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The English teacher's drink of choice

05 July 2017 | Frank O'Shea

Hip flaskPaddy was a mediocre teacher, even if that is the unreliable opinion of a colleague who has great sympathy for what must go on in an English class. He had a weakness not uncommon among the literati and which may well have been a reaction to the rigid pieties of his Tory background. In his case, the consumption of alcohol caused him to become tiresomely scrupulous, seeming to lose the capacity for dissimulation and verbal artifice that are necessary qualities for life in the modern world.

Hanson's autism comments miss the value of diversity

21 June 2017 | Madeleine Hamilton

Pauline HansonThe mood was subdued at the gates of our small Catholic primary school at 3:30pm on Wednesday. Ten per cent of our school's students have an autism diagnosis, and for their parents who had read Pauline Hanson's comments to the Senate that afternoon, those familiar feelings - dismay at the ignorance and lack of empathy of some people, worry for the future, and defiant pride in their diverse children - had been activated yet again.

Gonski in an age of budget repair

23 May 2017 | Frank Brennan

Study notesThe level of consultation prior to the announced changes was appalling. But that is water under the bridge. It's time to enunciate some clear principles, and for respectful consultations to take place investigating how those principles can be best applied. This must be done within the realistic political environment in which we find ourselves. At the same time the Catholic system should ensure its schools are more available to the poor, enacting Pope Francis's desire for 'a Church which is poor and for the poor'.

A student's view of 'big business' universities

07 May 2017 | Francine Crimmins

Empty lecture theatre'We won't have classes next Monday because of the public holiday on Tuesday.' My tutor tells us this cheerily, as if he has done us a favour. I'm studying a degree that costs $4000 each semester, about $60 per hour of actual teaching time. This includes a subject where instead of being able to meet with faculty members, we must skype them. If that's not the most expensive skype call ever, perhaps the critics are correct, and young people should stop complaining about the potential increase of fees.

Reading, writing, and stifling homeschool regulations

30 April 2017 | Kate Moriarty

Homeschooling parent is overwhelmed by government paperwork. Cartoon by Chris JohnstonI decided to homeschool for one year, to give my daughter a chance to recover and to build her confidence. I never expected to fall in love with the lifestyle. Twelve months later, I gave in to my younger son's entreaties and began homeschooling him as well - just for one more year. In Victoria, the registration process is simple and straightforward. It is not surprising, then, that Victoria has the highest number of registered homeschoolers. But this may soon change.

Catholic schools can't neglect LGBTI students

05 April 2017 | Neve Mahoney

Rainbow flagRecently Gilbert Baker, the man who designed the rainbow pride flag, died. The flag was designed to be a symbol for the LGBTIQ movement, representing the diversity of the community. Within the same news cycle, it was reported that Catholic Notre Dame University in Sydney had had pride flag stickers torn down from its student association office. Schools' main concern should be the welfare of students, but that is difficult when they have an arm tied behind their backs in regards to LGBTIQ students.

Towards a more inclusive religious curriculum

20 March 2017 | Sophie Chalmers

Children of different faiths sharing. Illustration by Chris JohnstonThe Dalai Lama is turning 82 this July, and he may be the last in his line. The religious and political ramifications of this are often lost on the general public. Many people in largely Christian Australia don't know the significance of a Mikveh in Judaism, can't explain why the Buddhist Middle Path is so important, or recite what the Five Pillars of Islam are. There are as many diverse interpretations of Hinduism as there are for Christianity, and as many insightful Buddhist stories as there are in the Bible.

Christmas encounter with an unremembered student

19 December 2016 | Gillian Bouras

Kalamata post officeI have no idea how many students I've taught in two countries. I remember, usually, the high achievers and their troublesome and often troubled opposites, but most are a blur: the human memory has its limits. On the other hand I think I can name all the teachers I ever had: this, of course, is much easier to do. There was more evidence of this today. I was in the Kalamata post office, waiting my turn and clutching a fistful of cards bound for Australia, when a bearded young man asked me a question.

Mainstream mindset fails remote Aboriginal students

21 November 2016 | Dennis McIntosh

Aurukun schoolI wondered why my daughter was able to get an education with a brain injury and I couldn't get one with a normal brain? So I decided to copy what we had done with her. In short, I started reading again and started patterning sentences. Do I care about Direct Instruction, or Noel Pearson and the Cape York Academy? No. I care about seeing children find the joy in learning and embracing with courage and confidence the opportunities an education can provide.

Jostling for justice on school funding's contested ground

03 November 2016 | Michael Furtado

Kincoppal-Rose Bay in SydneyAmid the furore surrounding Minister Birmingham's disclosure of figures showing massive discrepancies in public funding between some independent schools and low-SES schools, some facts need scrutinising. Systemic Catholic schools draw for their enrolment from lower-SES postcodes than independent schools. Postcodes being an indelible predictor of the educational chances of Australians, balancing systemic school funding against that of independent schools is politically and ethically problematic.

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