The fact though is they feel targeted, and the behaviour of the media and some enior politicians certainly hasn’t helped. He told me he had joined Amnesty International, so I gratefully encouraged that approach — as preferable to “something more dramatic”. I do have skills in euphemism when needed. I posted the above entry for all of us, but especially for him and his colleagues.
Sad news at The Mine
I posted the above on June 11, 2005, citing a story in The Australian: “…US commentator Brian C. Anderson …, after interviewing 50 students in a population of millions, hailed a right-wing insurgency sweeping American colleges in his book South Park Conservatives. Anderson argues that the Left’s stranglehold on universities is weakening, even at Berkeley, that Californian crucible of ’60s ferment. ‘Never has the Right flourished among college kids as it does today,’ he writes.”
I was reminded of that post, which someone else visited today and which I then reread, when I dropped in on Another Blog just now to see what was happening. R comments there on a fashionably Hansonite story on tonight’s Today Tonight, R’s entry itself being well enough written, and a fair enough expression of opinion of course.
Except that it really took me back to a time when “Why don’t the bastards speak English?” was usually thought to be a bit, well, ignorant. I mean, there are old Italians in Leichhardt even to this day to whom English is very much a second language, sometimes very basic indeed, even if their grandchildren speak hardly any Italian. Mind you, I think such language loss is also sad, for all sorts of reasons, personal as well as economic.
But the fact one speaks very little English and does one’s driving test in a language other than English, an example cited in the entry, does not mean you can’t master road signs. There is quite a difference between being able to respond to a road sign and being able to compose a sonnet in English, or even being able to compose a shopping list in English, or so I would have thought. Read the rest of this entry »
I had an email the other day that cheered me up.
This is [name] from the class of 2003 and I’m glad to see that your [English and ESL] site has gone from useful to delightful.
I still remember studying your charming compilation of Chinese stories and cultural insights back in Year 10, and I hope that they are still as welcome in the classroom.
I held dreams of writing my own novels back in Year 12 (and diverted a significant part of my study time to keep an ideas journal), but that fell through …
Now, I’ve resolved to get started on this path because I’ve identified this as a dream too important to leave unrealised.
I gave him a few leads, and he replied:
Thanks for the leads and I’ll pursue them before signing up.
I’d very much like to meet you in person again, so if you have no objections, please let me know when you’ll be on school grounds. One of my biggest regrets in High School was that I never discussed deeper issues with the teachers – my standard schoolboy questions hardly did justice to their years of colourful experience. I did a bit of this in Year 12, and a lot of it now in Uni, but I would’ve loved to have talked more with you when in your classes. I hope it’s not too late?
Dinner with M and his really interesting friends was just a delight. Meeting him in 1990 was the best thing I ever did
Year 12 final assembly at The Mine today was also good. The school captain, a Sinhalese, spoke really well. I was much encouraged.
Read the rest of this entry »
I get confused easily. There is the organisation above (click the picture) and there are two other organisations as well. The above, it seems to me, is in no way analogous to a trade union. That second link offers a world-wide and historical perspective. When I was at Uni I did not avail myself of all the Union’s offerings, though I certainly used a lot of the discounts. I used also to have these fantasies, which I often indulged, of being in a Club, rather like the ones I had read about in things like Sherlock Holmes. I did not take up smoking a pipe or cigars or drinking port, but I came close. Indeed, I suspect the Sydney University Union was an imitation of The Oxford Union; even the architecture of the older Sydney University Union buildings seems to be in imitation — see pic, which is Oxford.
5.3.1 Decisions about school uniforms should be consistent with occupational health and safety, anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation. Aspects of the uniform related to safety, e.g. safe footwear, eye protection and hats, will need to be enforced as appropriate.
5.3.2 Each school’s uniform policy must be the result of formal consultation with students, teachers and parents or carers, including the Parents and Citizens’ Association, local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and School Council, where relevant. The consultation will be conducted in a manner appropriate to each school and be based on participatory decision-making principles. The school’s uniform policy and uniform requirements should be formally endorsed by the school community before implementation.
5.3.3 A school’s uniform policy should take into account the diverse nature of the student population in the school and not disadvantage any student. Economic, personal, social and cultural factors affecting students and their families must be considered when deciding on items of uniform. Other considerations, such as body shape or religious requirements should be taken into account in making a final decision on the design and fabric of school uniforms.
5.3.4 The school’s uniform policy and school uniform requirements should be reviewed at least every five years and amended where necessary. Groups within the school community may also seek a review when circumstances change significantly or issues arise…
6.1.3 Suspension or expulsion solely for non-compliance with uniform requirements is not to occur. Student enrolment cannot be contingent upon adherence to school uniform policy.
6.1.4 Students should not be disadvantaged where required uniform items are not available because of circumstances beyond their control.
6.1.5 Conscientious objections by parents to the wearing of school uniform should be respected.
6.1.6 Responses to students who do not wear uniform must be appropriate. They should be clarified, agreed upon by the school community and documented. Responses must be fair and consistent. They must not prevent students from continued participation in essential curriculum activities except where exclusion is necessary for reasons of safety. In this situation, alternative educational activities must be provided.
The fact is school uniforms in NSW are matters of convention, and strictly speaking are legally unenforceable. Fifty years ago no state primary school in NSW had a uniform; at Sutherland cast-off bits of World War II uniforms were fashionable, and very few boys wore shoes. Read the rest of this entry »