Archive for August, 2011

Apathy and politics: Omar Musa @MWF

In this week’s episode of Q&A (from the Melbourne Writer’s Festival) there was some interesting discussion about young people and apathy in politics.

I was especially glad to head from Omar Musa, an award winning Australian slam poet who my students recently brought to my attention.  An extract from the episode transcript follows; the full episode can currently be viewed on the ABC website (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3299482.htm):

OMAR MUSA: I can’t speak for previous generations but when I talk for my generation, I see a lot of selfishness. I see a lot of materialism. I see a lot of superficiality and I think that’s something that we should all be – as artists we should all speak up against. I mean I think people have enjoyed such a good standard of living for so long in Australia, that – all right there’s – from the way I see it, there’s two different types of apathetic people in Australia. There are those who are apathetic because they feel that the government is not properly representing them and that they have no alternative choice and then there are those who are apathetic because they feel so entitled to this prosperity that we have that they can’t feel any sense of compassion to those who are vulnerable and, you know, I think that’s something we need to interrogate as a society, you know. I just see that there are problems in this society. I mean I’m proud to be Australian but, you know, as someone who is patriotic, I feel that it’s my responsibility to criticise and to ask these sort of questions about our past. Why is a dog whistle – always, you know, it invariably works in Australian politics. I mean a pugilistic wing nut like, you know, Tony Abbott almost won the last election by using the dog whistle when most people don’t even like the guy, you know. And so why is it that that sort of stuff works.

TONY JONES: In that same poem, My Generation, you talk about witnessing Prime Ministers slain, hush coups in the halls of parliament house. I mean does that sort of taint your view of politics, when you see something like that happen?

OMAR MUSA: Yeah, definitely. I mean it’s got to a point where it feels like it’s a choice between the devil and deep blue sea, you know. You’ve got this pugilistic knob head on one side and then you’ve got this sort of gutless wonder on the other and so I understand that – the young lady that asked the first question, I understand that feeling of apathy but I guess it’s times like this when it’s more necessary than ever to speak up and to question these sort of things.

These sentiments were followed by some very stirring words by Afghani activist and writer of A Woman Among Warlords Malalai Joya including the insistance that

The silence of the good people is worse than the action of the bad people.

I wonder what role I will play in the grand scheme of de-apathising the ‘youth of today’, including my own generation?  Surely the answer must lie in art, like Omar’s poetry, and in active protest, like Malalai’s…not just in retweeting exclamations of outrage and sharing witty remarks about news articles on Facebook?  Not that I’d be without those things mind you ;)

At the end of the day, will hip hop save our lives?

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EXCURSION!

I’m planning my first University excursion :D

With my small class of six students studying their Grad. Dip. in Education (secondary English), I will be heading into Brisbane city to attend events that are part of the Global Poetics Tour:


Slam poets Jive, Ken and Mahogany will be slamming into Brisbane for the Australian Poetry Slam competition, which has its second Brisbane Heat on Friday 9th September.  I think that’s the event we’ll be going to…although the Sunday event also looks pretty appealing: Black Star Tribute ‘Words or Whatever’ at the Black Star Cafe in West End.

I wonder what event my students will choose for the excursion – we make the selection in tomorrow’s tutorial!

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Use #etaq21c to ask me things tomorrow!

More specifically, use #etaq21c to ask me questions about Digital Literacy and electronic text practices in English curriculum.  The conference theme says it all: “English and Generation Next”

ETAQ’s Annual State Conference  will be held atLourdes Hill College on Saturday 20 August. The theme is “English and Generation Next”.

The program will feature a keynote address by Professor Peter Holbrook from the University of Queensland’s School of English, Media Studies and Art History, a Q & A style panel session [that's where I'm presenting!!], and a range of supporting workshops. Professor Holbrook’s address is entitled “Literature, Literacy, the Imagination, Freedom”.

So, if you are an English teacher, or if you are interested in digital texts and the future of the book, please, shoot some questions our way! You can post them here as a comment, but if you use Twitter then posting a comment or question there with the hashtag #etaq21c would Really Make My Day :)

I am soooo looking forward to this panel presentation!  The full list of people in the panel session are:

  • Professor Catherine Beavis (Griffith University and ETAQ Patron)
  • Professor Peter Holbrook (University of Queensland)
  • Kelli McGraw (Lecturer, QUT)
  • Janina Drazek (Executive Director, Teaching and Learning, Education Queensland)

I’ll be talking about ‘acts of reading and writing’ and ‘digital pedagogy’.

