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Soccer as a Jesuit plot

10 July 2014 | Andrew Hamilton

1911 photo of Tottenham Hotspur versus Oldham AthleticOne of the more unlikely pieces of speculation to emerge from the World Cup concerned the origins of soccer in Brazil. A historian of the game claimed that it had been introduced by the Jesuits. According to the thinking of the Jesuits at St Louis School in Itu, near São Paulo, 'all the muscles [would] work harmoniously, and the moral lessons imbibed from sportsmanship [would] be assimilated by the students.'

Inside the women's lit gender ghetto

10 July 2014 | Ellena Savage

Retro image of woman writerWomen's lit needs a course of its own'. How original to segment women's work into a category of its own so that it has no bearing on the mainstream! Men's work is universal, and women's work is specific to women. Sixty-five years later, and Simone de Beauvoir still nails it. So should we feminise the mainstream? Or continue to participate at the margins, and hope that the old guard takes notice?

Harvard professor defies Australian class warfare

26 June 2014 | Catherine Marshall

David Sinclair chats to studentsAmidst a whirl of media interviews and meetings, David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard University and one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world for 2014, paid a visit to his alma mater: a state school in suburban Sydney. State schools aren't the repositories of children too impoverished or unintelligent for the alternative; they're the living manifestation of democracy, egalitarianism, multiculturalism and ecumenism.

Philosophy professor's cavalier interventions

19 June 2014 | Brian Matthews

Iris Murdoch and Brian Medlin 'Never Mind about the Bourgeoisie' coverOn his own admission, Australian poet, essayist, philosopher, naturalist and storyteller Brian Medlin left the publication of his life's work to his last few years, but his passions, gifts and lyricism were set free in an extraordinary correspondence he conducted with British novelist Iris Murdoch. Their letters cover more than two decades and, with both writers terminally ill, are marked by love, wit, subtlety, argument and insight.

School leavers' class wars

12 June 2014 | Ellena Savage

Stressed studentYear 12 tertiary entrance exams: turning 17-year-olds into nervous wrecks since the 1830s. They divide the smart from the dumb, the hopefuls from the no-hopers, and, what it boils down to more often than not, the privately educated from the state educated. But what if there was another way, a way that properly acknowledged the impact high schools have on their students' access to university admission?

Uni fee changes will erase egalitarianism

02 June 2014 | Paul Rodan

ANU College of LawAn unregulated fee regime will result in an increase in course costs and will mean substantially larger debts for students after their periods of study. The prestigious Group of Eight institutions can be expected to exploit their reputational positions to charge top dollar. How does a 17-year-old decide whether selecting the degree from the prestige university over the same course at a newer institution justifies an extra decade of debt?

Shorten should handle Gonski gift with care

1 Comment
27 May 2014 | Dean Ashenden

David Gonski stands beside Australian flagThe Government doesn't want it. Shorten does. He can go to the next election with uncontested ownership of one of the most widely supported proposals of recent times. The problem with Gonski's plan, however, is that he wasn't allowed or able to propose solutions anywhere near as big as the problems his review uncovered. This presents Shorten with a tricky dilemma.

Audit Commission's Gonski landmines

05 May 2014 | Dean Ashenden

Christopher Pyne points at a blackboard with the word 'Gonski' crossed outThe Commission of Audit has planted so many landmines across the political landscape that two have been scarcely noticed. One is planted directly under Gonski, the other under the federal role in schooling. Christopher Pyne's brazen effort to get rid of Gonski served only to show that he is not to be trusted. Abbott must be wondering whether this minister could carry the day with the kind of scheme recommended by the Commission.

Best of 2013: End of the education revolution

14 January 2014 | Dean Ashenden

Words 'I give a Gonski' appear over a raised handThe backsliding began before Gonski even got started: his riding instructions were to ensure that 'no school will be worse off'. Since then one backward step has followed another. What the prime minister wants now from the state premiers when they meet on 19 April is not Gonski but the appearance of Gonski. She may not get even that.

Pyne's Gonski shambles

01 December 2013 | Dean Ashenden

Christopher PyneFederal Education Minister Christopher Pyne is correct in saying that the Gonski scheme is a mess, but culpably wrong to use that fact to ditch the whole idea. The Gonski mess shows few of the actors concerned in a good light, and some, including Pyne himself, in a very poor one. Pyne's contribution to this debacle was to act as spoiler from the day the Gonski report was released. In that role he has so far adopted no less than four positions.

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