Well, it has been a very busy Xmas period and it is not stopping yet. New job, new rules, new ideas, new people, and lots and lots of new things to get used to. Pity there is only 24 hours in a day though. Some random thoughts, it has been a little chaotic inside my head lately, so randomness is the word of the day.
The world around me has not stopped either, and that is a little disturbing..:) Things are not really travelling well, as any number of people are quite willing to tell me, and they do. What is it with these people? Floods in Queensland and bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Precisely the things that the environmental lobby has been crying about for years, and still so many people deny the possibility of climate change. We have 4 billion years of evidence of climate change, but it never happens? Oh please!
In the leadup to the “fiscal cliff” we have been hearing just how toxic politics has become in the US. We only have to look at Federal politics here to see the same. I did not realise just how bad this toxicity had become in my own State until I saw the comments from readers of the local Murdoch rag about the resignations and retirements of John Hill and Pat Conlon as Ministers.
How sad it is when men who have spent a lot of time developing their visions and working towards a common set of goals are dismissed in such a callous and ungenerous manner by an ungrateful group of obvious misanthropes. The whingers in the crowd are not helping and I do not see why they should be given any sort of airtime. I certainly have not agreed with everything these men have done, nor that of the Governments they have served, but I, at least, appreciate their service.
Recently, a poll of Australians found that John Howard was rated very highly of the last 5 Prime Ministers of Australia. I find it disturbing that, even with such a small sampling, John Howard was so highly rated as a PM. Obviously, time has painted a much rosier picture than the reality and it has not caught up to him yet.
Mr Howard was left a hugely successful reform agenda by the Hawke/Keating Governments, but left a poisoned chalice for for his successors, Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard. Never before had any PM been given so many opportunities and managed to do so little with them. The first challenge where he could have shown great leadership was in the Republic Question. Should Australia become a Republic? Mr. Howard personally opposed it, but, being afraid of a voter backlash, left public opposition to one of his more able hatchett men, Senator Nick Minchin. Mr. Howard did everything to ensure the defeat of any such proposal, but from behind the scenes while muttering such lines as “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Mr Howard also oversaw an incredible growth in middle-class and corporate welfare, encouraged a massive squandering of national wealth and did nothing much else. The GST? Big deal, I suggest a major cause of the future demise of the States. Selling off our gold reserves, for what? Mr Howard was existentialist in his leadership, with no real thought to the future. The only problem is, people seem to have bought all this as a “good thing”. In another 25 years, perhaps we will understand how poor a PM Mr Howard really was.
Unlike his two counterparts mentioned above, Mr Howard seemed not to do many things from a philosophical view, but rather as response to populist ideas, especially those promoted by the Murdoch media. The few philosophical approaches take by the Howard Government were in alignment with the US, even to the extent of George W. Bush naming Mr Howard “a man of steel” and “our deputy-sherrif in the South Pacific.” He smiled and no-one else blinked. How outrageous do politicians like to get and still think it to be OK? How condescending can a President be and get away with it? A perfect match, W and John, a pair of intellectual lightweights running with the events of the day, being perfect political opportunists. And we are made poorer as result.
The thing that is easy to miss here is that people kept voting Mr Howard back in, not because he was so good, but rather the Opposition was unable to promote a credible leader.
When Europeans came to Australia and began to learn about Aboriginal culture, they found that a young man does an “apprenticeship” with an older man. He learns everything he needs to know about how to move around the land, what is edible and what is not, what is dangerous and what is not, where the water is and so on. Obviously this is extremely primitive and expected from such a primitive society. What the early Europeans missed was that this was essentially the same technique of how apprentices learned their trades; yet Europeans were dismissive of the Aboriginal practices – just as we are today.
We seem to be eschewing ages old practices of personal contact, mentor-mentee if you like, in favour of newer technology based on “self education”. No wonder the Western education system is failing us. Observation and “positive feedback” is not personal contact and teachers need tools for precisely that, to build personal contact, not to circumvent it or avoid it which is what seems to be advocated by a lot of people here. With technology, one size does not fit all, but it can be used to democratize the classroom, which I hope is what teachers should be doing.
Of course, this assumes that all students are willing to be socialised and learn manners, a questionable assumption. Most are, but far too many think they have a right to be mean and nasty whenever they feel like it.