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JOLT: Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions

Of interest to teachers struggling to keep up with online discussions with their students!

Goldman, Zvi (2011) ‘Balancing Quality and Workload in Asynchronous Online Discussions: A Win-Win Approach for Students and Instructors’. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. 7:2 pp.313-323

ABSTRACT: The challenge addressed in this article is how to achieve a win-win balance between quality and workload for students and instructors participating in asynchronous online discussions. A Discussion Guideline document including minimum requirements and best practices was developed to address this need. The approach covers three phases: design and development, setting up expectations, and launch and management. The goals of the approach, based on a commitment shared by all full time and adjunct faculty, are high quality of education as well as retention of both students and qualified instructors.

Further explanation of the research challenge from the introduction: “When discussions are regarded as critical components of learning, and administered as such, they impose a significant workload on both students and instructors. In applicable programs targeting practitioner adults, discussion sessions, during which much of the evidence-based learning and experience sharing occur, can easily consume half the course workload (Goldman, 2010). The reality is that neither students nor instructors can afford to dedicate an unlimited amount of time to fulfill course requirements or teach a course. Therefore, as a matter of practicality, discussion sessions should be carefully implemented to balance pedagogic quality and workload for students and instructors alike.”

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Gamification and Behaviourism

I dig gamification. I also dig Games Based Learning (GBL).

But sometimes when I’m watching these concepts get promoted, big alarms go off in my head.

Take a look at this list of some key elements of gamification:

  • Points
  • Badges
  • Levels
  • Challenges
  • Leaderboards
  • Rewards
  • Onboarding

Doesn’t this remind you of anything?  Add that together with our enthusiastic embrace of digital and electronic teaching, and the ‘games & machines’ motif becomes really familiar.  I’m thinking Skinner, and Behaviourism, and Pavlov’s dog…which means that we need to think about the ethics of gamification, stat.

 

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Why it doesn’t matter that NSW keeps losing the State of Origin…

…GO YOU GOOD THINGS!

NSW deals national curriculum a blow

Adam Bennett (Sydney Morning Herald) August 9, 2011

[NSW Education Minister] Mr Piccoli on Tuesday announced the state government would postpone the implementation of the national curriculum by 12 months because of a lack of commonwealth funding and uncertainty about the content.

NSW will now introduce the Australian curriculum in English, Maths, Science and History in 2014, with the planning phase beginning in 2013.

Mr Piccoli said that while the NSW government remained committed to the reforms, schools couldn’t prepare for its introduction in 2013 with funding issues still unresolved and the curriculum’s content not known.

“Schools needed to know in June of this year precisely the content of the national curriculum and to know that there were funds available for professional development,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“The final document won’t be signed off until at least the ministerial council meeting in October, and that simply does not give the schools in NSW and the more than 100,000 teachers the opportunity to receive the professional development, and to be in a position to implement the national curriculum in 2013.”

Thank you New South Wales for Standing Up and Putting Your Foot Down, while the rest of the educrats and Ministers around this country smile and nod and agree to bring in a curriculum overnight when they Quite Frankly Should Know Better.

That’s MY State of Origin!

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Premier’s Reading Challenge QLD

I used to be on the book selection panel for the PRC in New South Wales…great to see it so well participated in in Queensland as well.

I wonder if I can get some posters for it sent to me to put up at Uni?  It’s a shame – so many great programs like this get passed over by teachers each year who just don’t get reminded of the dates!

The Premier’s Reading Challenge is on again and the aim for 2011 is to top 75,000 student participants.

Children from Prep to Year 7 are encouraged to pick up a book and get reading between May 9 and August 27, with all who complete the challenge receiving a signed certificate by the Premier.

Schools can register online until May 27. Last year, 71,000 students completed the challenge, reading more than one million books.

The challenge for students from Prep to Year 2 is to read or experience 20 books, Years 3 and 4 to read 20 books and Years 5 to 7 to read 15 books between May 9 and August 26.

Guidelines, registration details and booklists are available on the Premier’s Reading Challenge website.

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